Wye Valley Forest of Dean Walking Guide
The Forest of Dean is one a few remaining ancient forests in England. To the west it is bounded by the lower section of the River Wye. Together these areas provide some excellent walking.
Forest of Dean - The Royal Forest of Dean is one of England's few remaining ancient forests, covering 27000 acres, nestling between the Wye Valley and River Severn. Formerly a royal hunting forest, for centuries it was valued for its resources of iron, stone, coal and timber. Today it is a magical place of natural beauty and peace where birds such as goshawks and peregrine falcons feel at home amongst a wide selection of other wildlife.
Wye Valley - The Wye valley is designated Area of outstanding natural beauty (ANOB) boasting a spectacular gorge thorough which the Wye flows along the border of England and Wales. The Lower Wye Valley is defined as the stretch of river from Monmouth to Chepstow. There are numerous walks and places to visit on this 14 mile stretch of river. These include fantastically named viewpoints such as "Eagles Nest", "the Devils Pulpit" and "Wintours Leap" which are some of the highest inland cliffs in Britain. Tintern Abbey is also located on this stretch, and there are numerous great walks from here, many of which link to Brockweir with its Moravian Church and several hotels and Pubs. Monmouth and Chepstow also offer interesting towns to visit giving you an option of several days of half day walks and half day sightseeing
Walking - There are several long distance footpaths in the area including The Gloucestershire way, Wysis Way, Offas Dyke National Trail and Wye Valley walk which can be linked up to create several picturesque and impressive circular walks. In addition they can be linked up with numerous forest tracks and ancient roadways.
There are many beauty spots where short trails of a half to three miles make ideal excursions. However there are also many possibilities of more strenuous walks such as the three paths walk which utilises the Wysis Way, Offas Dyke National Trail and Wye Valley Walk to complete a circuit. This includes superbly tranquil forest paths, the high point of Near Harkening Rock and Suck Rock (claimed to be the biggest loose boulder in the UK), the Kymin and its superb view over the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains before descending the Offas Dyke National Trail to Monmouth and then back along the Wye to complete the circuit
Walking is an all year round activity in the Forest of Dean and Wye valley. The Spring sees the forest carpeted with Bluebells and Wild Garlic. In Summer the sunlight adds shadows to the forest and sparkle to the River Wye. By Autumn the scenery has mellowed and it is time for the spectacular leaf colours as winter approaches. In winter the frost crunches under foot and the views are more open with mist laying low in the valleys makes walking a great experience.
Wildlife viewing - The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley have abundant wildlife. Birds include Flycatchers and Woodpeckers. Buzzards can often be seen soaring above the woodland. Fallow deer and sheep wander freely. More recently Wild Boar have been seen in the area. Of the 50 possible species of butterfly it is possible to see in the British Isles, 30 are found the Forest of Dean and Lower Wye Valley Area. Symonds Yat Rock is famous for its Peregrine Falcons which nest in the Coldwell Cliffs. During the summer months the RSPB sets up a viewing station with telescopes and experts on hand to show you the nests and talk about the birds.
The New Fancy Viewpoint is six miles from Yat Rock and on the old site of the New Fancy Mine. The area has been landscaped and a view point created at the top of what was once a slag heap. The viewpoint is now recognised as one of the best places in the UK for viewing goshawks who perch on the top of the trees. If you enjoy the Fantastic scenery and wildlife then the Wye valley and Forest of Dean is worth a visit to explore by foot or car.