“They never stopped talking about how good it was”

val's coach tourForest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour guides escorted two two groups of retired GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) staff in coaches from Worthing around the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. GSK was once an important employer in the Forest of Dean, with a factory in Coleford manufacturing Ribena. This factory was recently taken over by the Japanese company Suntory. However, there is another historic GSK connection in the Forest: Horlicks, manufactured by GSK in Slough, was developed in the forest village of Ruardean by bothers James and William Horlick! The groups stopped for coffee  in the historic Verderers Court, part of the Speech House Hotel, and lunch in the market town of Monmouth. The tour organiser from GSK was thrilled with the arrangements and praised the two tour guides for their entertaining commentary and depth of knowledge of the area. “They never stopped talking about how good it was”, was the organiser’s comment about the groups’ experience of the tour.

From Norfolk to the Wye Valley

Reading the RSPB panels at Symonds Yat.

A lively group from Norfolk enjoyed a coach tour of the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley, provided by Eastons Holidays. Starting from Coleford, they travelled past Puzzlewood, famous for its bizarre landscape which attracts filming as glamorous as Star Wars, past Clearwell Caves – no less famous as Dr. Who episodes were filmed there. They saw sites of ancient iron works, coal mines, quarries, the famous Speech House which houses the Verderers’ Court, and the charming villages of Ruardean, Lydbrook and English Bicknor.

Eastons coaches
The group was very punctual and the coach left on time!

They spent time at the lower Wye Valley’s most spectacular sites – Symonds Yat and Tintern Abbey. They stopped for lunch at the market town of Monmouth which straddles the River Wye and the River Monnow. Hopefully, their lunch was modest, as they eventually headed back via Chepstow and St. Briavel’s to Bells Hotel in Coleford for a sumptuous dinner.

A whirlwind tour

tea at old court
Tea at the Old Court

A Probus group from Cheshire enjoyed a whirlwind tour of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Starting at Chepstow, the group then travelled into the depths of the Forest, past notable places such as Dark Hill, Nagshead, Speech House, the Dean Heritage Centre, then on to Ross-on-Wye to browse and grab some lunch. The group then went on to Symonds Yat West for a boat trip starting from the grounds of St. Dubricius Church, with its magnicent 17th century tulip tree. The group was fortunate enough to see a hand ferry in operation, starting from the Saracens Head in Symonds Yat East, to the west side. After the boat trip, everyone enjoyed a lavish cream tea at the 16th century Old Court Hotel. To some on the trip, the highlight of the day was yet to come. The coach the the road along the River Wye and stopped at Tintern Abbey so that all could take a look at the magnificent ruin and take some memorable photos.

Steam Dreams come true!

Dean Forest Railway
Dean Forest Railway

Hundreds of steam train enthusiasts gathered at Lydney Station on 20 August to greet one of the famous Merchant Navy class locomotives, 35028 Clan Line, built by the Southern Railway. This was part of a tour organized by Steam Dreams, a company running Cathedral Express rail tours. The tour started in London and travelled to Cardiff, but many passengers took the opportunity to alight at Lydney and experience an excursion on the Dean Forest Railway. Many were eager to see the new Whitecroft Station for the first time.

At Parkend, many passengers opted to take a coach tour through the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, guided by two Forest of Dean & Wye Valley tour guides, both rail fans themselves. The tour showed off the lush, green Forest roads, going through towns of Coleford and Cinderford, villages such as Lydbrook, Ruardean, Clearwell, eventually landing up in Tintern – the jewel in the crown of the River Wye. We enjoyed the spectacle of Tintern Abbey, looking glorious in the sunshine. On the way back, the passengers had a chance to see the River Severn, as the tour went by Chepstow, back to the Forest via Tutshill and St. Briavels, where the coaches skirted around St. Briavels Castle. On the way back to Lydney, the coach driver and guide treated the passengers to a debate on whether Bream should be called a village or a town. The jury is still out on that one!

Steam Train
35028 Clan Line at Lydney

Enjoying hospitality at Abbey Mill in Tintern

Abbey Mill
Abbey Mill, Tintern

Exhausted after a sumptuous tea at Abbey Mill.
Not everyone is glued to the telly during the Olympics! A group from Wales joined a coach tour to view the delights of the Forest of Dean. Driven by Ben, one of Brent Thomas’fine drivers, and guided by a Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tour Guide, the coach tour covered many of the Forest’s finest jewels, from Speech House to the Dean Heritage Museum, from the River Wye, to views of the River Severn. While most of us have been unhappy about the rainy summer, we saw the benefits. The lush vegetation gave the Forest a very rich texture. The big surprise was the lack of sheep running around dodging the traffic. Only one dared show his little face to our group. They must have been watching the equestrian events!We landed up in Tintern and enjoyed a splendid tea at Abbey Mill, our hosts. We waddled out, sated, to see the water wheel and the fine views of the Abbey.