Forest of Dean tour guides come to the rescue!

When the members of the Rockfield WI in Monmouthshire found out that the speaker for their November meeting had double-booked, they knew exactly where to turn for help.

The contacted the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tour Guides to step in and fill the sudden gap. The guides have experienced, qualified speakers who have traveled as far as Oxfordshire to enlighten and entertain organisations. With an extensive list available, the guides were able to find something to satisfy the local WI group.

The guide who saved the day spoke on “A Tale of Two Rivers”, covering the two rivers surrounding the Forest of Dean — the Severn and the Wye. However, given the group’s proximity to the River Wye, the guide focused mainly on the Severn, and contoured the talk to meet the needs of the local group.

If your group finds yourself in a similar predicament, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Dinedor WI members brave spooky tales from the Forest of Dean

On a hot July evening members of the Dinedor / Holme Lacy WI shivered when they heard tales of ghosts, spooks and poltergeists in the Forest of Dean. Things that go bump in the night is one of the most popular talks delivered by Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tour Guides. The talk is often requested for the autumn, to mark Halloween. However, it works well any time of year.

There are so many spooky tales that the guide could pick and choose the most haunted pubs, the most haunted streets, the most romantic ghosts, the most helpful ghosts, the funniest ghosts, the goriest tales, etc. This was not difficult, given the wide choice. For example, Dean Hall in Littledean is known as one of the most haunted houses in the entire country. St. Briavel’s Castle is regularly visited by organisations who monitor the para-normal. Pubs like the Fountain Inn in Parkend and the Angel in Coleford vie for the title of the most haunted pub.

The participants were so enthralled by the talk that they did not even check their smartphones to find out whether France or Belgium won the World Cup semi-final football game!

Naas Lane
Naas Lane in Lydney, haunted by a ghostly murderer


Talking Severn on the Thames?

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.

And not one mention of the Thames!

Symonds Yat
View from Symonds Yat

Iron and Coal

Plaque commemorating accident in the Pludds Colliery

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.

Talk for Minchinhampton Gardening Club

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.