1. See the nesting peregrine falcons
Perhaps the most spectacular site in the Forest of Dean is Symonds Yat Rock where the River Wye winds its way around a 500-foot-high limestone outcrop through a deeply wooded gorge. From the top, the views across the Forest, down the gorge and over to the Welsh hills are breath-taking. Look over to the nearby cliffs to spot the nesting area of the peregrine falcons where they hunt and raise their young.
2. Raise a glass at one of England’s largest vineyards
The Three Choirs Vineyard is one of the greatest champions in the resurgence in popularity of English wines. Established in 1973, it is now the second largest commercial vineyard in the UK and produces some of the finest examples of contemporary English wines winning many prizes. The vineyard has developed many commercial aspects, as well as the usual tours, tastings and shop, including an award-winning restaurant and micro-brewery.
3. Cycle around the Forest of Dean
There is a wide-ranging network of well-constructed cycle paths around the Forest of Dean which are particularly good for families. These routes make use of old railway lines which served the coal mines deep in the forest and therefore offer long stretches of flat, gentle gradients.
4. See the secret part of the Forest
Clearwell Caves are an important but secret part of the Forest’s history and environment and are now a working mining museum where visitors can see the impressive caverns. Iron ore from the caves has been used over many centuries to make tools, weapons and machinery. Today, highly valued iron ore pigments are still mined.
5. Watch the locals fight for bread and cheese thrown from the castle
Each year on Whit Sunday (the date varies but usually between late May and mid-June the small village of St Briavels, in the Wye Valley, plays host to the Bread and Cheese Dole. Anticipate a scrum as villagers jostle for their share of this curious bounty. This age-old tradition sees crowds of medieval-costumed locals converge outside the castle in anticipation of catching dole – pieces of bread and cheese thrown into the air from brimming baskets.
6. Watch the Severn tidal wave
The Severn Bore is a naturally occurring tidal wave which sweeps upstream as far as Gloucester when tides are high. It occurs throughout the year with an average speed of 10 miles per hour and has been known to reach two metres in height, although the size of the bore can be affected by seasonal tide levels and weather conditions.
7. Go deer spotting in the park
The setting of Dyrham Park is nothing short of stupendous – dropping down into this secluded valley the imposing stately home of honey-coloured stone reveals itself in dramatic fashion. As well as an ancient deer park there is a spectacular range of trees including horse chestnuts, beech and cedar which tower above the house along with ancient mulberries, pine and oak.
8. Walk the Cotswold Way
The western edge of the Cotswolds is marked by a steep escarpment down to the Severn Valley, along which runs the Cotswold Way, one of the finest long-distance paths in southern England. There are many circular walks using the trail taking in beech woods, pastureland and passing through picturesque villages built in local limestone, for which the area is so famous.
9. Enter a world of mechanical music
See and hear a host of self-playing instruments presented as live entertainment in a Victorian setting. Keith Harding’s World of Mechanical Music in Northleach is a unique collection of musical automata that has been highly praised for its friendly atmosphere and enthusiastic guides.
10. Get close-up and personal with birds of prey
Tucked away near Newent is a real gem of an attraction – the International Centre for Birds of Prey, where you can get about as close-up and personal with birds of prey as you are ever likely to. Here, there are over 200 birds of prey including eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, kites, buzzards and falcons and three entertaining and different flying demonstrations every day.
If this inspires you, why not browse our selection of holiday parks and caravan parks in Gloucestershire, and see what catches your eye?
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