Exploring The Forest of Dean at Puzzlewood and The Sculpture Trail
The Forest of Dean is magical and there are some great unique and enchanting places to visit and spend time. There is so much natural beauty in the area, exciting activities, attractions which are totally different, leftfield, outside of the box, imaginative ways of making the most of nature, making it exciting.
Puzzlewood is natural beauty at it’s most enchanting and the Sculpture Trail is such a creative and imaginative idea. We loved visiting these two attractions in the Forest of Dean during our stay nearby in Abergavenny.
If there is a more enchanting mystical location in the UK I have yet to see it. It is no surprise that so many big films and TV series have used Puzzlewood as a filming location, Star Wars, Jack the Giant Slayer, Merlin, Da Vinci’s Demons, Dr Who, it really is special and lends itself so easily to storytelling.
It amazed me how the wood was formed. Puzzlewood was an underground natural cave system which worked its way to the surface and was then mined by the Romans. It has created this magical woodland of twisted trees and moss covered rocks lining a ravine of beauty. Pathways and bridges made from branches to explore add to the mystical atmosphere, the people behind this must have been magicians or fairies! JRR Tolkien visited here and it is said that this wood provided the inspiration for his forests of middle earth…it is easy to think of elves, orcs and dwarves doing battle here!
Puzzlewood is as magical if not more so for children, there were children loving every moment exploring the alleyways and pathways, eyes wide open, smiles on their faces, you could see how much of an adventure this was for all of them. This is a day out for all of the family to enjoy without a doubt.
There is also a lovely farm animal section, we fell in love with one little shetland pony here! An education centre, and a nice café too. You can also stay here with two beautiful cottages and accommodation in the original farm house as well. This also gives you access to the wood outside of opening hours as an extra perk, I imagine this would be a pretty special experience! Accommodation can be booked through the Puzzlewood website here.
The Sculpture Trail
This has to be one of the most imaginative and creative ideas I have ever known. The forest in this area is beautiful and the walks around here are just amazing and give you the feeling of being cut off from the modern world in the depths of the forest. Then there are the ingenious works of art installed to look out for and explore. Coming across one of these pieces stops you in your tracks.
I totally lost myself here and loved every minute of it! It was raining, it was misty, the forest took on this mysterious personality punctuated by moments of clarity whenever I came across one of the sculptures. These are thought provoking pieces which really tie in well with the location. My experience was really enhanced having read the descriptions on the website and I would really recommend doing the same.
There are maps available at the visitor centre and the full walk takes 2-3 hours, there are shortcuts which can be taken as well. There is a really great café/restaurant here The Beechenhurst Café a brilliant place to refresh after exploring the forest.
Puzzlewood and The Sculpture Trail are awesome places to visit in the Forest of Dean, we really enjoyed both locations, both totally unique in their own ways, both making the most of the beautiful natural scenery.
For more amazing places to visit in the area visit the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism website which really is full of information on things to do in the local area and places to stay.
Thanks again for reading! We are looking forward to the next leg in our trips around the UK and Ireland when we head off into the Lake District in the new year.
We have just returned from a last minute short break to Switzerland, staying in Geneva going on an epic road trip taking in Grindelwald and Zermatt, really exciting, some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe! Look out for my post on this soon!