Festival bids to blaze a trail

By Mark Elson in Local People

PUT your best foot forward and step out on a new week-long walking festival this Spring.

You can take your pick from 25 trails during the Coleford Area Walking Festival from May 15-21, from a gentle one-mile stroll to a strenuous 11-mile ramble around the Wye Valley.

Alongside the beautiful scenery, walks also take in the area’s flora and fauna, industrial heritage and history, a secret forest, photography and geocaching, while dogs are also catered for.

The event kicks off on Monday, May 15, with an eight-mile ‘Lydbrook Loop’ to see some industrial treasures, or a one-mile ‘Mallards Pike Meander’.

Tuesday sees a 7.5-mile ‘Soudley Stride’, hopefully through bluebells; a St Briavels health walk around the village; and a Coleford town walk.

On Wednesday there is a strenuous eight-mile ‘Redbrook Ramble’; a gentle Coleford health walk; or a 5.5-mile ‘Gorsty Gambol’ that also takes in Birchill, Broadwell, Nagshead and Ellwood. 

Thursday has a six-mile ‘Doggy Trail’ following the Redbrook to Newland circular loop; a Bream village 5.2-mile saunter; a two-mile English Bicknor heritage walk taking in the limekilns; and a nightlife walk in the company of a tame barn owl at Forest Retreat in Christchurch.

The next day brings the choice of a Bream health walk; an eight-mile St Briavels and Hewelsfield circular walk starting from St Briavels castle; and a 2.25-mile ‘Bimble with the Birds’ nature walk at the Nagshead Nature Reserve. 

Become Family Creative Detectives on an easy jaunt following the route of the Sculpture Trail on Saturday, starting at Beechenhurst Lodge; explore Edge End on an eight-mile walk; quench your thirst on a ‘Real Ale Trail’ starting at The Dog House, Coleford; stroll through Coleford’s industrial heritage, and discover the stories of the Teagues and the Mushets; or take a ‘Wild Flower Ramble’ through the meadows and woodland of the Angus Buchanan recreation ground trust in a one-mile walk.

Sunday has geocaching starting at Kaplans Café in Coleford; a hard ‘Highmeadow Hike’ over 11 miles starting near the Forest Retreat, taking in the Biblins Bridge and the hand pull ferry at Symonds Yat; the chance to photograph the scowle iron workings and gnarled ancient trees of the ‘Secret Forest’ opposite Clearwell Caves; a ‘Hidden Heritage Hike’ around the Cannop Valley’; and a three-mile walk exploring the Staunton Stones.

A spokesman for the walking festival said: “We are really grateful to the many organisations that have come on board to work with us in getting this first event off the ground. 

“They include both of the main funders – Coleford Town Council and the Coleford Area Partnership – plus the Forest Holidays Forest of Dean Rangers, Walking for Health, the RSPB, the Barnwood Trust, the Dean Forest and Wye Valley tour guides, the Angus Buchanan Trust, the Forestry Commission, and many individuals who have kindly agreed to lead walks for us. 

“It is hoped to make this an annual addition to Coleford’s ever growing events calendar if the event this year is a success.”

Full details of the walk are at www.colefordareawalkingfestival.co.uk or from the Tourist Information Centre at 4, Lords Hill, Coleford.

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