Out in the depths of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England is a magical and enchanting woodland that has graced the silver screen and our living room televisions time and time again.
I am of course talking about Puzzlewood, which is a kaleidoscope of thick gnarled branches, emerald moss-strewn grass and interesting wooden twists and turns overhead. It offers so much mystique and magic in its surroundings that it’s no wonder film and TV producers have used it for the likes of Dr Who, Merlin, Jack the Giant Slayer and of course, most famous of all – Star Wars.
Once inside this incredible woodland yourself, I can assure you that you will be in awe of your surroundings. And you will quite possibly become a little lost in an enchanting landscape that you thought only possible within fantasy novels…
The Twists & Turns of Puzzlewood
Puzzlewood is such a remarkable 14 acre ancient woodland, with its mazes of pathways and twists and turns at every corner among the sweeping trees and branches.
There is no right or wrong way to walk through this wood, no right or wrong turning. Just maze upon maze; twist upon twist and turn upon turn of marvellous woodland to keep you second-guessing and meandering through it for a couple of hours at least.
Climb those ancient stone steps, duck under those low-hanging twisting branches and balance on the wooden stepping stones. Just enjoy it… and ensure you admire your surroundings as you meander and stumble through these impressive and unique woods.
The Quirky Benches of Puzzlewood
It’s not only the natural surroundings you will have to keep on the lookout for. There are also several gnarled, twisted and unique benches dotted around the woods.
So remarkably well built are these benches, that they just fit into their surroundings with ease and you completely forget that they’re actually man-made.
Keep an eye out for these benches – some will be along the side of swamp areas, others will be hidden beneath overhanging branches and some, you will need to cross rickety old bridges to get to.
The Art of Getting Lost in Puzzlewood
Whether you are roaming this woodland alone, with friends or your other half; don’t try to take note of where you’re going or where you should be going. The sheer art of this wood is in getting lost in it.
For me and my boyfriend, we were so engrossed in our conversation and in the magical landscape of this entire place, that we didn’t think too much about where we were going. Instead, we just let our feet do the deciding… and we very quickly became lost.
Little did we know that at one point, we had completed a full circle of this wood. We were halfway through covering the same paths that we’d already stumbled through before we realised we’d already come this way. I cannot tell you just how surreal that feeling is… to have walked for over 15 minutes along the same path you walked along only an hour earlier and for you not to realise.
What we also found quite humorous at the time was that we’d passed a mature couple 4 or 5 times during this as well. They were quite clearly as lost as were as we heard glimpses of their conversation: “Where are we?”, “No, we’ve already come this way…”, “Have we?” We felt the same way they did… and then we had the sudden dawning moments of thinking: “Little do we know that they’ve been walking these woods since they were our age. That’s our future right there.” This was of course a bit of a mild overreaction, but it kept us in fits of giggles as we kept stumbling and getting lost for a bit longer.
That is the power and magic that Puzzlewood has in abundance…
The Knowhow Behind the Intriguing Puzzlewood
So, now I’ve caught your attention about all the reasons why you should come and get lost in Puzzlewood; this is all the knowhow you need for finding this place and making the most of your day out.
Admission Prices: £6.50 for adults, £5.50 for children aged 3-16 and children under 2 go free.
Opening Hours: Throughout the summer months, the woods are open daily between 10am – 5pm. However, other months only offer entry on Wednesdays and weekends; and last entry is at the slightly earlier time of 3.30pm. Please also note that the woods are completely closed during January and in severe weather conditions or with winds of over 25 mph. For the full guide on opening hours depending on when you’re visiting, take a look at the official Puzzlewood website.
Getting There: Puzzlewood is less than a mile south of Coleford in the Forest of Dean. The simplest way is to drive to Coleford and follow the brown tourist signs for Puzzlewood. If you are using a GPS or satnav, use the postcode: GL16 8QB. It is possible to get a train or bus near to Coleford. However, you would be required to order a taxi in advance from nearby train stations or bus stops, so this would require some advance planning.
Facilities & Amenities: There is a large free car park and toilets on site. They also have a small cafe offering simple snacks, cakes, sandwiches and drinks. The cafe also stocks a few souvenirs and gifts, but don’t expect a whole shop for this. Your best souvenir will be the memories of getting lost here and the endless photographs you will want to take.
I hope you’ve found this guide both useful and fascinating enough to convince you to head to Puzzlewood for an interesting and unique day out. These are no ordinary woods… they are puzzling, intriguing, mystifying and enchanting – come see for yourself! And if you do, let me know in the comments… I’d also love to hear your stories if you’ve already been to Puzzlewood. Did you get lost too? Share your stories, hints and tips below…
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