Forest of Dean

Krepostnoi

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I have a few days booked in Cinderford - where nearby is worth a visit? The search has brought up references to smurfs, false widow spider outbreaks, and a haunted pub in St Briavels. My elder daughter, who has featured in these pages before, will be in the Youth Hostel there - I've a feeling I've seen references to that hostel before, too. Is Littledean Hall still open to the public? Any more for any more?
 
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Gloucestrian

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I'm in Gloucester and my house is infested with false widow spiders - Steatoda grossa mainly. They've been in the area for about 10 years now.

The Forest is great. Don't mention the bear.

The Wye valley is beautiful. Tintern Abbey is worth a look, in my opinion. Lover's Leap is a great viewpoint as is Symond's Yat and Wintour's Leap. If you're interested in botany the Wye valley and the Forest have many unusual species of tree, with large numbers of Service trees (Sorbus torminalis) and Sorbus sp. hybrids not found elsewhere though they are tricky to spot.

Offa's Dyke runs through the edge of the Forest and also nearby is Doward, a very ancient area - Vortigern's fort and a cave called King Arthur's Cave. I have not been to the latter.

Also on the Herefordshire side of the Wye is Welsh Bicknor with an unusual church, and Goodrich Castle.

P.S. If spiders are of interest, there are Segestria florentina in Gloucester also.
 
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oldrover

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My ex wife grew up in a haunted guest house in Cinderford. I don't recall now, but I'm sure she told me plenty of Fortean things about the area. As I remember it's that sort of place. Can be a bit rough though.
 

Krepostnoi

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I'm in Gloucester and my house is infested with false widow spiders - Steatoda grossa mainly. They've been in the area for about 10 years now.

The Forest is great. Don't mention the bear.

The Wye valley is beautiful. Tintern Abbey is worth a look, in my opinion. Lover's Leap is a great viewpoint as is Symond's Yat and Wintour's Leap. If you're interested in botany the Wye valley and the Forest have many unusual species of tree, with large numbers of Service trees (Sorbus torminalis) and Sorbus sp. hybrids not found elsewhere though they are tricky to spot.

Offa's Dyke runs through the edge of the Forest and also nearby is Doward, a very ancient area - Vortigern's fort and a cave called King Arthur's Cave. I have not been to the latter.

Also on the Herefordshire side of the Wye is Welsh Bicknor with an unusual church, and Goodrich Castle.

P.S. If spiders are of interest, there are Segestria florentina in Gloucester also.
Some great suggestions there, thank you! Now that you've said "don't mention the bear" , of course I have to ask "what bear?"

I have a love/hate with spiders, tending towards the arachnophobic end. This picture from Wikipedia of Segestria florentina is a case in point: I can appreciate the beauty of the green fangs against the deep black carapace, but - dear Gods - it's a repulsive looking beast.
 

Graylien

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Smurfs? Were they driving around in little cars? I vaguely remember Janet and Colin Bord writing about such an incident but no longer have the book.
 

Krepostnoi

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Weren't the driving gnomes witnessed at Wollaton Hall, near Nottingham? Unless there were more - presumably they found it relatively easy to travel . . . This was the episode I came across.
 

Gloucestrian

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My ex wife grew up in a haunted guest house in Cinderford. I don't recall now, but I'm sure she told me plenty of Fortean things about the area. As I remember it's that sort of place. Can be a bit rough though.
Definitely that sort of place. Not sure about rough, parts have a reputation but this is probably historic.

Some great suggestions there, thank you!
You're welcome - I'm glad they were of interest. There are other places that might be interesting, such as Clearwell Caves or Puzzlewood, but I was avoiding anything overly commercialised. The area around Staunton, in the Forest itself, is the best place to see wild boar, or was when I last looked into it carefully. That area also has some interesting ancient remains - standing stones, etc.

Now that you've said "don't mention the bear" , of course I have to ask "what bear?"
It is a reference to a long forgotten (by everyone other than Foresters and those who like to bait them) incident in which two bears were killed in the Forest near Drybrook. Oddly it is always referred to locally by "bear" singular rather than "bears" plural, in my experience. The residents of Ruardean and surrounds, aggrieved at being considered backwards, didn't like being reminded of the incident particularly as the people of Ruardean were falsely accused - it was apparently people from Cinderford who committed the act. In other parts of Gloucestershire, whose people generally think of the Foresters as being a bit backward and inbred, people sometimes refer to the bear story via "Don't mention the bear".

I have ancestors in the Forest as far back as the 1600s. I've never actually found the Foresters to be much different than any other part of the county.

I have a love/hate with spiders, tending towards the arachnophobic end. This picture from Wikipedia of Segestria florentina is a case in point: I can appreciate the beauty of the green fangs against the deep black carapace, but - dear Gods - it's a repulsive looking beast.
My wife is arachnophobic but I've managed to temper her fears somewhat. When I met her she'd leave the room if there was a spider in it, now she'll remove small ones herself but still asks me to remove the larger ones! All of which is just as well as we have a house in which spiders are very numerous.

I can't say I blame you with the Segrestrid spider. I wouldn't wish to come across one, and fortunately so far I haven't.
 
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