micbinks - UK holiday, leisure & tourist attraction images

Dean Forest Railway & Heritage Centre

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Wye Valley, Forest of Dean Holiday July 2015 - page 3

The Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is the oldest oak forest in England and consists of some 42 square miles of wonderful woodland.  We ventured deep within to the Dean Heritage Centre for an illuminating insight into this ancient forest through the ages.  And for a further dose of forest heritage during our holiday we enjoyed a scenic steam train ride on the preserved Dean Forest Railway which runs from Parkend to Lydney and the River Severn in the south of the Forest of Dean.
This is page three of three.
Wye Valley Forest of Dean 1 | Wye Valley Forest of Dean 2 | Wye Valley Forest of Dean 3

View of the Dean Heritage Centre at Soudley in the Forest of Dean
The Dean Heritage Centre is at Soudley and has some five acres of enchanting displays and demonstrations, both outside and inside.  We started our visit with a tour of...

Dean Heritage Centre: Pre-historic gallery 1
...the five museum galleries which tell the story of the Forest of Dean from the ice age to the present day.  Ah, there's Mike looking at the displays in the pre-historic gallery, hmmm .. pretty fitting really!

Dean Heritage Centre gallery 3: Industry & Society
Gallery 3 at Dean Heritage Centre, called Industry & Society, featured various crafts such as carpentry and blacksmithing plus an enlightening section on the Forest of Dean's coal mining heritage, providing a fascinating glimpse into a miner's life.  Moving on...

Power and transport - Gallery 5 Dean Heritage Centre
...to Power and Transport in Gallery 5 with various exhibits demonstrating the use of steam power from the 1800s.  To the rear in our pic is a working Beam Engine, made in the iron foundry at Camp Mill, previously on the site as the museum is now.

Trying out an interactive model at Dean Heritage Centre
Mike couldn't resist trying out the hands on model showing how a Beam Engine worked...

The Victorian school room, Dean Heritage Centre
...while Belinda couldn't resist having a go at being a schoolmistress in the Victorian school room!

Dean Heritage Centre: Inside the reconstructed Victorian Forester's cottage
No heritage museum is complete without a reconstructed dwelling and Dean Heritage Centre's offering is this Victorian Forester's cottage complete with kitchen, two bedrooms upstairs and a garden.

The power generating waterwheel at Dean Heritage Centre
Waterwheels were once used to provide mechanical power to drive Victorian machinery; this one at Dean Heritage Centre generates electricity for the museum and feeds any excess to the grid.  Nice one!

Dean Heritage Centre mill pond
The picturesque mill pond has picnic tables around; there's also a café, schools education centre and research library.  Dean Heritage Centre adult entry was £7.20 on our visit, but we used supermarket rewards vouchers.

Harvey's Folly Freemine at Dean Heritage Centre
Harvey's Folly Freemine represents a traditional Forest of Dean coal mine as dug by Freeminers but we were a little disappointed as the entrance went nowhere, the mine truck was static and there was little information here about the Freemine or miners.

Dean Heritage Centre forestry trail
The short forestry trail goes through oak and beech woods, typical of the Forest of Dean, and made a pleasant short walk.  Well, our visit to the Dean Heritage Centre was most enjoyable but...

Chainsaw carving area at Dean Heritage Centre
...unfortunately we missed the chainsaw carving demonstrations but were able to admire some of the carver's previous artistic creations at the centre.  Our tip: when visiting, check the demonstration times!

Dean Forest Railway main entrance
A steam train ride through the beautiful Royal Forest of Dean sounded appealing so we headed to Norchard, the main station of the preserved Dean Forest Railway (DFR).  The line runs from Lydney in the south up to Parkend and our 'rover' ticket (£11) allowed unlimited travel enabling us to ride the whole line.  First up though was a look around the...

Dean Forest Railway, museum entrance
...interesting looking railway museum...

View inside the museum at the Dean Forest Railway
...which was well stocked with over 1000 artefacts of railway heritage from the Severn and Wye Valley Railway, of which the DFR route was once part.

Dean Forest Railway: Norchard Station lower level
The lower level platform at Norchard Station was well decked out with historic station signs, while lined on the tracks were some fine looking vintage rail wagons.

Steam train arriving at Norchard Station on the Dean Forest Railway
Trains run on Norchard's upper level which sadly didn't have much bygone station decoration.  Here the moving steam train driver is being passed the token which allows the train to proceed on its way north...

Elevated view at Parkend on the Dean Forest Railway
...up the line to Parkend, but not before we got on of course!  We were able to observe the run-round procedure from the period footbridge over the tracks at Parkend where the locomotive is moved...

DFR: coupling up to the carriages
...to the other end and coupled up to the carriages for the return journey.  As you may expect the Dean Forest Railway steams through some splendid Forest of Dean scenery which passed by...

Inside a Dean Forest Railway carriage
...the window of the restored railway carriage while we ate our picnic lunch and listened to the steam engine chuffing away together with an occasional blast of the whistle on the way to...

Dean Forest Railway's Lydney Junction
...Lydney Junction at the southern end of the Dean Forest Railway's 4½ mile line.  The line used to run a little further to Lydney Harbour at the River Severn, the route of which can be walked...

Looking out to the River Severn at Lydney Harbour
...along the track bed, so not to pass up a view of the mighty Severn off we went!  At the Severn we were able to see the span of the dramatic Severn road bridge through the hot day's 32° heat haze before...

Dean Forest Railway run-round procedure at Lydney Junction
...returning to Lydney Junction to catch the train back to Norchard.  That's the steam engine being backed onto the carriages in our pic above.  Well, we didn't get everything in; we missed the locomotive restoration shed at the Dean Forest Railway's Norchard Station, but did see some wagons being worked on on the tracks and enjoyed a coffee in the new café there.  OK, just time then for a quick...

DFR steam locomotive's cab
...view inside the steam locomotive's cab before...

DFR: Train at Lydney Junction
...the Dean Forest Railway steam train departed Lydney Junction to take us back to Norchard.


We thought the The Dean Forest Railway and Dean Heritage Centre both worthy days out in the Forest of Dean; other attractions we visited were beautiful Symonds Yat and the the iron ore mine at Clearwell Caves.  And there's plenty others too: such as Hopewell Colliery coal mine and Littledean Jail, and for younger visitors Perrygrove Railway Treetop Adventure and Puzzlewood.  And as you might expect there's many forest trails for walking, biking and horse riding plus activities like canoeing and rock climbing.

For more on what the Royal Forest of Dean and Wye Valley has to offer see our UK tourism resources.


Not too far away is the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and Gower Heritage Center, some previous holiday visits.