The Wye Valley Forest of Dean has won the Best Destination Award in the National Tourism Awards for Wales 2018 as a regional winner and is going forward to the finals on 8 March.
Thousands of people from the UK and as far afield as Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and the USA cast their best of British votes across 10 categories. They recognised the Forest of Dean for its landmarks, activities, history, artisan producers, wildlife, and places to eat, which beat nominations including:
Described by LandLove Magazine as “an ancient land at its best in autumn when its majestic trees turn a shade of gold”, the Forest of Dean spans three counties of Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire as well as the England/Wales border, which makes it a unique UK destination.
Acting Editor, Lauren Morton, says: “This year many of the categories were neck and neck right until the end when we saw several popular names take the lead. We saw a lot of social media buzz from our nominees, some posting weekly mentions of our awards which attributed to it being hotly contested, especially at the end. We’re grateful to the nominees for their promotion of their nominations and we know that its success is partly down to their efforts. Congratulations to the winners.”
Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism, which promotes the area as a year-round all-weather destination, is thrilled that the public vote topped the poll.
Maureen McAllister, Executive Director of Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism said: “We’re thrilled to have won this award, which recognises the incredible history, heritage and exciting activities that take place in the Forest today. The area has experienced a surge in visitor numbers for the past few years as word spreads about its stunning natural habitat, activities, food and drink.
“Everyone who lives, works or has visited the Forest of Dean knows what a unique and wonderful place it is, but now it’s officially Britain’s Favourite Forest.”
Visitors flock to the area for different reasons: every spring the stunning bluebells carpet the glades, this year sees the return of the Wye Valley River Festival in May. In summer tourists love the outdoors, shady walks, mountain bike riding, canoeing and exciting or historic attractions.
As LandLove cited, autumn is a time when the Forest is ablaze with colour as the canopies’ colour changes. In the winter, it’s an escape from the city attracting visitors to its frosty walks and cosy pub fires.
The Forest of Dean still has Freeminers working their mines just as they have since medieval times, but looking further back into the past, its stunning landscapes, ancient monuments, and unique geological formations have inspired storytellers and steeped this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in thrilling tales of fantastic figures and mythical creatures.
The Forest of Dean was an inspiration for iconic figures such as Henry V and J R R Tolkien and was also the childhood home of J K Rowling as well as providing locations for key scenes for blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens.