The Paddocks Hotel in Symonds Yat was our base for four days of walking in and around the Forest of Dean and the Wye valley.
With only 6 members present we drove the short distance to Goodrich Castle car park and set off as a single group down a track below Coppett Hill. We soon encountered what was to become a regular feature of our stay; missing or unsigned footpaths. After re-planning the walk we headed for Welsh Bicknor Youth Hostel then crossed the river on an old railway viaduct and headed for Low Lydbrook, where we had lunch closely watched by a pair of Llamas. A steep muddy and unmarked path then led to a dismantled tramway which we followed before battling down to the road and the riverside path to Kerne Bridge and on to the cafe at Goodrich Castle for well-earned tea and cakes.
There were now 20 members so we split into two groups. For the A party Greg led a circular walk from Coleford passing his father’s house then through the forest to the New Fancy viewpoint (the site of an old coal mine) and back to Coleford.
The ‘B’ walk, led by Ian, included walking from Coleford, up through Puzzle Wood, before opening up to lovely views towards Wales for our lunch-stop. We then followed leafy tracks, country lanes and paths alongside ploughed fields taking us to the village of Newland and the beautiful ‘Cathedral of the Forest’. This was where Peter Mann played hymns on the piano and we sang along enjoying the wonderful acoustic the church offered. After that interlude we continued on tracks and bridleways back to Coleford, via the Memorial Park, and met up with ‘A’ party in a Tea Shop!
After dinner we convened in the lounge for Gaynor’s Autumnal Quiz and Ian’s challenging map-reading questions!
Heather joined us as a ‘day-tripper’.
The ‘A’ party drove to Symonds Yat Rock on the other side of the river then descended to the river path and walked upstream. On the outskirts of Lydbrook the curse of the missing footpaths struck again; we were rescued by a local resident who kindly walked with us to show the way, much to the amusement of his neighbours! The rain which had been threatening for some time finally arrived just as we reached the cafe at the end of the walk.
The ‘B’ party parked near Symonds’ Yat rock, which gives a wonderful view over the River Wye and where you may see Peregrines fly, and then experienced rather muddy paths near the river before emerging onto open fields for lunch. We then ascended to English Bicknor where we encountered a Wedding at the church and had to dodge the confetti thrown in the church-yard and make sure we didn’t appear on any of the Wedding photos!
In the evening we were joined for dinner by Martin and Roger. That evening was a trip down ‘memory lane’ with Ian’s Footprints’ Slide show, which was enjoyed by all.
We walked as a single group from the hotel up through the forest to King Arthur’s Cave, then to a spectacular view at Seven Sisters Rocks before dropping back to the river and walking to Biblins Bridge. At this point some of the group returned along the riverside to the Hotel. The remaining party had lunch then crossed the bridge and took a steep climb through the forest to Harkening Rock followed by a much gentler descent back to the river then along the bank back to the hotel.
Many thanks to Ian for organising the break and leading the ‘B’ walks, and to Greg for leading the ‘A’ walks.
Dave and Elaine
Maps of our walks