Leaf Peeping Hotspots
There are no shortages of places to go and see the amazing array of autumn colours across the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, but we’ve scratched our heads and picked out the very best top 10 spots to make sure you don’t miss out:
1. Symonds Yat Rock
Perched high atop an outcrop of limestone, Yat Rock overlooks the meandering River Wye and takes in unspoilt panoramas of the rich mixed forest landscape. Look below the rock to see an ancient woodland of small leaved lime trees changing from a rich green to a golden yellow. For an extra special view, take the Mailscot Wood trail turning right from Yat Rock car park for a lower viewpoint of the River Wye.
2. The Kymin
Climb to the very top to reach the National Trust’s 18th-century round house with views of the rolling Monmouthshire hills where, on a clear, day it’s even possible to spot the Black Mountains in the distance. In contrast to the dense forest views of the other spots along the drive, the surrounding landscape is a mosaic of woodland, fields and hedgerows creating a tapestry of yellows and deep golds that are interwoven with the lush greens of the fields.
3. Tintern & The Devil’s Pulpit
Next to the River Wye and surrounded by a densely wooded valley, Tintern Abbey is an iconic spot for autumn colours. Stand on the railway bridge for foliage dense views in each direction along the valley or climb up to the Devil’s Pulpit where legend has it the devil himself used to lure monks away from the Abbey below. We actually think he was up there admiring the ancient yew tree and stunning views.
4. The Eagle’s Nest
Do you like a challenge? Then ascend the 365 steps (there is a gentler zig-zag option from the car park) from the valley below to reach Eagle’s Nest and look out for beech, ash and oak which will turn the woodland into a rich palette of russets, golden yellows and copper browns come autumn. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with views that span from the Wye out to the River Severn and the Cotswold Hills beyond.
5. Wintour’s Leap
This viewpoint overlooks steep limestone cliffs and the Wye located on the edge of the Lancaut Nature Reserve. It is home to over 350 plant species including small leaved lime and wayfaring trees amongst beech, oak, ash and cherry that collide in a carnival of colour during autumn.
A truly magical setting at any time of the year, this gnarly ancient woodland literally glows in autumn. And, as rays pierce its canopy, mushrooms emerge from the golden carpet below it, creating a fairytale-like environment to lose yourself in.
7. New Fancy View & Mallards Pike
New Fancy offers 360-degree views where you get a sense of the enormous scale of the Forest of Dean. Keep your eyes peeled as yellow birch and orange beech give way to the evergreen conifers in the distance and, on a clear day, nearby Mallards Pike will reflect the bright orange needles of the larch trees and the pink bark of the Scots pine.
The 'Golden Mile' - Bonus ‘Peeping’ Hotspot Option
If you fancy a bit more ‘peeping’ why not head out on the Golden Mile? From New Fancy head south and take the Roman Road before Wenchford Picnic Site travelling underneath Blackpool Bridge towards Bradley Hill. This road is locally known as the Golden Mile because of its spectacular autumn foliage as the road is flanked by a riot of colour with a glowing golden canopy overhead.
Follow this road, turning left at Soudley towards Ruspidge and on to Cinderford to loop back on to the main Leap Peeping Drive before heading to the Cyril Hart Arboretum.
8. Cyril Hart Arboretum
The arboretum next to the Speech House Hotel is home to over 200 tree species that create a rich palette of autumn colours, from the bright yellow of the tulip trees to the deep reds of the maples. A great spot to ‘peep’ some non-native species with stunning colour displays.
9. Beechenhurst & Cannop Ponds
Beechenhurst is known as the activity hub of the Forest of Dean with cycle trails, walking paths and a 4.5 mile Sculpture Trail. Its mighty birches show off white bark contrasting with their own yellow leaves and the golden browns of nearby sturdy oaks. Cannop Ponds is less than a mile away and by contrast is surrounded by alders, one of the last trees to turn in autumn.”.
10. Goodrich Castle, Kerne Bridge & Coppett Hill
The ancient woodlands above Kerne Bridge can be enjoyed from both the medieval castle of Goodrich or the higher vantage point of Coppett Hill which offers a kaleidoscope of colour when the sweet chestnuts, beeches, oaks, hawthorns and ash all begin to change colour.