Given as a present to the ‘inhabitants of Lydney and Aylburton’ by the Bathurst family in 1920, Bathurst Swimming Pool in Lydney is considered to be one of Gloucestershire’s best kept secrets. This 38 metre outdoor pool in the Forest of Dean is run by volunteers and open for at least ten weeks during the summer each year. Check opening times before you go – 01594 84 26 25 or via their Facebook page @bathurstpool.
Beechenhurst lies in the heart of the Forest of Dean, and offers a wonderful day out. It is the starting point for the famous Sculpture Trail, plus there are three additional waymarked walks to choose from. If cycling is more your thing, there is easy access onto the Family Cycle Trail. The main play area has a newly installed zip wire and picnic area and there is a separate toddler area too. When playtime has finished you can eat at the Beechenhurst Cafe which provides a range of wholesome food. There is also a climbing tower, with 36 different routes and 2 vertical abseils, and an archery teaching centre. What more is there to be said? A grand day out for all the family!
Berkeley Castle is an ancient fortress home where the Berkeley family have lived since their ancestor, Robert Fitzharding, completed the Keep in the late 12th Century. Considered a jewel in the crown of British history, the history played out within the castle’s walls make it one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain. Once you have toured the castle you can visit the Butterfly House which is located within the old walled kitchen garden at Berkeley Castle, adjacent to the Yurt Restaurant.
Well worth a visit, in particular Big Pit National Coal Museum. A visit to Big Pit includes a 300ft descent into the old colliery, where a former coal miner will take you on a fascinating and personal tour with the sights, sounds and smells of the mine creating an impression of what working life was like at the coalface. The best part is nearly everything you can visit here is free!
The remains on view at Caerleon provide you with a vivid picture of life in second-century Roman Britain. There are remains of the fortress wall, a large amphitheatre which would have seated an entire legion ie 6,000 spectators, and the finest remains of Roman barrack buildings in Europe. The Roman Baths are now in a museum which uses modern technology to demonstrate the grandeur of these Baths in their time.
An archaeologist’s paradise, this was the tribal capital of the Silures (Venta Silurum) with impressive fourth-century walls standing up to 17 feet (5.2m) high. Excavated houses, forum-basilica and a Romano-British temple also remain.
Visit Caldicot Castle in its beautiful setting of tranquil gardens and a wooded country park. Founded by the Normans, developed in royal hands as a stronghold in the Middle Ages and restored as a Victorian family home, the castle has a romantic and colourful history.
Opening days and/or hours may vary for special events or as a result of private bookings, please check the website.
Hire canoes or kayaks and make your way down the stunning River Wye either with or without a guide. There are three excellent providers: Monmouth Canoe, Forest Adventure and Adventure River
Caving (also known as speleology, or in some cases pot-holing) is the exploration of natural underground passages and chambers, usually formed where water has dissolved away limestone, or other similarly soft rock. Forest Adventure will take you caving in Symonds Yat – you’ll be fully equipped with hard hat and head torch and given instruction on caving. Once you get going, you’ll see wonderful underground rock formations and you’ll discover the fascinating history of the area you’re caving in. Suitable for all levels.
Cefn Mably Farm Park is a huge all weather family farm attraction & softplay in one. Set in rolling countryside between Cardiff and Newport, they offer a wonderful mixture of farm animals and softplay areas – the ideal place for action packed days out with the children. The fun begins as you enter the indoor soft play barn where the children can let off steam. Once everyone is worn out from feeding the animals on the farm and playing on the electric go-carts and real diggers, you can relax with a coffee and a slice of home made cake on a comfy leather couch.
Beautifully preserved Chepstow Castle is a history lesson in stone. From around 1067 through to 1690, the castle, almost chameleon-like, changed its appearance as fashions changed in military architecture. If you think modern doors are long lasting, think again. Chepstow boasts the oldest castle doors in Europe. All wood and all of 800 years old. The oldest building is the Norman great tower but building work continued well into the 17th-century as medieval battlements were replaced by stronger musket-friendly parapets. Bows and arrows were so last century!
Discover the wonder of under! The ancient mines at Clearwell Caves are a secret world hidden beneath the trees; they are an exciting underground experience for the whole family, an unfathomable natural cave system, extensively mined for iron ore to make some of Britain’s most complex and oldest mine workings. The mine dates back well over 4,000 years, when early miners dug for ochre pigments to make paints. Cafe, shop, picnic area, free parking.…
This is definitely a different way to spend an evening! Join Dark Wales Tours for exclusive night time access to some of the most historic and haunted sites in the area, including the renowned St Fagan’s Museum and the majestic Cardiff Castle in the capital, alleged to be among the most haunted sites in the country.
All tours are professionally conducted and explore the History, Myths, Legends and Ghostly phenomena of the various sites. The tours can’t always guarantee anything paranormal will happen of course but they do aim to give a historic and atmospheric insight to the venues they visit. But then again a number of strange occurrences have happened on the tours over the years, so you never know what may happen…….
The Museum of the Forest at the Dean Heritage Centre offers some great inside and outside attractions. Learn about the history of the Forest from the Ice Age to the present day, visit the museum and gallery, explore the Gruffalo woodland trail, see inside a reconstructed Forester’s cottage, visit a charcoal burner’s camp and see the working waterwheel, millpond and stream. Children will enjoy the woodland playground plus there is a cafe and gift shop. Set across a stunning and fully interactive five acre site, the Dean Heritage Centre protects and preserves the unique history and heritage of the beautiful Forest of Dean. With a full programme of special events, exhibitions, art shows and educational workshops across the year, it’s a great day out for all the family.
Imagine discovering a lost garden with tunnels and underground grottoes buried under thousands of tonnes of soil for over 50 years. That’s what happened at Dewstow gardens. The gardens are a wonderful place to wander in themselves, with beautifully landscaped paths and decorative beds, waterfalls and pools and beneath all this, a labrynth of tunnels and grottoes .
The 3 Maize Mazes are planted each year in April and reach ‘Maze’ height in mid July. Each year the Mazes have a new theme and are great for families and children. They also hold several special events throughout the season culminating with a Late Nate Special where for one night only you can explore the mazes by torchlight.
The Activities Maze is a permanent Maze. The Activities Maze has plenty of space for children and adults who want to run, hide, shout, climb, crawl, swing and work together as a team to get their group over, under, around or through the various activity areas, all within a protected countryside setting.
Established in 1986, this 4.5 mile long Sculpture Trail was one of the first to open in the UK. The trail features sculptures created by artists to interpret the forest environment and the history of this very unusual landscape. Perfect for all ages and abilities, you don’t need to know about art to enjoy what you see. Highlights on the trail include a 15ft high stained glass window suspended from the tree canopy enabling visitors to walk underneath and a giant chair made of sweet chestnut, which enjoys picturesque views. Walk it in one go or explore in a series of shorter distances.
If you’ve ever dreamed of swinging through the trees like Tarzan, this is your chance! Fly down zip-wires, rope swings and cross over obstacles in the tops of trees. You are briefed on safety beforehand and are always attached by a safety harness. Go Ape also offer a Segway adventure through the forests. Make sure you get directions from the website. SatNav doesn’t work in their very rural area!
This award winning family run bicycle hire centre offers the perfect starting point to get out and explore all the Forest of Dean has to offer. They cater for everyone – beginners to experts, families to race teams, mountain bikers to roadies. Hire a bike and take a leisurely ride through the glorious Forest of Dean.
View the countryside and landscape like never before by taking a hot air balloon ride with friends and family. You can take off from Raglan, but there are also optional sites to choose from so please visit their website for more information.
Set in the beautiful, rolling landscape alongside the Usk Valley the Visitor Centre has stunning, panoramic views over the water from the Lakeside Café. Just along the path from the Visitor Centre you will find the modern, purpose built Watersport Centre. Here they offer paddle and sail sports for all ages and abilities plus organised Open Water Swimming. With an array of land activities and events on offer, they are also a great place to fish, walk, picnic and watch wildlife. Open all year round and free to enter.
The Forest of Dean is one of the best locations in the UK to go mountain biking, it has trails for all levels of group and provides a fantastic adventure. Adventure River offer both bike hire and guides.
Llandegfedd is a hub for health, wellbeing and recreation and have a wonderful area for open water swimming. They are a SAFE Cymru Accredited Venue. SAFE Cymru (Safe Aquatic Facility Endorsement) is a brand new accreditation designed to support outdoor facilities in Wales. The accreditation has been developed by Swim Wales in close partnership with Welsh Triathlon and is recognised by Welsh Government, Sport Wales and AWWSG as the pinnacle of safe aquatic facility standards in Wales.
Otherwise known as Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), this is a great way to discover the River Wye whilst mastering a new sport! A session at Inspire 2 Adventure usually lasts two hours.
Treehouses, Trains and Treasure, whatever the weather! Perrygrove is a family attraction, aimed at those with children up to ten years old. There are four stations on the railway, each with paths leading to lovely walks through beautiful woodland. A round trip takes 30 minutes and there is no charge for extra train rides. The Twilight Village is great fun for children and just about big enough for most grown ups too! The Treetop Adventure is perfect for some outdoor fun, with a slide, bouncy bridge and ladders to climb. They have recently installed a new tunnel system at Foxy Hollow play area, which is proving to be a massive hit!
Puzzlewood is a unique and enchanting place, located in the beautiful and historic Forest of Dean. Explore a mile of meandering pathways, with its fantastic tree and rock formations. It has an atmosphere quite unlike any other wood you have visited. Puzzlewood also has a willow maze, indoor mazes and an out door playground.
A stunning statement of wealth and power. Everything’s impressive about this place, from its great tower, which evokes memories of earlier fortresses like Caernarfon, to the great gatehouse, which ‘wows’ the visitor just as its owner intended. If, as they say, an Englishman’s home is his castle, then William Herbert’s Raglan is the Welshman’s equivalent.
Set in the beautiful rolling countryside of Monmouthshire, Raglan Farm Park has something for everyone. Whether you wish to spend time in the barns, with over 7 play zones for all ages, simply wander around the paddocks and feed the animals, try the zip wires or take a tractor ride, the Williams’ provide the warmest of welcomes at their family run farm…
Take on the cliffs of Symonds Yat Rock with fantastic forest surroundings and lovely rock formations.
St Fagans National Museum of History is often called St Fagans after the village where it is located. A fantastic open-air museum in Cardiff chronicling the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people this is the perfect place for a great day out. The museum is also part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. There are more than forty re-erected buildings from various locations in Wales, and it is set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house. Previously named the United Kingdom’s favourite visitor attraction, the museum has so much to offer. Well worth a visit!
The Glade Tea Rooms is a lovely ocation to relax and enjoy homemade locally-sourced food in the heart of Wentwood Forest. It is family-friendly giving children the opportunity to freely play enjoying all that the woodland offers as well as offering activity packs and forest school activities.
Opened in 2016, The Royal Mint Experience is one of South Wales’ top rated attractions. From how coins are made, to rare pieces on display, the Experience brings a 1,100-year history to life. They make coins and medals for an average of 60 countries every year and can produce 90 million coins and blanks a week – almost five billion coins a year! On a visit to this fascinating site you’ll learn more about the history of The Royal Mint, and you will be able to see all the special coins and rare historical memorabilia that the exhibition holds. You will even have the chance to strike your very own coin!
The appeal of this exceptional Cistercian abbey remains as enduring as ever. An area of outstanding beauty complemented by this outstanding beauty in stone. If only the walls could talk! The chants of countless monks echo through the masonry here.
Built as a Victorian country railway station, the Old Station, Tintern is a charming site to visit for a quiet relaxing day out or to start your walk through the beautiful Wye Valley. The site features a pleasing riverside walk and meadows to explore, a children’s adventure play area with equipment suitable for 2 to 12s, a wide picnic site with barbecues for hire or tearoom if you prefer.The signal box houses changing exhibitions from local artists and crafts people so there’s plenty to look at. The Circle of Legends wood carvings which are hidden around feature local mythical or historic characters, forming a series of trails throughout Monmouthshire with delightful surprises where one least expects them.
Tredegar House is one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in the whole of the British Isles. Situated within 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this delightful red brick house provides an ideal setting for a fantastic day out. For more than 500 years the house was home to one of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, later Lords Tredegar. The Morgan family owned more than 40,000 acres in Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorgan at the end of the 18th century. Their lives impacted on the population of south-east Wales socially, economically and politically and influenced the heritage of the area.
Enchanting, romantic ruins overlook the small town of Usk, and the wide river valley beyond. Within a natural and peaceful setting, the ancient walls are covered with creeper, and old stone towers invite you to explore. This is a medieval castle that fell into disuse 500 years ago, waiting to be discovered.
In the picturesque and historic riverside town of Usk is a museum run by dedicated volunteers with “one of the best collections of its kind in Britain”. Housed in an ancient malt barn with adjacent buildings, Usk Rural Life Museum has 5000+ exhibits collected by local enthusiasts over the past 50 years in order to preserve the heritage of the life and work of country people in the Welsh Borders, from Victorian times onward. The museum houses a unique collection of artefacts, from the smallest hand tools and household items through to large agricultural machinery and vintage tractors.
If you are staying at Penhein there is the utterly fabulous Wentwood Forest right next door to the farm, so guests can walk around our own 450 acres and get to Wentwood Forest without getting in the car! Once part of the hunting grounds of Chepstow Castle, Wentwood offers walks with breathtaking views over the Severn Estuary. Its diversity of habitats means it is home to some wonderful wildlife.
White Castle is one of the most well preserved castles in Monmouthshire, with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
Pleasant, gentle river swim. Use the Usk Island car park, just on the Pontypool Road out of Usk as you are leaving the town. (Gates locked at 8pm) Toilets are open. The water is deep under the old railway bridge. Swim up stream, the left hand side is deeper. There is an 800m swimable section until you reach a man made narrowing. The water beyond this point is too shallow for swimming for at least 50m, haven’t gone beyond the next shallow section.
Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo are passionate about butterfly conservation, supporting sustainable butterfly farming worldwide.
At the zoo you can walk with butterflies from around the world. It is indoors, it’s tropical and it’s teeming with exotic butterflies which fly around as you discover their fascinating lives in close-up. See for yourself every stage of their life-cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis of some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies.
Running along the disused Wye Valley Railway the Wye Valley Greenway trail offers walkers and cyclists a relaxing way to visit the beautiful lower Wye Valley. This family friendly, traffic free trail winds its way 7 km along the Wye Valley, finishing at the beautiful Tintern Abbey and via the spectacular 1km Tidenham tunnel. Although most of the route can be used 24 hours a day 365 days a year, the tunnel is open in the daytime from 1 April to 30 September. There are signs for the alternative winter routes for walkers and cyclists over the top of the tunnel. If you want to cycle this glorious route there are a variety of bike hires in the area. Why not try www.pedalabikeaway.co.uk?
Date: 29th March - 22nd April 2024
We are thrilled to announce our Lambing Live for 2024, exclusive to Penhein...
Date: 2nd April - 6th April 2024
Join in for 5 days of walking fun! This popular festival provides lots of great...
Date: 19th - 20th April 2024
The Abergavenny Writing Festival is about encouraging everyone to write and...