Wildlife and Nature
The Forest of Dean was designated as a National Forest Park in 1938, the first in England. This particular designation was not concerned with nature and conservation of the area, but more concerned with its natural beauty and its potential for outdoor leisure. Today, it is still a working forest and Forestry England manages it sympathetically and sensitively while liaising on conservation matters with the main conservation bodies. These ancient woodlands and its variety of wildlife hold many surprises just waiting to be discovered!
The area to the north of the forest itself offers another haven for those of you wishing to explore more open land and rolling hills, with farmland, market gardens and vineyards, offering a contrasting geographical landscape.
Spring-time is a favourite time to visit the Forest and Wye, with the brilliant green of the new beech, and the spectacular colours of the bluebells and daffodils. The orchards of the valleys of Leadon turn pink and white with apple, pear and plum blossom, and you can smell a hint of blackthorn and elder from the hedges. Along the Severnside and among the Forest villages there are many old orchards with rare and local fruit trees including the Blakeney pear, Blaisdon red plum and Severn bank apple.
Delightful spring flowers in the Forest include wood anemone, celandine, dogs mercury, primrose and violet which bloom before the overhead foliage thickens. Plus of course the carpets of bluebells and wild garlic which fill the woods with the scents of spring.
Autumn is a spectacular time of year in the Forest of Dean when the trees display an array of reds, golds and yellows. Despite the importance of the conifers, almost half the trees in the Forest of Dean are oak or beech, with some plantations of sweet chestnut. This magnificent autumn foliage is popular and attracts many visitors. Larch - the only coniferous tree to lose its needles, also turns a magnificent russet-gold in October.
Find out more in our guide to Leaf Peeping including our top ten spots for the best autumn colour and a driving route to see them all.