Lydney has a New Zealand connection!

The New Zealand connection with Lydney.

The first Viscount Bledisloe of Lydney, Sir Charles Bathurst, had a distinguished position as Governor General of New Zealand from 1930-1935. In the Spring it is possible to visit the Lydney Park Estate and the Bledisloe house, where you will see many artefacts from the first Viscount’s time in New Zealand. Rugby fans will recognise that the Bledisloe cup represents the tournament between New Zealand and Australia!

The garden is certainly worth a visit in spring as it features an impressive expanse of rhododendron bushes. You will also find ruins of a Roman temple, excavated by prominent archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler.

In Lydney St Mary’s church you can see the Bathurst Chapel where a stained glass window commemorates the Viscount’s time in New Zealand.

Viscount Bledisloe
Bathurst Chapel, Lydney Church

Lancaut Church service

Service held at the isolated Lancaut church where restoration work has recently been completed.

Photo of Lancaut Church service
Photo from the Forest Review

After a gap of 150 years since the last regular worship, a service was held in the ruins of St. James Church near the Lancaut peninsula not far from the viewpoint at Wintour’s Leap near Woodcroft  in Gloucestershire. The congregation descended many steep steps down to the banks of the river Wye to hear the Vicar of Tidenham conduct a service. He also quoted the words of a young Eleanor Ormerod  (born 1829) describing her impressions and experience of her only service at the church: “exceeding picturesqueness of the spot which might have furnished an excellent subject for a painting” . She also noted that whereas she was sitting with her family in “the pew”, others “disposed themselves on the grass where they had full enjoyment of the fresh summer air and heard through the open door“.

St James’s has just undergone some  restoration work to stabilse the structure. The newly restored chancel arch can be seen in the photo above. The work was carried out by the Forest of Dean Historic Buildings Preservation Trust.

The unusual lead font from the church can still be be seen in Gloucester cathedral.

A photo of the ruins Lancaut church on the banks of the Wye.
Lancaut church – photo from the web site of the Forest of Dean Historic Buildings Preservation Trust.

Lancaut Nature Reserve

A landslip has damaged part of the riverside path to Lancaut
A landslip near Lancaut has destroyed a section of the path.

One of the most spectacular walks along the River Wye goes through the Lancaut Nature Reserve — an area of Special Scientific Interest. There are grand views of both sides of the river, with thickly-wooded areas as well as sheer limestone cliffs. The Reserve is easily reached from Chepstow, Tutshill or Woodcroft, and the walks take in parts of the Offa’s Dyke Path, Wintour’s Leap, and the ruins of the ancient St. James’ Church.

However, since the harsh winter of 2014, parts of the path have been difficult to cross. Walkers who enter the reserve now see a sign from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust warning of a “significant additional hazard” of steep loose soil caused by landslip. They aren’t kidding! There has always been a “challenging” section of the path, scrambling over boulders from an old quarry. This new hazard is trickier as the path is obliterated and the angle is steep.

Symonds Yat Rock

The view from Symonds Yat Rock is one of the iconic images of the Wye Valley.

Symonds Yat Rock
Symonds Yat Rock

The Wye Valley A.O.N.B. ‘Overlooking the Wye” project has made this popular viewpoint accessible to many more people with a new wheelchair-friendly wooden walkway up to the viewpoint. Part of the wall has been replaced with a strong see-through grill (far right of photo)  that allows all to enjoy this view of the Wye sweeping past Coppet Hill.
Symonds Yat Rock was, and still is, one of the highlights of the grand Wye Valley tour. Wordsworth and Nelson would have glided by in a boat. Nowadays we enjoy it by foot or by coach.  A topograph shows directions and distances to the major landmarks.
Back in the car-park, near the toilet block, new interpretation boards show an impression of the Iron Age promontary hill fort that used to exist here. Look for the iron age ramparts as you walk up towards the log cabin. Another intrepretation board explains how the present day landscape was sculpted out by the river Wye.

The group above enjoying the view from Yat Rock are a taking part in a walk devised and led by a Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour Guide.

Hill 33 Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

Hill 33 is the latest exhibit on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail.

Hill 33 on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
Hill 33 on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

Hill 33 is the latest exhibit on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. David Cotterell was inspired by “concertainer” units used by our armed forces to erect large defensive structures in Afganistan.

This sculture is the reverse of the process of the piling up of mining waste, then removing it at a later date.  Over 1,000 tonnes of waste was brought here to fill the containers and create this pyramid-like structure which is 11m high.

 This will eventually have bluebells and other forest plants adding to the attraction.