Deep in the land of myths and legends lies a magical woods, waiting to explored by the unexpected travellers that stumble upon the enchantment that waits before them.
For centuries, the Forest of the Dean and Wye Valley has collected stories and fables that are shrouded in mystery and wizardry. Within castles, hamlets, villages and towns, friendly residents live together in harmonious bliss, welcoming the intrepid travellers to explore the region’s history and heritage, art and culture, food and drink and adventure journeys.
But there’s one special story that waits to be explored. A piece of magic that still exists in this smaller world within one of the only surviving ancient woodlands in the UK stretching from Monmouthshire in Wales to West Gloucestershire in England.
This is Puzzlewood.
This real land of make-believe is a gateway to anything you can imagine. There’s a child’s imagination in all of us and Puzzlewood can make your dreams a reality. Whether it’s the far away worlds of intergalactic heroes and villains, eccentric Time Lords, magicians and warriors, Puzzlewood can reveal these to you to your heart’s desire.
All you have to do is to wander through the ancient paths – trodden by legends, twisted roots and mossy rocks and there, your imagination becomes a reality… or does it?
Only you can decide and start your fairytale adventure in the magical woods where stories sprang onto moving pictures that are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Merlin, Doctor Who, Atlantis, Da Vinci Demons, Tree Fu Tom and Wizards Vs Aliens.
I began mine one bright Sunday afternoon, unsuspecting, as I ducked under the gnarled ancient tree that hung over the entrance. There’s only one way in into the maze of pathways, winding through the mile long route in this 14 acre woodland.
it was almost like I stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia. There was a tingle in the air. Could it be magic?
My eyes widened as I became enchanted with the Magical Woods. Now I knew what JRR Tolkien was talking about as he reputed have taken his inspiration for Middle Earth from here. If this could happen to him, would this also do this for me? Create a world in my mind where strange and beguiling creatures could exist?
It’s easy to see why. Check out these pictures below.
Expecting trolls hiding within the rocks, I was intrigued by the ancient rock formations. Could they be messages from a forgotten race? Soon, I was riveted by the secret caves that sprang open at the corner of your eye. Could giants be waiting to grab me as I pass? I hurried along. Ancient trees sang through its budding leaves, willing me to be entranced in a stupor. Pathways forked and turned leaving me puzzled in this magical wood.
Would there be help from a dashing hero, swinging his singing sword, sat upon a white steed?
But there was treasure to be found. Oh, ho ho! Could it be a sword in the stone or relics from a previous civilisation? I hear there’s hoards of Roman coins worth their weight in gold. But there’s forgotten as they disappeared from history only to be shrouded yet again in the mysteries of Puzzlewood.
I sprang with a spring in my step down a path, following my nose like Hansel and Gretel, to a the scents of warm and delicious food that were slowly enticing me in.
Revealing a cottage, there stood outside, minions from The Forest of the Dean Hog Roast Company, waiting for us with big beaming smiles! I ambled closer, still following my nose. But I remembered the story of the poisoned apple with Snow White. Could something so tempting be lethal?
I didn’t care. It smelt that good and no way it was evil.
I was right. Stuffing into not one, not two, but three hog roast sandwiches, I groaned deeply with contentment, splayed on the bench, still smacking my lips. I could be so content right now.
But I awoke from my blissful ignorance with a start when I heard:
‘How do we get out of the Magical Woods?’
Hmmm, that was a good question.
Could this be Neverland, never to return to the outside world?
Soon, I spied a twinkling fairy silhouetted against the backdrop of the woods. Is she telling me to stay?
No, she came to us to guide us. Telling us a simple secret that we simply had to clap our hands in joy. But we were told never to tell you.
Minutes later, we stumbled out of the magical woods, realising that time has flown by with the sun now at the other end of the sky.
I rubbed my eyes and yawned.
Did we really come from a dream world? Were the figures at the corner of my eye real? Did I imagine the whole thing.
But only two words came from my mouth:
Do you? You better find out…
If you want to find out more about Puzzlewood:
If you ever fancy a Hog Roast in your belly, check them out:
Do you need to know more about Forest of the Dean and Wye Valley? Why not check out my other posts too!
Overcoming my biggest fear in Forest of the Dean
The best pub restaurant food and drink in Forest of the Dean
I just want to say a huge big thank you to Puzzlewood and the Forest of the Dean Hog Roast Company for giving me the a magical experience and for being your awesome selves!
Can’t wait until the next instalment of my Forest of the Dean/Wye adventures in the UK? Why not follow this hashtag – #DeanWyeBloggers on any social media channel and discover what we actually got up.
This article has been produced as part of a blogging series in partnership with the DeanWye Tourism Board.