All three of us has slept rather well in our little cottage, but bird song and daylight put an end to sweet dreams for me around 5:45am. Did I mind? Nah. Merlin was happy for my company downstairs as I was sipping a brew and just reading a book. It’s so nice to just chill and have the time to do just that.
Eventually, I wrapped up a bit warmer and sat very quietly in the garden with my camera watching the bird feeder, waiting for game :). Once Merlin had ventured back inside I finally got lucky and after sparrow had a look a round a Eurasian nuthatch had some breakfast. I’d never seen one before so it really felt very special and I managed to get a few shots in as well.
Had some breakfast as the sun broke through the early mist outside and drove up to Beechenhurst, probably the biggest car park in the Forest of Dean and at 10:30am already rather busy. We normally avoid those honey pots, but not having explored this area much we didn’t really know where to avoid and where not.
Leaving the hustle and bustle behind us as quickly as possible we started the Sculpture Trail, a waymarked path through the woods with 15 pieces of art work along the way. We soon left the crowds, most of them probably not fancying the 10k or so this trail spans in its entirety.
The forest here is vast with tall trees spread more widely and lots and lots of fallen branches lying around in between, the odd bit of water running here and there. Merlin’s definition of heaven. He was not hanging around, bouncing happily ahead, dashing in and out of the woods, splashing through every wet spot he could find.
I had downloaded a guide with the route and descriptions of the art installations. All of them were referring to things of importance to the Forest of Dean and the mining history of the area, yet to art-ignorants like us most of it was lost. We still really enjoyed the walk whilst Merlin was having intermittent zoomies and racing around with his newfound Jack Russell bestie Barney whenever we happened to overtake him and his owners and vice versa.
The boys were pretty knackered towards the end. Not wanting to join the swathes of people at the café on site we opted for the 15 minute drive into Coleford hoping for coffee and a snack. Turned out there was a market going on with just a few stalls, but one of them a van serving Wagyu beef and loaded chips. Got ourselves coffees whilst waiting for our two portions of loaded chips and sat at the market in the sun boshing food soon after.
Mid-afternoon on a sunny day very much sounds like cider-time so we had a quick look at Google Maps and found a micro pub withing throwing distance. Score! The Dog House was a very dog friendly and very cosy little place with wooden panels and plenty of cider and beer on tap. I had both and we just sat by the window enjoying the quiet atmosphere for once not really wanting to sit outside in the garden.
Time was marching on and before we knew it it was half four already. Drove back to the house where Rich had a shower and me and the pooch fell asleep on the sofa. Rock ‘n Roll life, ha!
Another 20 minute drive on lovely country lanes later we arrived in Woollaston at The Rising Sun pub for 6pm where I had booked us a table. What a fantastic little place. Right in the middle of nowhere yet with lots of people sitting outside in the evening sun just enjoying themselves. Great relaxed atmosphere.
Had a hearty pub meal inside with super friendly staff and quite a few scraps left for Merlin as I was not that hungry after the bigger than expected lunch.
Back home time for chilling on the sofa watch some of the snooker and feeling very relaxed after a great day out.