Hugs and bugs cover trees on new Forest of Dean sculpture trail

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image copyrightForest of Dean Sculpture Trust
image captionThe Forest to Forest trail includes moss-covered arms to encourage visitors "to hug a tree"

Tree hugs, a swarm of shovel bugs and a badger shelter have been installed on a new trail in the Forest of Dean to mark the sculpture trail's 35th anniversary.

The Forest to Forest trail runs alongside an existing 4.5 mile (7km) trail at Beechenhurst Lodge, Coleford, in Gloucestershire.

It has been designed to uplift visitors after the hardship of the pandemic and help them reconnect with nature.

The trail will be in place for six months and officially opens on Monday.

The original Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail attracts 300,000 visitors a year.

It was set up in 1986 as a joint project between the Forestry Commission and Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol.

image copyrightForest of Dean Sculpture Trust
image captionAround 50 bright red insects made from garden trowels have been installed on tree trucks and scurrying along branches
image copyrightForest of Dean Sculpture Trust
image captionThe trust said it wanted to "really celebrate this wonderful and unique environment"

The new temporary trail, which features eight artists from the UK and overseas, is designed to be shorter, more accessible and family friendly.

Sculptures include 50 bright red insects made from garden trowels and a dark and white steamed willow badger.

There are also 10 moss-covered arms wrapped around trees, designed to encourage visitors to "hug a tree", and a canopy of 1,600 recycled plastic bottles, filled with coloured water to create a "serene oasis".

While 'Soil unsoiled', designed by local Forest of Dean resident and Black Lives Matter campaigner, Khady Gueye, and Bristol poet Zakiya McKenzie, is a charred and blackened wooden sculpture which has been etched with a poem exploring racial inequalities.

image copyrightForest of Dean Sculpture Trust
image captionThe trail, which will be in place for six months, will officially open to the public on Monday 19 July

The trust said that with high visitor numbers expected over the summer and many people taking staycations, it wanted to use the 35th anniversary to "really celebrate this wonderful and unique environment".

"Throughout the challenges of the pandemic over the last year, many more people have found comfort in nature," said Cathy Mager, from the trust.

"Forest to Forest has been designed to be a fun, family-friendly route, whilst Soil unsoiled offers the chance to reflect on issues that have come to the forefront of our attention in the last year."

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