Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

The Sculpture Trail is a delightful walk through the magical Forest of Dean, showcasing a unique collection of contemporary sculpture. Beginning at Beechenhust picnic site, the 4.5-mile circular trail is an easy to follow route, which can also be explored in a series of shorter distances by following the purple ringed posts and arrows. Children will love burning off any extra energy in the fantastic playground at the end.

The Sculpture Trail has been a developing and evolving entity since its inception in 1986. Today, you can see around 17 sculptures as you make your way through the forest. Iconic artworks include the magnificent ‘Cathedral’ hanging stained glass window and the ‘Iron Road’.

The ‘Cathedral’ window is representative of the forest, rather than having a religious meaning. The artist used vibrant colours to create an abstract version of the landscape, which hangs overhead and catches the light as you meander along the trail. The ‘Iron Road’ has been created from railway sleepers, placed along a disused railway line to reflect the forest’s industrial past. Get up close to spot the intricate carvings in the wooden sleepers.

All the sculptures have been specifically designed to represent the Forest of Dean environment, whether following natural, historic or intellectual concepts of place. You may notice, as you wander along the trail, that none of the sculptures have labels and information signs. This is so you can come away with your own meanings without being influenced by the thoughts of the artist.

The Forest of Dean is a fabulous place to visit at any time of year. You’ll be surrounded by ancient woodland and birdsong, and may even be lucky enough to spot an elusive deer or wild boar. King Henry VIII once used the forest as his hunting ground, while Tolkien used it to inspire his fantastical stories.

After enjoying all that fresh air, head to Beechenhurst Lodge Visitor Centre for a hot drink or snack. The family-run café offers a great choice of locally sourced, hot and cold food. Outside of the café you’ll find a picnic site and children’s playground designed by the sculptor, Andy Frost. Taking inspiration from the Forest of Dean’s heritage, he has created fun play furniture, including swings, a ropeway and logs to clamber over.  

The Sculpture Trail opens daily from dawn to dusk and is free of charge (you will have to pay to park). Although the sculptures have been placed so that you can seek them out for yourself along the way, there is a Sculpture Trail map for sale at Beechenhurst café.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Gloucestershire and Wales.

Images copyright Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust

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