Most of us have been disappointed that our holidays have been cancelled due to the restrictions on movement caused by the pandemic Covid-19.
Robin Hood Coach tours, however, still managed to bring two coachloads of hearty visitors from Staffordshire to visit the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.
The coaches were set up so that social distanced seating took place. There was ample disinfectant and sanitizer, and all customers wore masks. As did the tour guide, who still managed to talk non-stop, even through a mask.
The coaches started from Bells Hotel in Coleford, visited Tintern Abbey, rode through the Wye Valley, and made a special effort to cover routes through the Forest that showed off the brilliant autumn colours. Most people enjoyed the glorious views from Yat Rock, where they were treated the sight of to two large military helicopters swooping up and down, practicing manoeuvres .
Fortunately the weather allowed all to sit outdoors for a mid-day snack at Beechenhurst, so that there were no concerns about getting too close!
A new arrival to Parkend is a railway truck in Parkend Deep Navigation Collieries livery. The truck is sited on a newly restored section of the siding that once served the loading wharf at Marsh Sidings- just past the Fountain Inn in the distance.
The inscription on this stone which looks as though it was carved yesterday says: MADGE A FAVOURITE MARE DIED 20TH MARCH 1897 THIS IS TO HER MEMORY BY P. & I. M. B. LET HER REMAINS REST UNDISTURBED SHE WAS AN HONEST AND WILLING SERVANT.
The P. B. was Philip Baylis, Deputy Surveyor of the Forest of Dean from 1893 to 1906. The I.M. was Isabelle Marguerite Baylis. The Deputy Surveyor was a crown official that lived at Whitemead Park.
Philip Baylis left memorials to several of his beloved animals in the Whitemead grounds, notably Satan, Nellie Bly, Towser and Madge.
TOWZER A DEAR LOVER OF HORSES FOR OVER 11 YEARS A FAITHFUL GUARDIAN AT WHITEMEAD DIED AUGUST 7TH 1904 THIS TO HIS MEMORY BY PB
THIS SUNDIAL PLACED IN THE GARDEN OF WHITEMEAD PARK, DEAN FOREST OVER THE REMAINS OF SATAN … HE WAS BORN IN 1894 AND DIED AT WHITEMEAD PARK ON SUNDAY 25 FEB 1906. HE DEARLY LOVED THE SUNSHINE.
It is not unusual for a tour guide to learn something new from the participants on a walk or talk.
So it was when a FoD guide delivered a talk to the Churchdown Horticultural Society on “A Walk in the Forest from your Armchair”. The guide was asked whether it was true that, when the new Globe Theatre was built on the southbank of the Thames in the early 1990’s, Forest of Dean Oaks were ordered by Sam Wanamaker. It is always prudent for a guide to admit ignorance and chase up the answer, which is what happened.
The guide promptly checked with another guide who had been working for the Forestry Commission at the time. Yes indeed, it was the case that Forest of Dean Oak — along with oaks from other forests — were used.
The guide got back to the contact from Churchdown and cheerfully confirmed that this was the case. The guide was relieved at the comments made by the secretary:
“We had such positive feedback after your talk which was informative, entertaining and easy to follow as you spoke so clearly – even with the aging microphone system!”