The Forest of Dean and canoeing along the river Wye- border between England and Wales.

St Briavels, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.
Sheep, St Briavels, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.

Although it's a challenge to get everyone together, I've been lucky enough to make friends who enjoy a camping trip as much as I do. Luke's invitation to sleep in the "garden" of his beautiful family home was just enough to rouse them into travelling across the country to the border with Wales.

 

At around 110km², the Forest of Dean is one of all too few remaining areas of ancient woodland that remind us of this island's original tree-covered state. Providing habitats for all manner of native wildlife and fighting a little of our carbon emissions, it's vitally important that we protect these areas of mixed woodland. The small village of St Briavels is just in the fringes of the forest, but we didn't find ourselves short of greenery and were pleased to escape from our city lives for a weekend of fresh air.

 

St Briavels, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.
Luke's photo. :)
Luke's photo. :)

After a week of typically British wind and showers, we'd dragged all our warmest gear from our respective corners of England, but were surprised to wake up early on Saturday morning, melting into our sleeping bags. Having arrived at around midnight, I was excited to discover where we were... Our tents, pitched in last night's drizzle, occupied a tiny patch of the meadow next to a picture-book farm house. There were fluffy chickens, a well stocked vegetable patch bursting with rhubarb and even a living willow arbour built by Luke himself. Our camping party had the air of a mini-festival and we relaxed in the sunshine as the stragglers began to arrive.

Monmouth canoes, River Wye, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.
Bluebells, Monmouth canoes, River Wye, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.

In an astonishing feat of organisation, Luke and Beth had arranged for us all* to rent canoes. After exploring a little and finding the castle, we spent some of the afternoon drifting down the river Wye. Stretching some 215kms, this flow of water is a fittingly majestic border to divide England from Wales- thankfully lacking in immigration controls... 

 

There were nesting swans, fluffy ducklings and by a happy accident, it was bluebell season. The woodland floor was tinged with purple and in contrast our rainy May, followed by this gorgeous sunshine, had made the foliage more vivid than usual. We paddled past the riverbank feeling like the clumsy cousins Lord of the Rings characters. 

Most of all, I'd like to thank Luke's parents, Clive and Jane, for all the delicious home-cooked food and for being such friendly hosts, Luke and Beth for working so hard to make it all happen and my friends for being as bizarre and fantastic as ever. I wish you all still lived down the corridor!

Monmouth canoes, River Wye, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.
St Briavels Castle- photo from their website.
St Briavels Castle- photo from their website.

Useful information...


You can rent canoes and kayaks for around £15 a head from Monmouth here.

 

If you're looking for truly unique, character-filled accommodation try staying in St Briavels Castle which amazingly has been converted into a hostel. More information and bookings on the YHA website.

 

There is also camping at Beeches Farm which isn't too far away and the Forest and Wye Valley site. If you were sneaky you might be able to find somewhere free.

 

Transport: To get around with out a car you can catch a train to Lydney or Chepstow. From here (checking the timetable online) you may be able to catch a bus. The most hassle free options might be cycling or hitchhiking.

 

Useful bus timetable- http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2014/04/69-Town-Country-Bus-Ltd.pdf 


Bluebells, ancient woodland, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.

*I'm sorry Bryony... next time!

Write a comment

Comments: 15
  • #1

    Nathan Anderson (Thursday, 21 May 2015 05:57)

    I love how green and lush the countryside looks! I'm sure that was an awesome break from being in the city :)

    Where are some other good spots in the UK for camping? I've never really thought of it as a camping destination before, but this looks really nice!

  • #2

    Luke Bailey (Thursday, 21 May 2015 16:46)

    Lovely write up Katie:) I've sent it onto my parents to have a read. So happy i got to share the area with you all. Maybe there will be a repeat event! Glad you saw the willow dome;p

  • #3

    Katie Featherstone (Thursday, 21 May 2015 18:31)

    Nathan: In Scotland there is a "right to roam" so you can camp anywhere you like as long as it isn't annoying a farmer. There's loads of great spots be the sea or in the mountains and you can camp for free. My experience is mostly only on Islay and Mull, but there are so many amazing places to see. The Lake District, Peak District and Dartmoor are similar in England- great for big open spaces and hills. Cornwall is beautiful too and I know a great little campsite near lansallos beach. Plenty of campsites on the South Coast, but it can get a little bit expensive sometimes. Still much cheaper than any accommodation. I don't know Wales or Northern Island very well yet, but they are a little less crowded than England so wild camping is easier I'd imagine.

    Luke: Thank-you so much for inviting us. I hope we can do it again soon!

  • #4

    Charlie (Thursday, 21 May 2015 22:25)

    I want go to the Forest of Dean and I want to stay in that castle!! Oh my gosh!! I've actually got a couple of friends who raved about having a great camping holiday in the Forest of Dean, sounded magical. Lovely photos, and definitely just makes me want to go out exploring and having a grand British holiday! :)

  • #5

    Katie Featherstone (Thursday, 21 May 2015 23:07)

    You should go now you're back in the UK Charlie. It's really wild and beautiful! I hope you make it. :)

  • #6

    Natasha von Geldern (Friday, 22 May 2015 10:57)

    Now this canoeing trip is something I've been wanting to do for years - I must get it organised! Had to laugh at the setting up camp at midnight after the drive to Wales - done that so many times :) Really glad you had fun!

  • #7

    Katie Featherstone (Friday, 22 May 2015 13:42)

    That's so interesting Natasha! I hope you make it. I really want to explore Wales more too.

  • #8

    Joshua (Saturday, 23 May 2015 16:14)

    Great page and pictures here. Going on a canoe trip is always fun thanks for sharing. Never been there yet just canoe trips here in the USA.

  • #9

    Katie Featherstone (Saturday, 23 May 2015 16:28)

    Thanks Joshua! :)

  • #10

    Sarah Elizabeth || SEDiva Abroad (Sunday, 24 May 2015 08:29)

    AAAh! So beautiful, and I'm so impressed with your trip idea! haha

  • #11

    Katie Featherstone (Sunday, 24 May 2015 11:40)

    Thanks Sarah! Why waste the weekend?!

  • #12

    Mary {The World Is A Book} (Tuesday, 02 June 2015 05:08)

    This looks like a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love how green the meadows look and the whole area is just so scenic. I'm not the camping type but I would happily stay at that St Briavels Castle.

  • #13

    Katie Featherstone (Tuesday, 02 June 2015 13:36)

    Yeah, we visited it to look around Mary. It looks like an amazing place to stay. Wonder if it's haunted?!

  • #14

    Natasha von Geldern (Wednesday, 25 May 2016 19:58)

    Excellent, looks just like what I'm looking for!

  • #15

    Katie Featherstone (Wednesday, 25 May 2016 20:06)

    Thank-you :)

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