Gloucester and the Forest of Dean
Cannop Ponds Drybrook Road Station – Gloucester Way Round
(First half of our walk is suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs.)
Gloucester in Gloucestershire is a lovely historic city with some of the best examples of historic buildings in England. There are many museums such as the Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery, Gloucester Folk Museum, Soldiers of Gloucester Museum, Nature in Art Museum and the Waterways Museum. Then there’s the Blackfriars Priory, St. Michael’s Tower, Gloucester Docks, Gloucester Quays, The Oliver Cromwell Paddle Wheeler and then there’s Gloucester Cathedral one of the finest Cathedrals in England and one of the most beautiful in the world. This Norman Cathedral is 900 years old and is the centre point of the city with its tower rising high into the sky. At Gloucester Waterfront there are two main attractions the Historic Gloucester Docks and the Gloucester Quays. The Docks with its Victorian Warehouses and museums is the UK’s most inland port and there is a guided tour of the area. The Quays with its designer outlet, antiques centre and restaurant is the newest addition to the waterfront. From the waterfront there are 45 minute boat trips on the Canal and various special trips, including sunset, blues and Santa’s Grotto there is also holiday cruises on the River Severn.
Parkend is a very quaint village situated at the foot of the Cannop Valley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. In the 17th century Parkend was an industrial village with many coal mines, an Ironworks, stone works, wood yard and a tinplate works. Industry declined in the late 19th century due to a loss of markets. The village now has two attractions Parkend railway station and RSPB Nagshead nature reserve. The Severn and Wye Railway Company began operating mineral trains through the village in1864 but the station wasn’t built until 1875 to run passenger services. The station closed its passenger services in 1929 and the last goods train left Parkend in 1975 and much of the track was dismantled. The line was bought by the Dean Forest Railway and re-opened in May 2006. The Nagshead nature reserve on the edge of the village is open all year and entry is free. There is a large car park, visitors centre and toilets (only open between 10am and 5pm at weekends during the summer), two viewing hides, picnic area, two way marked walks and information boards. There are two pubs The Fountain Inn and Lodge and The Woodman Inn both have accommodation also there is a hostel, two guest houses, several holiday lets, and the Whitemead Forest Park camping and caravan park.
The Forest of Dean is the most beautiful and wonderful place with lots of heritage and activities to suit everybody of all ages and disabilities. In 1938 it became Britain’s first National Forest Park and is England’s largest oak forest. Watch out for the Wild Boar living in the forest, they are mainly secretive and nocturnal and are unlikely to attack people. If you see any just keep your distance, do not feed them and please keep your dog under close control as a number of dogs have been seriously injured by them. They can be particularly aggressive when they have their young in the spring. There are plenty of walking and cycling routes plus and if you feel like doing something more energetic there is raft building, abseiling, paintballing, clay shooting, canoeing and high wire assault courses etc. If you would like to holiday here there is lots of accommodation from hotels to camping.
Cannop Ponds is a fantastic picnic area there is a large grassed area with picnic tables and a car park. The ponds are beautiful with lots of wildlife such as mandarin ducks, geese, moorhens, cutes, herons and much more. The top pond is a wildlife trust nature reserve and the two lower ponds are fished.
We park in the lay-by near the stone works on the B4234 at the side of Cannop Ponds and take the footpath with a sign “Gloucester Way public footpath” which takes us to the end of the ponds. We walk across the end of the pond and the first path on the left along the edge of the pond is only suitable for wheelchair users for a short way for fishing. We take the old railway bed footpath which is suitable for wheelchair users. We follow the railway path only dropping down to the lower path to take a good look at the wildlife on the pond and we find, as you will see in our video, a lot of colourful ducks which are male Mandarin ducks and the grey duller ones are the females. We make our way back to the railway path and come to a picnic area and here we take a look over the little footbridge to see more wildlife as you again will see in our video then back to the picnic area and keep following the railway path. We stop to watch the birds at a bird feeding station then carry on straight ahead until we come to a path going off to the right which takes us to the road. We cross over the road and carry on until we come to a y-junction where we take the right path (the left one takes you to the Cannop Cycle Centre) and carry on straight ahead until we come to a barrier at White Gates we take the path straight ahead still on the railway path. We pass a sculpture of part of a railway track with carvings on it then go through an archway we keep heading forward on the railway path until we come to a cross roads at Drybrook Road Station. The path straight ahead leads to Cinderford but we turn right and go through a barrier and then take the first track on the right. After a short way we turn left off the track at a sign with an arrow and a circle with Gloucester Way on it. We now follow the markers through the trees, walking forward, along the Gloucester Way until we come to a main road and car park / picnic area. Here we turn right until we come to a monument and the Speech House Hotel on the opposite side of the road. We cross the road and the small road by the side of the hotel and take the Gloucester Way on the right. We go forward then left then right then over a stile and we now just follow the markers back to Cannop Ponds.
This is a nice easy walk. The first half of the walk along the dismantled railway line to Drybrook Road Station is suitable for wheelchair users. The Gloucester Way is not suitable for wheelchair users.
This walk is approx 8 miles using OS map OL14.
Cannop Ponds near Parkend in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
Cannop Ponds is situated on the B4234 between Lydbrook and Lydney.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets at the RSPB Nagshead Nature Reserve, only open at weekends during the summer, and the next nearest one is at Lydbrook. For refreshments there are pubs and cafes in Gloucester, Lydbrook and Cinderford and in Parkend there are two pubs.