Last month saw a return trip to the Forest of Dean for me and mum, along with auntie C, uncle J and cousins Nelly (yay), Arthur (yay) and Arry (two out of three ain’t bad).
This time, instead of us all sharing a Forest Holidays cabin, we opted to visit Deanwood Holidays – me and mum had our own cottage, while the others had their separate living space too.
It was the first time that mum and I had stayed at Deanwood and what a find it was!
Not only was it considerably cheaper than a week with Forest Holidays (case in point – my seven night stay at Deanwood cost mum an extra £25, rather than £70 with FH), but it was literally just a few feet away from the forest itself. A walk across the communal field, through the gate and – bingo! – you’re there.
We stayed in Magpie Cottage, which had everything you’d need for a comfortable stay – including a ‘dog box’ containing a clean towel, tray for feeding bowls and plentiful poo bags.
Piping hot water, central heating that made everything toasty within minutes and a good standard of cleanliness met with mum’s approval too.
It would be fair to say the decor and furnishings are a little dated and ‘mix and match’ – but the bed and settee were comfortable, and the kitchen had everything you’d need.
And besides, the price reflects that you’re not going to get cutting edge interior design with high end this-that-and-the-other.
There is also a guest freezer in the laundry room (ideal for my meaty meat) and a free washing machine and tumble drier – you just provide your own washing powder. Now, it might be a bit sad to get excited about this but it meant the humans could wear clean clothes every day, rather than making muddy walking kit last all week.
Auntie C was the Queen of Clean and dutifully washed everyone’s stuff pretty much every day.
I was less than thrilled by the hose in the yard for washing dogs, but it meant we could all get as muddy as we liked on our walks without the hassle of trying to get us clean with nothing more than a bucket and sponge (hello, Forest Holidays). A quick towel off and, et voila, clean dogs able to go into the cottage without giving the humans a nervous breakdown.
There is only one cottage with its own garden – the one that auntie C and uncle J stayed in – but you really don’t miss it. There is a lovely big field to exercise your dogs (on lead), and as I said – you are just a few feet from the forest anyway.
We did some fab walks, even though the weather was a bit, er, changeable.
We climbed a mountain too! Albeit not a particularly high one – the Sugar Loaf. The summit at 596 metres offers glorious views across south Wales, the Brecon Beacons and south west England.
Shame we couldn’t see any of them as the weather was so grim…
No matter, the next day we braved the rain and did another long walk from Yorkley through the forest and even saw a Red Kite soaring above us. What a treat!
We also took a hike out to Mallards Pike Lake, and had a very pleasant stroll around this Forestry Commission location. The only thing missing was stones – I kept barking at mum as I expected her to pick up stones and throw them into the water for me!
Our final walk was another very wet one, taking around three hours. We crossed a train line (we missed seeing a steam train by just a few minutes, boo) and got a bit lost in a bit of the forest that clearly doesn’t see that many walkers. All added to the fun though as we ‘off-roaded’ climbing over and under fallen trees.
Also worth a visit is Taurus Crafts in Lydney, where you can enjoy a pleasant hour or two strolling around and relieving yourself of cash. Mum’s favourite place here is Cat’s Eye Carving, where you can spend anything from a few pounds on a stone carved letter, to four figures on the most amazing sculptures by the very talented Carrie Horwood.
By day six the weather had got a bit relentless so we actually came home a day early rather than get soaked on another walk – but we had a fab holiday.
In fact, mum and me enjoyed it so much we’re heading there again next month with Pam and her dog Kai for a few nights, and again in January for a week. Can’t wait!
There is also a campsite available too, and with mum harbouring the seed of an idea to buy a camper van – who knows, we might be staying there at some point in the future!
We were not asked to review Deanwood Holidays and paid full price for our seven night stay in Magpie Cottage. All opinions expressed are genuine and not influenced in any way by any external party.