The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
We love the Forest of Dean. I am sure I have said this many times before, but we are SO lucky to have it almost on our doorstep. There are lots of fantastic walks that you can do, but we fancied trying the Sculpture Trail. I have done some of the sculpture trail – on a bit of a team-building event with my new Y7 tutor group about 9 years ago. We have also seen parts of it when we have set out on walks from Beechenhurst Lodge. On this visit though, we thought we would try and see a bit more of it. I printed off a map at home (to save us buying one) and feeling super-prepared, we set off!
The first sculpture we saw is Dead Wood/Bois Mort. These are 5 steel plates dug into the forest floor which are reminiscent of grave stones. It is quite eerie. We have seen this sculpture several times previously, and on each occasion Freyja usually asks if they are real gravestones. The artist wants us to “contemplate the carnage of war” but I like to think that the reminder of death should make us appreciate being alive and enjoying the beauty surrounding us. Then Rich had a good idea. “Rather than taking the path, let’s take a short cut up the hill.” he said. “It will be fine!” he said.
It wasn’t fine.
That photo marks the last moment we had a clue where we were. We got lost. We bumped into other people who didn’t know where they were. We found a sculpture that wasn’t even listed on the trail map. We compared maps with other lost sould. We still didn’t have a clue. Eventually we came to Speech House Hotel. We weren’t where we thought we were. But now we did know where we were. So now we wouldn’t get lost would we?
We did get lost again. Thankfully, not before seeing the wonderful piece called Cathedral. This has to be one of my favourite pieces of artwork. We followed the path through an avenue of tall trees, reminiscent of walking up the aisle of a cathedral and at the end of it there is a huge stained glass window depicting the forest (rather than anything religious) suspended in the trees. It is absolutely stunning.
We did get a bit lost again. And it may have been a teensy bit my fault. However, realising we had left the right path, we turned back and managed to find another couple of sculptures. Firstly there was Echo. This is a cast of the quarry in which you find the sculpture. The surroundings may change over time with physical, chemical and biological erosion, but the sculpture doesn’t – capturing a moment in time forever. We enjoyed working out which part of the quarry the sculpture was cast from.
The final sculpture we saw was Coal Measure Giants. This consists of two, 300 millions year old tree fossils next to a cast iron structure. The two pieces are 300 metres apart which represents the distance of the nearest coal seam below the ground.
The girls had had quite a walk and were desperate to play on the play area at Beechenhurst Lodge, so we finished our walk having only seen four of the seventeen sculptures. The lesson learnt was to just stick to the actual trail and not try to be clever! At least we have a very good excuse to come back to the Forest of Dean soon to finish the rest of the sculpture trail!