We are entering a golden period in which to visit the Welsh Marches, Wye Valley and Forest of Dean because as the leaves start to turn, we are blessed over the coming weeks with spectacular displays of autumnal colours.
Upper Glyn Farm is surrounded by woods. We sit on the edge of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Beauty which stretches down and up and along the Wye Valley and into the Forest of Dean.
Go for a walk, a cycle, a run or a drive and you will be passing through woods and encountering beautiful vistas across valleys and hills. There are trees everywhere, in fact there are more than 20 million trees spread across 200 square miles covering the area and the majority are broadleaf native trees which shed their leaves in the autumn – oak, ash, birch, beech, larch, sweet chestnut, rowan and many more putting on their show as they turn from green to yellow, red and gold.
The Americans call this period “Fall” but there is a new term imported from North America which is catching the imagination of people who enjoy nature’s vibrant display. It’s called “Leaf Peeping” and this area is certainly a heaven for leaf peepers.
We are members of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism Association and they have launched an autumn campaign promoting leaf peeping in the area. They have identified ten viewing hotspots from which to enjoy this seasonal display. Here’s three of them within easy reach of our cottages. You can check out the others on http://www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/LeafPeep3
Tintern & The Devil’s Pulpit
Next to the River Wye and surrounded by a densely wooded valley, Tintern Abbey is an iconic spot for autumn colours. Stand on the railway bridge for foliage dense views in each direction along the valley or climb up to the Devil’s Pulpit where legend has it the devil himself used to lure monks away from their saintly devotions. There is a reasonable climb up to Devil’s Pulpit which is on Offa’s Dyke on the English side of the river, but you will be rewarded by fantastic views.
There a car park on the road between Chepstow and Tintern which is at the bottom of the 365 steps up to Eagles Nest. It’s a good climb but there is an alternative zig-zag route if you prefer an easier ascent. Cross the road and head up. Then at a clearing it’s right for the steeper climb and left for the gentler option. Great views on the way up and from the Eagle’s Nest, you’ll be rewarded with views that span over the Wye out to the River Severn and the Cotswold Hills beyond.
This viewpoint overlooks steep limestone cliffs near Woodcroft on the English side of the River Wye. The cliffs are popular with climbers. It is on the edge of the Lancaut Nature Reserve which is home to over 350 plant species including small leaved lime and wayfaring trees amongst beech, oak, ash and cherry that provide a carnival of colour during autumn.
If you want more details about where to go or if you would like a guided walk by your host John Brooks, please ask.
The tourism association has also created a Leaf Peeping Drive through the region which is a total of 50 miles. They are pretty sure it is the first of its kind in the UK! We’ll print a copy for each cottage or check it out on http://www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/LeafPeep4
Autumn colours in the Wye valley: Photograph by David Broadbent
Eagle’s Nest. Photograph by Gemma Wood
Bigsweir Bridge across the River Wye