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Top Things to do in the Forest of Dean

Forest of dean lodges Forest of dean lodges

Enjoy the best the local area has to offer with a selection of unmissable things to see and do.

DAY 1 - Get acquainted with the park

Start your holiday with a hearty home-cooked breakfast: simply order a hamper when you book, and we’ll stock your fridge full of eggs, bacon, milk and much more. Don’t fancy cooking? No problem: just head over to our Foresters restaurant (1) instead. Today is all about exploring the fun-filled activities at Whitemead Park. For tots aged two and over, there’s a huge range of entertainment – such as teddy bear-making, team sports and circus skills. Kids can learn the basics of snorkelling with ‘sea scooters’ in the swimming pool or zoom around the shallows on mini jet skis. For older children, zorbing is always a hit: ensconced in huge inflatable balls, they can roll through the meadows or splash through the pool – a brilliantly bouncy experience, always accompanied by uncontrollable giggles. Refuel with a picnic lunch or afternoon tea from Foresters, then discover a nature trail together through the acres of forest and fields. There’s instructor-led archery and fencing to try too – or you can just relax with a blissful spa treatment. For dinner, walk to the Woodman Inn (2) for steaks, sharing platters and a tasty kids’ menu.

child in a swimming pool

Snorkelling at Whitemead

DAY 2 - Tick off these National Trust properties

"This ancient, atmospheric forest has appeared in Star Wars, Merlin and Doctor Who"

Puzzlewood forest


If the sun is shining, set your sights on Puzzlewood (3). This ancient, atmospheric forest has appeared in Star Wars, Merlin and Doctor Who – and is even said to have inspired JK Rowling while she was writing Harry Potter. As well as walking trails through the woodland, there’s an outdoor play area and mazes to get lost in – and you’ll receive a £2 discount when you show proof of your Whitemead booking. For fun in the treetops, head to Go Ape: Beechenhurst Lodge (4) welcomes Tarzans of all ages, while the white-knuckle high ropes course at Mallards Pike (5) is for explorers aged over ten. Both venues have a café – serving lunch, coffee and cake – and Whitemead guests get 10% off Go Ape entry. Rainy day? Venture into Clearwell Caves (6), a spectacular complex of underground caverns – where you’ll also get 10% off. You can learn all about the local heritage of iron ore mining, explore colourful nooks and underground lakes, and even delve into the deeper tunnels on caving adventures. For indoor crafty capers, Hot Pot Pottery (7) offers ceramics-painting sessions, and a 10% discount for Whitemead guests. This evening, head to The Fountain Inn (8) – a five-minute walk from the park – for steaks, pies and gourmet pub grub.

DAY 3 - Take a step back in time

Drive to Lydney Brew (9) for breakfast: from sausages to smoked salmon, this artisan coffee shop serves the best local produce. Nearby, the Dean Forest Railway (10) runs through more than four miles of glorious countryside, with steam engines and heritage trains aplenty – and Whitemead guests save £1 (or 50p off children’s tickets). You can hop off at five stations along the route: to walk along the Severn estuary, explore Lydney Harbour, and dine in idyllic rural pubs. Afterwards, give Lydney’s Krazy Golf (11) your best swing. Each of its 15 holes is inspired by a Forest of Dean attraction: there are mazes, train tracks, and even caves to contend with. Or, learn all about local history at the Dean Heritage Centre (12), whose interactive exhibits include a Victorian cottage, waterwheel and prehistoric galleries. Little ones will love the Gruffalo Trail, and Whitemead guests get 10% off entry. Tonight, check out Whitemead’s live entertainment: The Venue hosts everything from game shows to stand-up comedy, while Foresters’ terrace is a fine spot for a sunset tipple or two.

Eating outdoors at Whitemead Forest Park

Foresters’ Terrace

If you stay longer...

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey, Wye Valley

As well as having the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo (13) to explore – with £1 off tickets for Whitemead guests – Symonds Yat is the jumping-off point for kayaking trips and boat cruises along the Wye. Prefer to stay on dry land? At Whitecliff Off Road Centre (14), you can take 4x4 cars for a thrilling off-road spin – plunging through gullies, splashing through waterways, and bouncing over hilltops. And at DBC Leisure (15), you can try archery, air rifles and clay pigeon shooting with expert guides. Both venues offer 10% off for Whitemead guests. The Wye Valley Walk, one of Britain’s prettiest long-distance trails, starts in nearby Chepstow (16). For fit hikers, the first 15-mile leg is easily done in a day – traversing thick forest, riverside pathways, and the towering ruins of Tintern Abbey. There are plenty of gentler rambles nearby too, as well as routes designed for those with mobility issues and families with pushchairs: see the Wye Valley ‘12 Easy Walks’ brochure for details (wyedeantourism. The four-mile Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail (17) combines woodland strolling with locally crafted treasures, such as a huge stained-glass window suspended from the tree canopy. For more creative encounters, Nature In Art (18) is the world’s first museum and art gallery dedicated wholly to wildlife, spanning everything from watercolours to exotic bronze sculptures. Feeling inspired? Check out the halfday Dare To Dabble art sessions, suitable for all ages and experience levels. Whitemead guests also receive two-for-one tickets. A ten-minute drive from Whitemead, Perrygrove Railway (19) has treehouses, trains and treasure hunts to discover – and guests of the park get 10% off tickets.


Forest of Dean map

1. THE FORESTERS (ON-SITE), 01594 560400

2. THE WOODMAN INN (0.2 MILES), 01594 563273

3. PUZZLEWOOD (3 MILES), 01594 833187


5. MALLARDS PIKE GO APE (2.5 MILES), 01603 895500

6. CLEARWELL CAVES (3 MILES), 01594 832535

7. HOT POT POTTERY (5 MILES), 01594 837943

8. THE FOUNTAIN INN (0.3 MILES), 01594 562189

9. LYDNEY BREW (4 MILES), 01594 841729

10. DEAN FOREST RAILWAY (3 MILES), 01594 845840

11. KRAZY GOLF LYDNEY (5 MILES), 01594 840082

12. DEAN HERITAGE CENTRE (5 MILES), 01594 822170

13. WYE VALLEY BUTTERFLY ZOO (12 MILES), 01600 890360; also see Kingfisher Cruises (01432 267862


15. CHEPSTOW (13 MILES), 01594 833940

16. Chepstow (13.2 miles)

see for walking trail maps


18. NATURE IN ART (21.8 MILES), 01452 731422

19. PERRYGROVE RAILWAY (3 MILES), 01594 834991

All distances are approximate

Boundless by CSMA is a trading name of Motoring & Leisure Services Limited, a subsidiary of the Civil Service Motoring Association Limited, registered office Britannia House, 21 Station Street, Brighton, BN1 4DE, registered in England no: 02813598. Motoring & Leisure Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority.