Birthday bonanza, part 2…

It’s March and spring has arrived so it’s time for birthday trip number two, in celebration of my birthday. The Forest of Dean is a regular favourite of ours, there is lots to do and see and we are in the woods! We also are heading across the Severn Estuary to the countryside around Stroud as it’s a lovely part of the UK.

After a lie in and a later start we eventually arrive at the campsite, our home for the remainder of the day and overnight. We thought we would try another Camping in the Forest site, this time Bracelands in the Forest of Dean. It’s a huge site and one we wouldn’t normally pick but it’s empty, so we are happy to live it up in relative luxury! We get a great pitch and after a bit of manoeuvring we get level, set up and settle down for a tea and some chocolate Birthday cake.

Tilly hoping for a stray crumb.

It’s a lovely sunny day and we all make the most of sitting outside, Tilly and Belle are happiest lying outside in the sun having a snooze while we have a read and plan the next day or so. Walkies time so we head off across the site and using the fabulous ViewRanger app I have on my phone we patch together a walk route through the adjacent forest and head off for a couple of hours of ‘forest bathing’. Back to Hank and its food time for the girls, food time for us and then a birthday game of Scrabble were once again I’m beaten convincingly by Claire, Happy Birthday indeed!

Forest bathing.

The day dawns with the promise of more sunny weather so we carry out the usual morning essentials, dog feeding, our breakfast time, showering and off for another forest walk. The call of the road calls so we pack up Hank and head off for the day and our next stop, one of our favourites the Nagshead RSPB nature reserve, near Parkend in the Forest of Dean. We have visited this place for many years and it’s just one of those walks that is just a joy to follow, there’s always something to see, whatever season you choose. Tilly and Belle are happy houndies exploring the woods, sniffing, and chasing and generally experiencing doggy wonderment all around!!

Nagshead RSPB reserve.
The Hymertrails gang.

The birthday goddess is happily shining on us during this walk as we come across our first live sighting of wild boar, we’ve visited the area for years and seen plenty of evidence of boar but never seen them first hand. We are treated to two parents and at least a dozen or so babies trotting merrily across the forest track just ahead of us. Tilly and Belle are thankfully back on their leads and are preoccupied with a group of noisy squirrels next to us, so they completely miss the boar anyway. Smiles all around, it’s just a joy to see wild animals, we head back to Hank for a spot of lunch, tea and cake and then head off to our next destination, our pitch for the night.

Ham farm.

Ham farm CL site looks like a great spot so we’ve booked two nights here. We find it easily nestled in beautiful countryside below the Cotswold escarpment in Gloucestershire. We’ve bagged the last pitch, there are only five anyway, so we get set up and head off for a quick explore of the local lanes and the obligatory early evening dog walk. Food time all round and then a relaxing end to a great day.

Coaley Hill.

It’s a glorious morning so after the usual procedures we head off up Coaley Hill, it’s a short drive from the site and there are mazing views out across the Severn valley. The good weather has brought out the local population of both dog walkers and families playing games and just generally enjoying the unseasonal good weather. We tackle a short section of the Cotswold Way along the escarpment from Coaley, it is a lovely route but unfortunately, we are stopped dead by a particularly inaccessible stile, Tilly and Belle don’t do stiles! Back to Hank we go for a spot of lunch and a relaxing read.

Belle having a sniff!

Our final stop for the day is near Stroud, Rodborough common. It’s a lovely drive through some stunning countryside, surprisingly hilly for old Hank who takes in his stride, albeit a little slowly! It’s a lovely place and Tilly and Belle are in full-on explorer mode along with every other dog in a 10mile radius. On the way back to Ham farm we spot a handful of potential wild camping spots, we’ll be returning to explore. Back at the CL we all have food; a late evening dog walk before relaxing in for the night and feeling a little sad as we are going home tomorrow.

Last stop of the day above Stroud.
Rodborough Common.

Sunday dawns so it’s time for the off, the M4 motorway beckons but one last stop and a pleasant late afternoon stroll around Tredegar Park, Newport breaks the journey before setting off on the final leg back west…

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