PuzzlewoodGloucester
Perrygrove Road
Gloucestershire GL16 8QB
 

 

This 14 acres (5.7 ha) tourist attraction in the Forest of Dean is just as intriguing as its name suggests. Puzzlewood is an eerie, mysterious and beautiful place. It is rare for a site promoted as an attraction popular with children, should be so beloved by adults.

The moss covered rocks and caves, ancient trees, tangled vines and ferns make this a fantasy world where goblins and fairies must live. Old steps and wooden bridges provide exciting access without danger.

History
The real history of this place is just as fascinating as any dreamed up by J R Tolkien who carried out archeological work in the area. Puzzlewood is believed to have been the inspiration for Middle-earth in the "The Lord of the Rings".
 
Another author who lived in the area and knew it well is J K Rowling. Perhaps ‘The Forbidden Forest’ in her Harry Potter books is based on her memories of this spot.
 
Scowle
The type of landscape at Puzzlewood can be found elsewhere in the Forest of Dean and is unique to the area. The local name for these dips and hollows is “scowle”. It is believed to come from the Celtic word "crowll" meaning a cave or hollow, or the Welsh word "ysgil" meaning a recess. Welsh was the main language in the local area before about the 9th century.
 
Scowles are significant geological features and originated through the erosion of natural underground cave systems formed in the carboniferous limestone many millions of years ago. Iron rich water permeated from the surface and deposited iron ore in crevices in the caves.
 
Uplift and erosion caused the cave system and veins of ore to become exposed above ground. This was then exploited by Iron Age settlers and the Romans who extracted the iron ore and smelted it with charcoal.
 
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The Puzzlewood Treasure
We know the Romans used the scowles for open-cast iron mining because a hoard of silver Roman coins was unearthed from one of the Puzzlewood diggings. To read more about this find go to our Puzzlewood Treasure article on this website.
 
Trees
The ancient forest contains Oak, Beech, Ash, Lime and Yew trees. Yew has a particular liking for Iron and you can see the trees roots snaking over the ground and disappearing into crevices, actively seeking out the veins of iron-ore below. Fallen Yew branches have been used to make the fences and bridges because Yew is a very hard durable wood. Farmers used to say that "A Yew tree post will outlast a post of iron".
 
Puzzlewood’s Development
In the early 1800s a local landowner laid down a mile (1.5 km) of pathways which meandered through the trees and gullies to open up this ancient forest originally for the amusement of his friends and children. Then, in the early 1900s, Puzzlewood opened to the public, with an honesty box at the gate for the benefit of the local church. Since then it is has remained essentially unchanged with the same pathways and bridges as in earlier times.
 
Access to Puzzlewood is closed during the hardest of winter weather but the facilitiy reopens in early spring, bright with fresh green growth and spring wildflowers. In late spring the wood is carpeted with bluebells. To check if the bluebells are out call Puzzlewood on Tel: +44 (0)1594 833187
 
In summer the bluebells are replaced by lush clumps of ferns, predominantly the Soft Shield Fern and the Harts Tongue Fern and the smell of wild garlic is in the air. Autumn brings a wide range of fungi on the old tree stumps.
 
The wood is home to badgers and foxes and a wide variety of birds. Please take care not to disturb the wildlife.
 
Nearby are two Sites of Scientific Interest - Old Bow and Old Ham Mines which are home to protected colonies of Greater horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and the Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). They can often be seen hunting at dusk.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here: 
 
Other Attractions
The Willow Maze – a living willow rigid structure in the shape of a Celtic double spiral with tunnels and arches, igloos and dead ends. Farm Animals with which to get up close and personal. Children’s Playground Indoor Play (2 challenging mazes)
 
Opening Hours & Admission Prices
Visit the official website for up to date information. Go To:
 
Tip
Wear stout shoes/ Wellington Boots
 
Disabled Access
No
 
Facilities
Toilets on site
Cafe & Gift Shop - There is indoor seating and plenty of picnic benches.
The cafe serves hot & cold drinks, ice-cream, Panini and cakes.
The gift shop is stocked with products by local artists and craftsmen.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1594 833 187
 
Getting There
- By Car:   Puzzlewood is less than a mile (1.5 km) south of Coleford on the B4228. The simplest way is to head to Coleford in the Forest of Dean and follow the brown tourist signs for Puzzlewood. There is a large free car park.
 
- Public Transport:   Nearest Railway Stations: Lydney - 5.65 miles (9 km) Chepstow - 10 miles (16 km)  
 
English Heritage Membership 

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Google Maps - Puzzlewood