Some of you might have noticed that I was a bit absent on social media over the weekend and that is because I was away on the border of Wales with my family, enjoying a few days in St Briavels and Puzzlewood. We started off the weekend by staying in a very haunted castle, in a very remote and tiny little town called St Briavels where we had absolutely no internet connection. And it was pure bliss. To be perfectly honest it was SO nice to shut off from the world for a couple of days, to not have to worry about being bombarded by anyone at all and to just simply enjoy the time with my family in the gorgeous scenery that we were surrounded by.
Admittedly when we arrived, within the first five minutes, we found ourselves in the midst of a tremendous rain storm – typically right after we had paid for my cousins and brother to have a go on a dirt track on mountain boards! However, once the initial rain had cleared up, while there were the occasional showers, for the majority of the two days we had lovely, warm and sunny weather which is pretty incredible all on its own considering that we were right on the border of Wales!
On Sunday we stayed in the YHA run St Briavels Castle, which I know might be a bit off-putting for some people but it is so beautifully decorated and organised that it is actually not a problem at all! Plus it means that you have the chance to meet people of all ages, from all over the world which is definitely pretty cool. And as if it wasn’t already unique and interesting enough on it’s own, it is also said to be one of the most historically haunted castles in the country which definitely isn’t surprising considering that it was once used as a prison! Now I know a lot of people won’t believe in ghosts and all that kind of stuff, but it completely terrifies me and I can tell you now that there is definitely some serious other-worldy activity going on in that castle which kept us all up throughout the night with creaks, bangs and a whole array of bizarre sounds and activities!! The castle itself is actually a bit of a soft spot for my family too as it is where my mum and step-dad held the reception for the Medieval themed wedding a few years back so it was really nice to go back to visit at the weekend! While there isn’t a huge amount to do in St Briavels itself as it is quite small, the castle are good as they have board games that are free to use, host archery lessons and it is surrounded by various other little towns and beautiful footpaths that twist and wind their way through the incredible scenery that the border of Wales and the Forest of Dean have to offer. So with all of that being said if you’re looking for somewhere much more interesting than the typical hostel or hotel, then I would definitely check out St Briavels Castle.
We only stayed the one night in the castle but that wasn’t the end of our mini holiday at all as on Monday we all piled into the cars and trekked the whole ten minutes down the road to Puzzlewood, which can be found in the heart of the Forest of Dean. You might not have heard of it before (as I definitely hadn’t) but you’ve most likely seen it on TV as it has been the backdrop for many films and series including Merlin, Doctor Who and Atlantis – plus while we were visiting they were actually setting up to begin filming The Huntsman so that was super exciting! Even without that fantastic fact it would have been a wonderful place to visit anyway as it was simply gorgeous, it really is the place of fairy-tales and myths. The woodland only takes up 14 acres itself, but once you enter you find yourself winding in and out of meandering pathways, across bridges and underneath tree archways and it is easy to find yourself being captivated by the enchanting atmosphere that engulfs you from the second that you step into the woods. All-in-all it is definitely one of those places that I could have spent all day wandering around in, even though in reality it isn’t that big, and I can definitely understand how JRR Tolkien took inspiration from the natural area for his books The Lord of the Rings. Plus for just £6.50 for an adult ticket I would definitely say that it is worth every penny. And if you’re considering taking a family day out it is wonderful for the kids to explore the woods, but if that isn’t quite interesting enough for them then there are plenty of mazes, playgrounds and petting areas full of animals to help captivate them that way instead! However, I am going to say that I would definitely advise checking their website prior to arranging your visit in order to prevent any disappointment as the woods are sometimes closed (I am assuming for filming purposes)!
The whole weekend was so much fun, full of laughter and even though it was incredibly chaotic (because everything always is when my entire family is involved) I think that it was just the break that I needed!