A tastebuds tour of the Forest of Dean
By David Wood
The trail inspires visitors to explore the hidden gems of the Forest of Dean and enjoy some of the best locally-produced food and drink.
The Forest of Dean is rich in fabulous flavours, artisan expertise and bistro-style bites, due in part to its commitment to sustainable farming, lush meadows, traditional orchards, micro climate and the ingenuity of the people who live here.
Much of the area's fantastic produce is exported across the UK and internationally, but visitors can sample it first hand in local award-winning restaurants, cafés, pubs and on-site experiences.
For those with a sweet tooth there's an itinerary that takes in The Chocolate Bar in Lydney, an artisan maker specialising in delicious chocolates. From here, call into the Mallards Pike Café for a slice of cake overlooking a beautiful lake with unique wildlife, or visit Taurus Crafts in Lydney, which serves superb food and drink that's organic and sustainable.
The cheese-a-holic route takes in the multi award-winning Smarts Farm in Churcham, supplier of the round of Double Gloucester used for the infamous annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling event.
Forest Deli in Coleford has one of the best cheese counters in the region; while Hanley Farm Shop and Café at Tidenham is a much-lauded spot for lunch and place to sample Cheddar made from the milk of the farm's very own cows.
For tasty tipples, the iconic Fountain Inn at Parkend, with its steam train and iron works history, is a great pit stop for walkers, cyclists and motorists alike with its array of real ales and delicious food.
Across the county find the 16th Century Red Hart Inn at Blaisdon, the multi-award-winning and current Forest of Dean Pub of the Year, which is a welcome retreat after completing one of its many walking trails.
If you're curious for the pure nectar of artisan cider or perry, join the family at Severn Cider in Awre to sample some of its products and explore their riverside heritage orchards.
For a foodie overnighter, hunker down at the Three Choirs Vineyard in Newent and combine your stay with a tour and tasting at the state-of-the-art winery and visitor centre, and lunch or dinner at the on-site brasserie.
Deeper into the forest is the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel overlooking the gaze of Clearwell Castle, which dates back to the 13th Century and is described as a "culinary oasis".
Explore breathtaking nature on your doorstep with a stay at the Speech House Hotel near Coleford, a 17th Century royal hunting lodge constructed for Charles II, which was the area's court and administrative centre for centuries. The AA Rosette Verderers' fine dining restaurant serves seasonal dishes in sight of the historical raised courtroom gallery.
For an extra-special experience the Delicious Dean Tastebuds Trail recommends the county's best seafood at Severn & Wye Smokery's beautiful The Barn restaurant; a meal cooked by a private chef from Harts Barn Cookery School at a location of your choosing; or Crafternoon Tea at the Lydney studios of magical mosaic artist, Rachel Shilston.
When it comes to food, the Forest of Dean is in a league of its own, with plenty of places to treat your tastebuds.
Find out more here: https://www.visitdeanwye.co.uk/gofindfreedom
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