News & Features

The latest happenings from in and around Belvedere House

The Forest Makes You Twitch!


 

 

Helen and myself have always been interested in bird watching and such was my interest that as a child I joined the RSPB for a while. In fact, I even sponsored a duck at one stage, only to have notification a few months later that it had been shot! Oh well, I won’t bestow my bad luck on another one of our feathered friends. Prior to moving to the Forest of Dean we lived in a variety of medium sized towns and had to be satisfied with the usual starlings, sparrows, blackbirds etc that one would expect. At one point we even lived within walking distance of a nature reserve so got visited by a few more interesting species. Moving to the Forest and Wye Valley area however, has been like a massive step forward into the natural world. The dawn chorus is sometimes so loud that the word deafening comes to mind. The less common birds that we have sighted (listed below) are not just occasional sightings, but regular visitors living and breeding within our grounds and the surrounding area. It’s been a real delight sitting on the patio at the front of the house and watching the baby birds flitting about and the parents feeding them. We’ve started setting targets for the next bird we want to see. We were already getting various types of tits, robins, blackbirds, thrushes etc. so our first target bird was Nuthatch, tick, next woodpecker, tick (Great Spotted). Now it’s Green Woodpecker and we’ll let you know when he appears. With both the River Wye and the forest literally on our doorstep you don’t need to travel far or even at all to see plenty of birds. If you are however a bit more serious about your twitching, then you’ll want to visit the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve about 5 miles from Belvedere House in the heart of the forest, or go to Symonds Yat Rock where they have a viewing station set up with telescopes for you to watch the nesting Peregrine Falcons.

Why not dust off your binoculars, dig out the bird book (or smartphone app) and book a short break at Belvedere House and enjoy some exciting bird watching in this beautiful countryside.

What we’ve seen so far,
Blue, Great, Willow and Long Tailed Tits
Swallows, Martins and Swifts
Wren’s
Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow),
Robins
Nuthatch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Cormorant
Grey Wagtail
Buzzard
Goshawk
Tree creeper (seen near Symonds Yat and in the woods at Beachenhurst)
Jay
Canada Geese, Swans
Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Green Finch and Bullfinch
Mandarin Duck
Pheasant
Tawny Owl (heard not seen….. yet)
Mistle and Song Thrush

Proms in the Park


A little while ago we had the good fortune to watch the local brass band perform. The Lybrook Band has a fantastic reputation and we were certainly very impressed. So when we heard of the Proms in the Park event organised and featuring the band we immediately made a date in our diary. If you happen to be in the area at the time, do come to the event, or why not stay at Belvedere House for a couple of nights and make a weekend of it. There are a host of other wonderful things to see and do in the area.

 

http://www.lydbrookband.co.uk/proms/index.html

Spring has sprung



Spring has to be one of the best times of year for us and probably May being our favorite month. Everything is so lush and green. Although the ground underfoot is still a little moist in places, it’s a great time to get out and enjoy natures abundance.

We have thoroughly enjoyed exploring with the culinary delights of Wild Garlic and have discovered that you can use it almost any savory dish from salads to soups and pasta to Paella!

Food Glorious Food


I don’t know about you, but when we go on holiday one of our favourite activities is sampling the local produce and cuisine.

We regard ourselves as foodies and as such we feel very lucky to live an an area with such a rich and diverse food culture.

Whether you’re after wild boar sausages or Gloucester cheese, there are plenty of interesting places near Belvedere House to whet a food lover’s appetite!

 

Here we’ve shared some of the great food related things you can experience while staying in the Forest of Dean.

Food Festivals

Forest Showcase Food & Drink Sunday 4th October.

Over 100 stalls and opened by Masterchef’s Greg Wallace. Featuring the area’s local producers.

Abergavenny food Festival (30 minutes away) 19th – 20th September

Over 31,000 people visited in 2014 and this year should be an even better event.

Newent Onion Fayre (25minutes away) 12th September

Bet you’ve never been to an Onion Fayre before? So here’s your chance. Don’t worry its not just about onion, although if you fancy exhibiting yours, then this is the place. You’ll also find organics and fresh local produce through to beers, wines, ciders and fruit juices, live music, street entertainers, dancing, animal displays, fairground rides, exhibitions, lakeside events and over 100 stands with arts, crafts and plants to name but a few.

 

Local Producers

Smarts Traditional Gloucester Cheese

Well being in Gloucester we had to start with our famous cheese.

Ragmans Farm

Literally just down the road from us. They supply fruit and veg in season from their 60 acre farm as well providing courses educating and employing people to work the land sustainably, giving them the opportunity to ‘learn on the job’, as well as producing shiitake and oyster mushroom logs and award winning apple juice.

Crooked End Farm

A must visit and why not buy some local produce to take home. (Keep it chilled in the fringe in your room!)

Harts Ban Craft Centre

There is lots to see and do here, including the cookery school. Well worth a visit and just 10 minutes away.

Humble by Nature

Owned and run by BBC’s Kate Humble. Just a bit further down the Wye valley with Farm shop, various courses, events and food. Why not sign up for the “Big Day Out” on 4th July.

Forest Bakehouse.

I’m sure you will be aware of the renewed interest in artisan breads, well this is where you can buy some wonderful examples, or why not book for a beginners course in sourdough bread making!

 

Eating Out

There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in the area, including in the towns of Ross on Wye and Monmouth where you will be able to sample local cuisine. We even have an Indian restaurant just 5 minutes walk from Belvedere!

 

Eating In

 

Here at Belvedere House we will offer you the best we can including home made bread, pancakes, waffles, jams, marmalade, granola, fruit compote and hash browns. We also use locally reared and cured Gloucester old spot bacon, local sausages and free range eggs.

 

Why not come and stay with us and taste all that the forest has to offer!

March seems to be the month when things really begin to kick off in the forest, here are just a few


Listed below are just some of the many events/activities you may like to visit.

14th Why not give your taste buds a tingle with these 2 events. Firstly, there’s the Taurus crafts Beer Festival, Mini Food Market and Whole Lamb Roast. Entry is free and starts at 4pm. The lamb roast starts at 6pm and costs £15 per head. Check the link for more details, sounds wonderful!

If wine is more your thing, then head over to Tintern where Parva Farm Vineyard is holding a free tour and wive tasting. Parva Farm is a privately owned and run vineyard in the village of Tintern, South Wales. The vineyard produces (many) award-winning wines, meads and sparkling wines for all occasions. Check out their website http://www.parvafarm.com/index.asp

Now if you feel that you  couldn’t cope with all that food and beverage, then maybe its time to take up a new outdoor activity. The Wye Valley is famous for being one of Europes premier Canoeing and Kayaking centers. What better place then to learn more about this popular activity. Way2Go Adventures ask holding an intro weekend where you can learn how to get started, and if you live in a GL postcode, its free! Whilst on their website, why not check out their other activities http://www.way2goadventures.co.uk/

There’s so much to see and do in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Belvedere House really is ideally situated to explore all that’s on offer. Why not come and stay?

 

Canoeing on the River Wye


You can canoe continuously for 133km (the length of the public right to navigate from Hay Town Bridge to Bigsweir) which makes the Wye a great river for long distance touring. For this reason it is popular with Duke of Edinburgh expeditions as well as many canoe enthusiasts. White water canoeing is enjoyed on parts of the upper river catchment. The rapids at Symonds Yat are a nationally important canoeing site owned by the British Canoe Union (BCU). Much of the rest of the river is suitable for a more sedate paddle. There are a number of commercial canoe hire firms and adventure holiday companies based on the Wye, offering canoe and kayak trips. 9 of these organisations are in our area. This Link takes you to the local tourist board page listing with further information. At Belvedere House we provide secure garage space for you to store your canoes/kayaks whilst you enjoy our perfectly situated Bed and Breakfast accommodation overlooking the popular entry point at lower Lydbrook.