So, you’re looking to embark on a break at the Forest of Dean, right? Good choice – as one of the last surviving ancient woodlands in the country, it has acres of striking, storied land to come upon at your leisure. The wildlife is breathtaking, and the floral aspects of the Forest are teeming with colour and charm. If you ask us, that’s a brilliant outdoor trip in the bag.
Except… what if it rains? This being the UK, it’s probably going to happen, drawing you away from the trees, mud and snaking River Wye for a time. To keep you and the kids occupied in a downpour, we’ve racked our brains to come up with five activities that suit a roof over your head.
For a true symbol of British history, head to Berkeley Castle just off the A38. The building has been loved and maintained by nine centuries of the Berkeley family – they now open the grounds to visitors, having kept a wealth of materials, trinkets and furniture from the Saxon heritage.
Take a stroll under these grandiose ceilings, and witness Elizabeth I’s bedspread, Francis Drake’s favourite cabinet, and innumerable tapestries and wall mountings with their own backstory. It’s like walking through a museum with a heartbeat, one that’s preserved so much of what makes our nation special. Just bear in mind that it’ll be closed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for private functions.
Mining used to be woven deep into the fabric of the UK. So many northern towns have roots in the search for coal, iron and copper, and the Clearwell Caves are a fantastic monument to this industry. Actually, they go a couple of steps further back, having been plundered for their metal ore since the pre-Roman era.
Today, you can venture up to 200ft underground for a first-hand glimpse of these famous catacombs. There’s so much to explore, we’re sure it’ll take a big bite out of your day. They regularly run caving activities, film screenings and theatre events, so be sure to check their calendar!
Near the centre of Gloucester sits a looping, buzzing masterpiece of family fun – the JDR Go-Karting Track. It’s approved by the National Karting Association, meaning your need for speed is more than satisfied by the 300m indoor circuit. Several packages await parents and kids, and they welcome anyone over 12 years of age.
There are timed competitions, steering each of you towards a red-blooded lap time. Set up a mini tournament and see where you place! Younger family members can sit and watch your antics in the café and viewing gallery.
We’re guessing that a dose of natural splendour is high on your to-do list. Everyone will be awed at the sight of a falcon bulleting over them, or a vulture turning its leathery head in their direction.
When the rain is being merciless, and the sky is too murky for bird watching, take time out at the International Centre for Birds of Prey. Over 250 hawks, owls, kites and buzzards call this place home. There are three flying demonstrations every day, sounding a sharp tweet of defiance to the drizzle.
Are there any Doctor Who nutcases in the car? Awesome – they’re going to fall at your feet when you take them here, the Time Machine Museum of Science Fiction. Basically a shrine to one of the most popular BBC shows ever made, it’s bursting with well-known props like the Weeping Angel statue, the L1 Tracking Robot and (holiest of holies) a fully-fledged Tardis.
More goodies abound from Star Wars, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds and Red Dwarf: seriously, any sci-fi nerd, young or old, has to make a detour here, whatever the weather!
Camping in the Forest of Dean really is a treat, and then some. Even if the trails themselves become waterlogged, you can always hop over to any of these activities for a couple of hours, waiting until the sun is back in force…
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