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17 September 2014
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Forest of Dean and Symonds Yat

Royal forest

Symonds Yat

The ancient Forest of Dean is one of the few remaining Royal forests in England.

It was created by the Normans as a hunting forest to provide food for the king's winter court at Gloucester.


Symonds' Yat - stunning views across the woodland and the River Wye

On the edge of the Forest of Dean lies Symonds Yat, one of the most stunning and famous views in England.

This area is 500 feet above sea level and borders three counties - Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire in Wales.

Nesting birds

Peregrine FalconSymonds Yat is a good place for bird watching - the crevices in the rock faces are ideal for nesting birds including a pair of Peregrines who have been resident for six years.

The nest is quite far away on the limestone cliffs but the RSPB do have telescopes so that visitors can get a bird's eye view.

The Peregrine Falcon is a spectacular bird, distinguished by its dark blue-greyish plumage and pale underbelly.

It's best spotted in flight, soaring on high - look out for its distinctive pointed wings.

If you're lucky, you may see this super-fast bird swooping down on its prey.

Deer watching

Muntjac Deer c/o English Nature and Paul Glendell The forest is an excellent place to see deer including the Fallow, Roe and Muntjac varieties.

There are 600 Fallow Deer in the forest, and early in the morning or dusk is a good time to see them when they come out into forest clearings to feed.

Spring is one of best seasons to spot the deer as they are keen to munch on the new growth of grass.

There are also Muntjac Deer and few Roe, but in much smaller numbers.

Fallow is the main one which you'll see.

In the spring you might come across deer by chance - look out for something twitching in the undergrowth.

Fallow Deer flick their ears and tails to get rid of the flies that plague them when it gets warm.

These deer are distinguished by their white rumps with a black 'm' outline, the tail providing the middle stem.

Badgers and Boars

BadgerAnother woodland resident is the Badger - look for tell tale signs such as setts with huge entrances.

These creatures have a superb sense of smell but pretty poor eyesight.

A larger animal that also lives in these parts is the Wild Boar, an animal that we've been able to see again in the wild only recently.

They became extinct more than 300 years ago due to hunting, and it's thought that the Forest of Dean was one of the last places where they remained before dying out.

Recently, some have escaped from Wild Boar farms and are living in the forest fending for themselves.

There are only about five breeding populations of Wild Boar in the UK, all in the south of England.

The Forest of Dean is one of the best places to find them: there are believed to be at least a couple of herds, and one is third generation.

Contrary to their fierce reputation Wild Boar will avoid human contact whenever possible.

Photo credits

Muntjac Deer courtesy and copyright of English Nature and Paul Glendell.



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