This UK Destination Is A Great Spot For Viewing Fall Foliage

Tucked beneath the foliage and rocky outcrops of Wye Valley in Wales, the Forest of Dean is one of Britain's most captivating regions. The enchanted forest mimics the settings set in the fabled Old English classics such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain. The Forest of Dean is an ancient relic whose wooded grounds have been molded over the centuries to fit the needs of its inhabitants. It was a predatory hunting ground for medieval hunters during the rule of Norman kings. Later, when the coal mining industry took off in the Victorian period, its underground caverns were scavenged for wealth. 

Britain's beautiful forest has captured the attention of film producers for decades, leading studios to showcase the forested grounds in acclaimed films, including Harry Potter and Star Wars. A near replica of the wooded realms featured in Game of Thrones, the forest is a fortress of ash and holly trees anchored in the wilderness for centuries. Trail through the ancient forest along a serpentine of pathways flanked by moss-covered railings and jutted roots. In autumn, the emerald cloak covering the ancient oaks fades into a blanket of brightly dappled leaves splayed over the forest floor. Small villages, including Cinderford and Coleford, pepper the outskirts of the forest and offer a respite from the woods.

50 miles of leaf peeping hot spots

Bundle up with a flannel and a cup of steaming apple cider during the 50-mile drive through the autumn countryside of Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. This leaf-peeping voyage twists and turns to reveal several lookout points over the vermillion foliage. Symonds Yat Rock is a vantage point perched above Wye Valley with sweeping views of the River Wye and Wales peppered with fall hues. This ancient relic is located near Coleford, 30 minutes out from Gloucestershire. The limestone outcrop was rumored to be the site of an old hill fort and is a popular lookout to watch diving peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks. 

Perhaps the most magical part of the Forest of Dean, Puzzlewood is a 14-acre enchanted forest in Gloucestershire. The heart of the woods are dappled with lush vegetation in the summer but transform into a stunning fall utopia, toned with browns and yellows. Puzzlewood's tumbling landscape of ancient oaks, overgrown bridges and dense thickets inspired the creators of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Watch your footing when exploring the forest grounds, as Puzzlewood is also home to the Big Four — a quartet of exotic species, including crocodiles, alligators, elephants, and rhinos.

Wye Valley Walk

Unveil your inner wayfarer on the 136-mile Wye Valley Walk that snakes through the Forest of Dean and mid Wales. The trail has three access points at Rhyd-y-benwch, Hafren Forest, or Chepstow Castle. If beginning the trek from the Rhyd-y-benwch parking area, the bus stop at Llangurig offers an easy way to access the trailhead from this starting point.

The footpaths weave through the uplands of Wales and open countryside dotted with sheep and shetlands before retreating into the forest. Peep through the thickets, and you might glimpse the cider apple orchards before the trail opens to the commonlands. Most of the trail traces stable, even ground. However, wet months can cause sections of the path to become slippery.

Given the region's long, rich heritage, walking the Wye Valley consists of a few other spectacular sights — aside from the serenity of this wilderness oasis. Set atop the countryside in Wales, Goodrich Castle is a medieval English military base dating back to the Norman Conquest. The sandstone stronghold symbolizes victory in English history, having been torn down during sieges by the French but eventually restored by Parliamentarians.

The Ruins of the Tintern Abbey are yet another magnificent feat of British architecture situated along the Wye River banks. Having survived the destruction of monasteries under the rule of King Henry VIII, the Tintern remains an ecclesiastical monument. Even English poets Wordworth and Coleridge were stunned by the Tintern's magnificence, inspiring the famous "Tintern Abbey" poem by William Wordsworth.