Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean is one of the outstanding wooded areas of England, situated in Gloucestershire, close to the Welsh border. It lies to the West of the River Severn and East of the Wye.
It covers 35 square miles, and consists largely of oak and beech. In 1938 it was designated England’s first National Forest Park, but had been a Royal hunting forest from the Middle Ages.
The major towns within the Forest are Coleford, Cinderford and Lydney.
Historically, the Forest was exploited from Roman times for its timber, iron and coal. There is a Dean Heritage Centre which explains a lot of this history, and evidence can be seen at Clearwell Caves.
The Speech House, now a hotel, was the centre of the Forest’s parliament from 1680. It retains its Verderers Court Room. The people who live in the Forest are known as “commoners”, and have rights of sheep pasturage.
The dramatist Dennis Potter was a native of the Forest of Dean, and another born in the area is Jimmy Young, the former pop singer turned radio presenter. J.K.Rowling, creator of the “Harry Potter” books, also lived here.
The Forest today is crisscrossed by roads, footpaths and bridleways, and is very popular with walkers.