Magical Puzzlewood

Rebecca Butler

Magical Puzzlewood

A trip to Puzzlewood will make you believe in fairies.

If you're looking for somewhere to capture your imagination then we've found the perfect place.

Puzzlewood is an ancient 14-acre woodland site famed for its enchanting tree and rock formations that lies in the Forest of Dean, on the border of England and Wales .

We were invited along by Puzzlewood's Manager, Helen, to share our day with you.

Puzzlewood is a place that has inspired many, from authors to film producers.

It’s believed that JRR Tolkien used the wood as inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth. It has also provided the perfect mythical filming location for Doctor Who, Merlin, Tree Fu Tom, The Secret Garden and even scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to name just a few.

Walking to the woods

Before you get to the woods themselves, there are some animals to see and there's a small play area. My two were too excited to get into the woods so we bypassed this bit and headed straight in.

We didn’t really know what to expect but the boys lead the way with their lightsabers.

Puzzlewood App

Puzzlewood has a free app. The free app includes two interactive games. One is an Augmented Reality Treasure Hunt. There are 10 interactive points hidden around the woods, each symbolised by the image of a Roman Coin which need to be scanned.

Discovering Puzzlewood

As soon as we stepped foot in the woods we were transported into a mythical fantasy. We half expected fairies or trolls to jump out from behind a rock and make friends with us.

The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The woods are full of twisted trees, woodland, paths and bridges that the boys absolutely loved exploring and following the enchanting paths. I took so many photos but they honestly don't do the incredible place justice. I've found it really difficult to capture how it actually looks and feels in the woods.

I was absolutely amazed that something could naturally grow like it.

It was originally used for the mining of iron ore in Roman times. Nature then reclaimed the old workings until, in the early 1800s a local landowner laid down a mile of pathways which meandered through the trees and gulleys to open up this ancient forest; originally for the amusement of his friends and children.


Visits have to be booked and there are different time slots throughout the day - 10am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm.

The day we visited it was dry but underfoot was still quite boggy and in places quite slippy. Sturdy footwear is definitely needed and maybe a change of clothes for little ones. 

Pushchairs aren’t allowed on site for health, safety and access reasons. I'm not sure I'd want to risk it with a back carrier if I'm honest. I'd wait until you have a competent walker.

There is a one way system in operation around the woods due to Covid and visitors are asked to stay on the paths so as not to damage the delicate environment. Even so, it didn't feel restrictive in any way and we were still able to explore. Masks are not required in the woodland.

We spent about an hour wandering around the woods exploring. You can stay for as long as you want to - there is no time limit. You can walk around the woods as many time as you like.

There is a cafe on site selling sandwiches, snacks, drinks and ice creams. There are also loads of picnic benches at the entrance/exit where you are able to eat your picnics.

You can easily see why Puzzlewood has been such a popular location for filming of fantasy style productions.

Our Top Tips for Visiting Puzzlewood

  • Make sure you wear sturdy footwear as it is slippy underfoot in some areas.
  • Download the Puzzlewood App to take part in the interactive quest.
  • The walk is not suitable for pushchairs or for people unsteady on their feet.
  • Don't forget your camera.
  • Make sure your children wear clothes that you aren't precious about - they will want to climb and explore so will no doubt end up muddy.
  • Dogs are not allowed on site.
If you enjoy walking, the great outdoors, breathtaking scenery or discovering nature whatever the season then you’ll love Puzzlewood.
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