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Base Camp Journal: Bracelands, Forest of Dean

It seemed like only yesterday that we left the Base Camp in the depot after the final trip of 2020. Robby brought it out again for a visit to Bracelands Campsite, which is located in a giant clearing in the Forest of Dean. Unfortunately I could only join him for two nights, since it was Mothers' Day weekend, but it was worth the journey. It was only an hour's drive along the M4 then an A road, so we could potentially return there for a day out.

Bracelands Campsite is nice enough. The staff are friendly. The pitches have plenty of space between them. From our spot we had a perfect view of the sunset over the evergreen tree line further downhill.

Coleford, the nearest town, is just a five minute drive from the site. There isn't much to see there, but it's handy for an emergency shopping run, and the Tram Shop sells the best chips we had in years.

In the early afternoon Robby and I decided to follow the trail from the north-east corner of the Bracelands site to Symonds Yat. This is a four-mile trek through the forest. It's near impossible to get lost - each junction of the trail has a marker, and one only needs to head a few miles south or west to reach a main road. Apparently there are wild boars in the area, but we didn't see any. There are a lot of deer around. I saw them occasionally while driving through the area during the early hours, and a herd of them ventured into the field next to the campsite, Robby told me.

If I remember correctly, 'Symonds Yat' is an old Viking name that could be translated to 'Simon's Gate'. The trail we followed took us to Symonds Yat East, where there isn't much aside from some tables and a coffee shop - I think it's more a start/finish point for those who want to explore the forest. Robby went there to experience the view from 'Symonds Yat Rock', which is a point on the mountain peak overlooking the Wye Valley.

In the evening we spent a few hours in the New Inn, a mile from Bracelands. It was very busy to begin with, but we did get a table and ordered something to eat. The food was excellent and unique - the chef had made it him/herself, instead of preparing it from ready-made supplies as we'd find in most pubs.