Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley
I haven't always lived and worked in the Forest of Dean and The Wye Valley, but it is a place I have grown to love. It is is quite simply a beautiful area at any time of the year but especially so in my two favourite seasons - spring and autumn.
In early spring we see the trees tinged with green as they begin to shake off the austerity of winter. As the spring progresses the forest floor is covered with a blue misty haze as the bluebells come into bloom. In autumn the trees put on a last hurrah before winter arrives, as the leaves turn from green, to gold to orange and to deepest red – a riot of colour – it is stunning.
In the forest, animals abound - literally! We have fallow deer, some red deer and muntjacs. Wild boar can also be seen, the piglets are particularly cute, they are striped much like mint humbugs! We also see foxes, badgers and, not quite so shy as these animals, we see sheep wandering the roads - all part of an ancient Forest law to allow free roaming of sheep. These animal hazards can make driving interesting to say the least! I nearly forgot - there are also kingfishers, owls, bats, dippers, mandarin ducks that nest in trees and (my favourite sighting whilst out walking) crossbills!
The area also boasts two rivers - the River Severn with its tidal bore, where you can see surfers riding the waves which can get up to heights of 7.5 metres, and the River Wye. I drive past the Wye every day on my way to work, and although I have driven along its banks many, many times, it never fails to lift my spirits.
The River Wye is a river you can get close to, even more so in Tintern where the river is tidal and at exceptionally high tides it will first flood the fields opposite Stella and Rose's Books and then continue to rise until it floods the road and the traffic has to be stopped. Last time the waters came out to play the Environment Agency were having to rescue trout that had come up on the tide and were in danger of being stranded on the road! On the high tide we also see otters and seals from time to time.
While a fabulous area for ornithologists and naturalists, the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley is also a superb area for those who want to canoe, kayak, fish and wild swim.
Conversely we must remember that it was not always like this and we must remember our industrial heritage. Dating back to Roman times, this was once a place of mining, coal and iron ore. In Tintern can be seen the remains of the 16th century wireworks, which for three centuries produced thousands of tons of wire and employed hundreds of wireworkers.
It is such an interesting place to live and work that I can't possibly do it justice in such a short article. Why not visit us at Stella and Rose’s Books and browse our selection of books on the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley to find out more.
Contributed by Theresa