Of course some would say that I am biased as I live here. Oh and I just happen to work here as a Freelance Outdoor Instructor and for arguably the UK's largest Outdoor Activity holiday provider who set up here 60 years ago. But, I am not local (sssshh don't tell anyone, I am actually a city girl born and bred....). So, why did we move here 7 years ago? And why did I decide 18 months ago to re-train as an Outdoor Instructor? THIS is why.....
The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean are magical, just head to the ethereal Puzzlewood to discover this. But there is something about this place that catches your imagination, that pulls you in. Perhaps it is the River Wye itself as it meanders its course from North to South creating valleys and rocky escarpments.
The River Wye is well known as being one of the few rivers in the UK to have free access for over half its length from Hay on Wye to Chepstow making it incredibly popular for canoeing. There are a plethora of companies who offer excellent canoe hire, but for me having a guide to take you makes the journey not only safer but also much more fun.
Inspire2Adventure run guided trips of the River Wye, along with a wide range of activities including Gorge Scrambling, Rock Climbing, High Ropes courses and much more. Again, I guess I am biased in recommending Paul and Inspire2Adventure as he is the man responsible for training me in canoeing! But trust me, if you have a hen weekend, stag do, party or just want a great day out then you can't go far wrong with them.
If however you want to go solo and hire your own canoes for a half day, or even a full day's paddle then another option is Wye Canoes who are based at Ye Olde Ferrie Inn, Symonds Yat West. They also do Stand up Paddleboarding which is just brilliant, and you cannot find a more beautiful location (Alpkit the UK based Outdoor Kit designers and manufacturers just used it for their latest advertising campaign!). Check out SUPYOFI for more information on getting out on the Wye on a SUP.
Ok, so who didn't love climbing trees when they were a kid? Even me, the city girl, adored heading down to Redland Green and climbing up high to watch the world go by.
At Forest of Dean Adventure not only do you get to climb the trees but you get to swing from them, grapple with giant balls and zip wire upside down from them. You get a 2 hour experience and up to 4 activites including crate stacking, leap of faith (trapeze), high balls and then the infamous Zip Wire.
If that is a little bit out of your comfort zone head over to Beechenhurst Lodge and have a go on our giant, 4-sided outdoor climbing wall. And if you are still up for more then you can have a go at releasing your inner Katniss or Robin Hood with the Archery. And do you know the best part of spending a day with Forest of Dean Adventure is that you may have the delight of spending it with me!
Next up on the bucket list of things to do is to go Mountain Biking. Head to Pedal a Bike Away where you can hire bikes, or bring your own and head out on to a wide range of trails from the idyllic Family Trail which takes in parts of the beautiful Sculpture Trail, or if you are feeling more adventurous there are the more technically challenging routes and skills trails. There really is something for everyone, even a great cafe which serves the most amazing Boar Burger (locally caught Wild Boar of course!).
Climbing and the Wye Valley go hand in hand. The rocks lend themselves perfectly and there is something for everyone whatever your level. From the beginners Introductory Rocks to the more challenging Wyndcliff Quarry. Inspire2Adventure do rock climbing sessions, or if you would like some more focused 1:1 then Tony Penning has been climbing for over 20 years and holds the Mountain Instructor Award (MIA).
So, you have been on the rocks, next up is to go inside the rocks. Caving is fast becoming an extremely popular activity in the Wye Valley.
If you want to experience an exciting, real caving activity, Clearwell Caves Deep Level visits offers physical challenge combined with spectacular mine workings and a fascinating history. Deep Level trips can be for adventure, education or both; the trips create a real sense of achievement and build self esteem.
Plus all this:
Where to stay and what to eat.....
I make no bones about being biased in this, but then blogs are purely the view of the writer so I shall continue.
I live in Ross on Wye, which to me is perfectly located within the Wye Valley to be a Centre For The Outdoors, the Kendal of the Wye Valley! It is a truly beautiful town, the only town in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Beauty and the birth place of Tourism.
We have excellent access direct on to the River Wye, we are a short hop, skip & jump from Symonds Yat and its canoeing, SUP, climbing and caving and access to the Forest of Dean is superb.
Not only that but Ross on Wye is fast becoming a place well known for its excellent food, in particular the restautant and cocktail bar No.3. This place is so popular you have to book a weekend table booking WEEKS in advance. It is just outstanding.
Other great places to eat are Avellinos, The Kings Head, The Royal, Yaks & Yetis (Mongolian), Lemon Thai (tiny but a-mazing).
Places to stay in Ross in include The Kings Head and The Royal for those of you who like a bigger hotel, experience, but other lovely places to stay in Ross are Radcliffe House, The Bridge House and The White House.
All in all the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean should be on everyone's Adventure Bucket List. With excellent access from the major cities, we are best placed for a weekend, or longer, of adrenalin and adventure. So, make sure its on your list of things to do in 2017!