100 Years of the Forestry Commission

A large stone has been installed on Spruce Ride near the Speech House to mark 100 years of the Forestry Commission. The plaque reads:

Commemorating the Centenary of the Forestry Commission and all those people who took part in its achievements

A separate smaller stone nearby tells us that Spruce Ride was planted c. 1850, Replanted c. 1920 and replanted c. 2010 and continues:

In commemoration of retired Forestry Commission Staff who have dedicated a part of their working lives to the ongoing management of the Forest of Dean“.

A photo of Cherry Trees on Spruce Ride
Cherry Trees on Spruce Ride

Mallards Pike Cafe

Visitors to Mallards Pike Lakes are now able to use the new Café during their visit. Nearby in the tree canopy is the popular GoApe aerial activity and at ground level Segways can be hired.

Of course, visitors can also walk around the lakes or along miles of footpaths and tracks in the adjoining forest. New Fancy viewpoint is within easy walking distance- a lovely 3 mile round trip.

Introduction to Threshold

A new Sculpture has been added to the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail in Beechenhurst.

Guests to the unveiling discuss the sculpture

The unveiling of the sculpture — Threshold by Natasha Rosling — took place on a sunny afternoon, where guests were able to view the new work and discuss it with the artist while enjoying a can of local cider.

The Sculpture Trail has existed for more than 30 years, but the sculptures are constantly changing. Old ones are taken down because, in their weather-beaten state they are no longer safe, or have decayed. New ones are then commissioned and revealed to the public.

The sculptures represent different features of the Forest of Dean, whether it be coal mining, stone quarrying, railways or local wildlife. Threshold, with its vivid red colouring, harks back to the mining or iron ore. The artist spent time underground in Clearwell Caves, which was once a important area for iron extraction.

Threshold is described in the artist’s handout as “a meeting of two environments, at the threshold between the inside and the outside, moisture condenses into droplets that cling to the ceiling of the cave”.


Spring begins in the Forest of Dean

The warm weather in late March has seen Spring arrive in the Forest. Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon watchers joined the visitors and enjoyed the sunny weather at Symonds Yat Rock. The scene in the photo will soon look much different when the trees on the left burst into leaf.

Visitors may be interested to know that phone and 4G data coverage on the Rock is very good.

Mark Steel on Radio 4 on Valentine’s Day

BBC Radio4 listeners will be familiar with the programme “Mark Steel’s in Town”. The infamous comedian visits a town or region in Britain and finds the funny side to local peculiarities. Mark recorded such a programme in Speech House in the Forest of Dean at the beginning of December in front of a packed audience.

Residents of Bream and Coleford were most indignant that he concentrated his talk on Cinderford, on Ruardean — which he found difficult to pronounce — and the Dean Heritage Centre. He was fascinated by “Vorrest” dialogue, expressions such as “Fern Ticket” (look it up!), long-standing Forest traditions, and VIP’s such as Dennis Potter. He felt safe enough in Speech House to ask “Who killed the bears?”, and was treated to tales from a resident who made that mistake in the old Roebuck pub in Ruardean Woodside.

At one time, wandering sheep would have featured in his talk. Now the wild boar — more precisely, the feral pigs — took centre stage. The audience was divided on its attitude toward the beasts.

If you found this post baffling, listen to the programme at 6.30 on BBC Radio4 on 14 February. All will be explained!