Whether you’re seeking breathtaking vistas, ancient forests, magical ruins or meandering rivers, there’s something for every walker in the Forest of Dean
One of England’s few remaining ancient forests, the Forest of Dean is a treasure trove of stunning walks that rank among the best in the UK.
Nestled in the hills of Gloucestershire, the region holds a variety of trails to embark on, from peaceful riverside strolls to exhilarating hilltop hikes. So why not embrace the spirit of wanderlust, put on your walking boots, and explore all the stunning natural beauty this woodland realm has to offer.
Plus, don’t forget that Boundless members visiting this beautiful region can save up to 20% off all stays at Whitemead Forest Park which is situated within walking distance of several of our recommended walks. And for more ideas of things to do in the Forest of Dean, check out our full activities guide. Read on for our picks…
For breathtaking views and spectacular birdwatching, it doesn’t get much better than Symonds Yat, nestled in the heart of the Wye Valley. The captivating routes in this area typically begin at the summit of Symonds Yat Rock where you’ll find panoramic views of the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains above the tranquil River Wye. There are clearly signposted routes all around this picturesque place offering both flat routes suitable for all abilities and more involved hikes along the river and (crucially) to some excellent pubs in the area too. When you’re finished with your excursion, why not indulge in a delightful stop at the cosy cafe atop the rock, where you can savour a refreshing warm drink and a delicious snack with a truly impressive backdrop.
Another fantastic sojourn that takes in the serene River Wye, the Tintern Abbey and Devil’s Pulpit circular walk is one of the best in the Forest of Dean. Beginning at the village of Tintern, this adventure will take you across the Wireworks Bridge before you hike around 300 metres uphill delivering you out on top of a limestone cliff with genuinely breathtaking views of the valley and abbey below. Local legend has it that the devil once sat at this spot preaching to the monks of the abbey in order to tempt them away from their faith. Once you’ve taken in enough of this stunning spot, it’s a gentle stroll back down the hill to the village where several pubs and tearooms await to reward your efforts.
An enchanting part of the forest that has inspired the likes of J R R Tolkien and been the filming location for both Star Wars and Doctor Who, Puzzlewood is a must-see in the Forest of Dean. The meandering trail through the gnarled woodland and moss-covered rocks is truly magical and thanks to its well-trodden paths, reasonably accessible, too. Beautiful at almost any time of year, perhaps the best time to visit is in spring, when the woodland is covered with wild garlic and bluebells making for a truly memorable experience.
For those seeking a little culture alongside their breath of fresh air, look no further than the dazzling Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Composed of a selection of in-situ artworks by world-class sculptors, this 7km trail enhances the natural beauty of the woodland with artwork designed for the space it inhabits. Some must-see works on the walk include the Cathedral, a 4.5 metre high suspended stained glass window depicting a view of the forest and the Iron Road made from carved railway sleepers depicting wildlife scenes along a pathway. If you’re interested in seeing more art trails around the UK, read our full list of recommendations here.
For a waterside walk, consider the Beechenhurst Trail, which encompasses Cyril Hart Arboretum, Cannop Ponds and the Hopewell Colliery Museum. Sometime also called the ‘Ramblers Route’ this 13 km circular walk includes plenty of challenge inclines, and descents and provides a great introduction to the terrain you’ll find across the Forest of Dean.
If history’s more your thing, the Offa's Dyke Path offers a long-distance national trail that runs along the border between England and Wales. In the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, the path follows the River Wye from the River Severn in the south to Monmouth in Wales. It then travels northwest towards Abergavenny and the Brecon Beacons. There are many short sections of the Offa's Dyke Path that can be completed in a few hours or a day. These sections include some of the most beautiful parts of the Wye Valley, such as the previously mentioned Devil's Pulpit (overlooking Tintern Abbey), Wintour's Leap, Brockweir, Redbrook, and Tidenham Chase.
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