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Arial views of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley

Experience breath-taking viewpoints, untamed nature and ancient forests on one of these fabulous Forest of Dean walks.

Nestled between the Wye Valley and the River Severn, The Royal Forest of Dean is one of England’s only ancient forests. Formerly a royal hunting forest, home to an abundance of natural resources, the forest is now an enchanting place, loved by many.

Today the forest is home to an array of wildlife and many fascinating trails waiting to be explored. Keep reading to discover our favourite Forest of Dean walks …

1) The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

The Cathedral, stained glass window suspended in the iar along the Sculpture Trail.

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is a collection of sculptures, inspired by the unique qualities and landscape of the Forest of Dean. Left to be reclaimed by the forest, the collection of world-class artworks can be admired along this charming 7km trail.

Highlights include the Iron Road, with forest-inspired images carved into twenty sleepers and the Cathedral; a 15ft high stained glass window suspended in the air.

Start: Beechenhurst Lodge Picnic Site, Beechenhurst, Speech House Road, Coleford, Gloucestershire (GL16 7EG)

Distance: 7km (2 hours)

Route Details: The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

2) Forest of dean Waterfall Walk to Cleddon Falls

Cleddon Falls cascading through the valley

A popular Forest of Dean and Wye Valley attraction, Cleddon Falls are a spectacular site and popular walking destination. As part of the Wye Valley Way, the Cleddon Falls Walk starts at Bigsweir Bridge and takes you through the charming Wye Valley to Cleddon Falls, above Llandogo. Enjoy sights of crystal-clear waters and atmospheric woodlands on this delightful Forest of Dean Walk.

Start: Bigsweir Bridge (NP25 4TS)

Distance: 13km (4 hours) or 8km (2 hours) for the shortened version.

3) Puzzlewood

A bridge in the enchanting forest at Puzzlewood

An area of Ancient Forest, set in the heart of the Forest of Dean, Puzzlewood has been used as the setting for many TV and Film productions including Doctor Who and Star Wars. J R R Tolkein worked in the area, so perhaps these enchanting woodlands were the inspiration behind the magical world of Middle Earth.

In the early 1800s, a local landowner laid down a mile of meandering pathways through the trees. Originally designed for the entertainment of his own family, Puzzlewood opened up to the public in the 1900s and is now a popular Forest of Dean walking trail.

Let your imagination run wild as you explore secret caves, ancient trees and interesting rock formations at Puzzlewood, before enjoying a refreshing drink or snack at Puzzlewood Cafe.

Start: Puzzlewood, Perrygrove Road, Coleford GL16 8QB

Route Details and Tickets: Puzzlewood Walk

4) Symonds Yat Rock

Views of a lake and house at Symonds Yat

There are miles and miles of woodland paths and interesting tracks waiting to be discovered at Symonds Yat. With six popular Forest of Dean walking routes available, Symonds Yat has something to offer the whole family.

From an easy circular woodland trail to a more challenging 17km circular forest walk, you’ll be treated to panoramic views, ancient hill forts and attractive woodlands. Keep your eyes peeled for fallow deer, wild boar and goshawks. Symonds Yat Rock is well known as one of the best places in the UK to observe Peregrine Falcons.

There is a complete River Wye walk that explores over 136-miles of the Wye valley for those feeling adventurous.

Start: Symonds Yat Rock Car Park, near Coleford, Gloucestershire, GL16 7NZ.

Distance: Various Routes

Route Details: Symonds Yat Rock Trail Map

5) The Beechenhurst Trail

A delightful forest of dean walk

Also known as the “Ramblers Route”, the Beechenhurst Trail explores the ancient woodland in the east of the Forest of Dean. This is a challenging 13km circular hike, with plenty of ascents and descents on uneven paths.

Whilst taking on the Beechenhurst Trail you’ll come across Speech House, Cannop Ponds, the Hopewell Colliery Museum and Cyril Hart Arboretum. A fantastic introduction to the wonders of the Forest of Dean.

Start: Beechenhurst Lodge Car Park, Beechenhurst, Speech House Road, Coleford, GL16 7EL

Distance: 13km (3.5 hours)

Route Details: The Beechenhurt Trail

6) Tintern Abbey and Devil’s Pulpit Circular Walk

the ruins of Tintern Abbey with blue skies

Offering stunning views of Tintern Abbey and the River Wye, Devil’s Pulpit is a viewpoint and limestone rock formation along the Offa’s Dyke Footpath, often considered as one of the best walks in the Forest of Dean. Local legend states that the devil sat here, preaching to the monks below, tempting them to desert their order.

Walking from the village of Tintern, you’ll cross the old Wireworks Bridge before ascending 300 meters over rocks and steep inclines. However, upon reaching Devil’s Pulpit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views before a gentle stroll back down to the village.

Start: Tintern Car Park, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow NP16 6SF

Distance: 8.5km (2 hours)

Route Details: Tintern Abbey and Devil’s Pulpit Circular Walk

7) Cannop Ponds Walk

Pond surrounded by forest during the Cannop Ponds Walk

A delightful walk in the Forest of Dean, taking you through enchanting woodlands to Cannop Ponds and the Cannop Stoneworks.

The ponds were created in 1825 to power a huge waterwheel at Parkend Ironworks and are now the ideal picnic spot for you and your loved ones. This idyllic area is home to an array of wildlife, including Mandarin ducks, reed warblers, mute swans and beautiful dragonflies.

Start: Cannop Ponds Forestry Commission Car Park, West Dean, Lydney, GL15 4JS

Distance: 3.2km (45 minutes)

Route Details: Cannop Ponds Walk

If you’re looking for a place to stay whilst exploring this incredible area, be sure to check out these gorgeous Forest of Dean holiday cottages or our wide range of Wye Valley accommodation

For a Christmassy escape, read our blog: “15 Must-Visit Christmas Markets in Gloucestershire“. 

Here at Manor Cottages, we have hundreds of cottages across the Cotswolds, Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, providing the perfect base to take on one of these delightful Forest of Dean Walks.

Image Credits: Pip Rolls, John Winder and Eric Soons (CC BY-SA 2.0), Richard (CC BY-ND 2.0), Saffron Blaze (CC BY-SA 3.0)