A hidden gem spanning England and Wales and the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, Wye Valley and Forest of Dean is beautiful any time of year but, in autumn, its rich landscape comes alive with spectacular colour.
One of the last ancient forests in the UK and an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Forest of Dean, which is also the largest oak woodland, was the one-time hunting ground of Norman kings. With 20 million trees still sandwiched between the River Severn and the River Wye, the region also boasts a delightful dappling of picture-perfect villages, such as Newent and Cinderford, cosy pubs, countryside boltholes, stunning walks and historic landmarks making it an ideal place to get a taste of the best of Britain in the autumn.
Admire the picturesque views of the River Wye and surrounding area from this internationally famous viewpoint. Discover the ancient hill fort, spot birds of prey and enjoy spectacular views across the River Wye and the forest beyond. Also visit the pretty village of Symonds Yat village in the Wye Valley which straddles the River Wye and on the borders of the English counties of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire within a few miles of Monmouthshire and the Welsh border.
The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. It was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales, and its beauty was immortalised by William Wordsworth in his famous poem ‘Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey’. Its stunning location on the banks of the River Wye and surrounding wooded slopes are particularly lovely in autumn.
You can explore a mile of meandering pathways, with its fantastic tree and rock formations, through this 14-acre ancient woodland, which is like stepping back into ancient Britain. It has an atmosphere quite unlike any other wood you have visited. JRR Tolkien is reputed to have taken his inspiration for the fabled forests of Middle Earth from Puzzlewood, and it’s a very popular film location featuring in Star Wars and Doctor Who among others.
The Dean Forest Railway is a 4¹⁄₄-mile long heritage railway that runs between Lydney and Parkend in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. The route was part of the former Severn and Wye Railway which ran from Lydney to Cinderford and is now a delightful tourist attraction and is a great way to see the region in all its splendour.
It’s not all ancient forest, the National Trust owns Westbury Court Gardens near Gloucester. With formal gardens and canals the Westbury Court Garden is a Dutch water garden in Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, England, nine miles southwest of Gloucester which puts on a super show of autumnal colour.
Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Royal Forest of Dean
Kick-back and relax after a long day exploring the magical Forest of Dean and Wye Valley at this boutique retreat, which has just named Taste of the West Best South West Hotel 2016.
Speech House Hotel, Coleford, Gloucestershire
A historic hotel at the very heart of the Forest of Dean, the Speech House Hotel is a former 17th-century hunting lodge set overlooking the romantic wilderness. The hotel boasts 35 bedrooms which offer modern facilities while retaining their original charm.
For more information on the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, including great places to stay, see visit www.wyedeantourism.co.uk