Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tour guides deliver talks in all sorts of far-flung locations, normally in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Gwent. We were delighted, however, to be invited into Oxfordshire to address the Lechlade Gardening Club. The group asked for a talk on the Forest’s two great rivers, the Severn and the Wye. The talk took place minutes away from the source of another great river — the Thames.
While the Thames may be more famous, the Severn is longer and more likely to be “vigorous”, to say the least. The talk included details of the Great Flood of 1607 which is still being debated. Tsunami, or very bad weather? The talk also made reference to Samuel Pepys’ visit, Civil War events in Newnham, the importance of Lydney Harbour, and other stories. Although an hour could easily be filled with tales of the Severn alone, the talk also contained tales of the Forest’s other great river, the Wye.
The Wye is famous for being the birthplace of British tourism, or the first “staycations” in the mid-18th century. It also has the birthplace of King Henry V, or Henry Monmouth, famous for his stunning victory at Agincourt. A famous ghostly event took place during the civil war at Goodrich Castle, by the Wye.
Members of The Narth Gardening Club experienced something very different from flowers and shrubs when they invited a speaker from the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour guides to deliver a talk on Iron and Coal in the Forest of Dean. The enormous, wide-ranging topic was whittled down to cover some history, some VIP’s, and some hints on interpreting industrial archaeology.
Members of the club broadened their vocabulary with new words such as “scowles”, “leat”, “freeminer”, “gale”, “gaveller” to name a few. They were taken through the centuries, covering the iron age, the Romans, the Plantagenets, the Stuarts who set up the Kings Iron Mines to the disgruntlement of the privileged Freeminers. They heard about the Mushets, father and son, who were so instrumental in the iron industry and the development of steel. They heard about the antics of striking coal-miners during the 1926 General Strike.
They saw photos of important monuments such as the early 17th century Guns Mill blast furnace, Darke Hill Iron Mine, Whitecliffe Furnace, New Fancy geomap; commemorative art works from the Sculpture Trail, from Pan Tod, from the site of the Union Colliery, etc.
The session, followed by tea and homemade cakes — welcome refreshments after an in-depth topic.
We ventured across the river Severn to give a talk to the members of Minchinhampton Gardening Club. In fact, the River Severn was part of the topic! The talk is called “A Tale of Two Rivers: the Savage Severn and the Wistful Wye“. The Forest of Dean is hugged on both sides by the two great rivers, which have the same origin in Plynlimon in Wales — very different routes! — and the same end in Chepstow.
The talk can’t possibly cover everything there is to say about the two rivers. However, the members of the Gardening Club heard about the Severn flood of 1607, the elver wars in Victorian times, the visit of Samuel Pepys, ghosts at Goodrich Castle, stories of Monmouth, Tintern Abbey, iron works at Symonds Yat — just to name a few things.
“A Tale of Two Rivers” is certainly one of the most popular talks offered by Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour guides. There is also a follow-up talk specifically about the 18th century boat tours on the Wye which marked the beginnings of “staycations” in England and Wales — “Down the Wye Without a Paddle“.
Contact us to book one of these talks or one of the many other talks that we offer.
Members of Sutton St. Nicholas Women’s Institute in Herefordshire were enthralled by a talk on “The Mysterious Forest — Spooky tales from the Dean & Wye“.
The speaker chose from a treasure trove of ghostly tales. There are at least two extremely haunted buildings — Littledean or Dean Hall, and St. Briavel’s Castle — which provide many intriguing tales. There are pubs and inns which have ghostly guests, such as the Angel in Coleford and the Fountain in Parkend, there are ghosts associated with mines, ghosts that wander down from Naas Lane in Lydney to Lydney Harbour. There are friendly, energetic ghosts working down Clearwell Caves!
“Our members were very impressed with the tales you had to tell. We even talked about it after you left“, was the comment from the WI Secretary when she wrote a thank you email.
This talked is regularly booked well in advance for autumn meetings when organisations plan for a Halloween thrill. If you hurry, you may still be able to book it for your organisation.