Places to stay, things to do, good food and drink
Encompassing an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spectacular castles and acres of ancient woodland, the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean has become a huge draw for film and TV makers, hosting multi-million pound motion-pictures alongside for smaller productions.
The region’s unspoilt countryside, spanning both England and Wales, and the three counties of Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire, has appeared on the big and small screen much more often than many people will have realised.
On the edge of the Forest of Dean is the double for the corridors of Hogwarts, the cloisters of the Cathedral are as beautiful in real life with light bathing the ancient stonework. If you’re lucky, you might event stumble across the door to the Gryffindor Common Room.
Take a journey through time into the ancient mines of Clearwell Caves but look out for aliens – there might be a few still hiding out after the 10th Doctor defeated him in his first adventure – The Christmas Invasion. A filming location since the 1970s when episodes of cult series Blake’s 7 featured the magical caverns and mines, stepping down in to Clearwell is like stepping into another world.
Is that Camelot I see on the horizon? Close – it’s Raglan Castle which stood in for the mythical kingdom of King Arthur in BBC’s Merlin. The site of one of the last sieges of the Civil War, Raglan has been a site of drama and intrigue long before the film crews arrived.
Symonds Yat and Coppet Hill
In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt.1, the brave trio – Harry, Ron and Hermione – find themselves on Coppet Hill when Hermione recalls family holidays by the River Wye. J. K. Rowling herself spent a decade of her childhood in the region, hence the novel’s Quidditch team, The Tutshill Tornados.
In 2013, the eyes of the world were on Chepstow Castle as it featured in the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who. Wander around its impressive stone battlements overlooking the River Wye as you follow in the footsteps of no less than three Doctors.
Doward and Biblins
Between Biblins and Monmouth lies a stunning stretch of river bank below Symonds Yat. This timeless landscape attracted Guy Ritchie this summer to film scenes for the upcoming Knights of the Round Table, with the nearby caves of Great Doward also sheltering Charlie Hannum in his scenes as the legendary King Arthur.
Speech House Lake
Stand on the banks of Avalon at the Speech House Hotel. Surrounded by trees dating back to the 17th Century which have doubled for the enchanted world of Albion, Speech House lake was seen in the Merlin episode The Lady of the Lake.
Deep in the forest lies a clearing that has hosted American Indians, pioneers and the spirits of the forest themselves. Close the much-loved Sculpture Trail and another filming location at Speech House Hotel Lake, Beechenhurst was the location for a Native American camp in Channel 4’s New Worlds and a set for the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Widow and the Wardrobe.
The grandeur of Caldicot has naturally leant itself to many a medieval adventure. American comedy Galavant has introduced this Norman fortress to viewers across the pond whilst the Forest of Dean stood into for Sherwood in the much-loved Robin of Sherwood series.
A truly magical place, it is no wonder that Puzzlewood has played host to dozens of productions, especially of the fantasy variety. Merlin was a regular visitor during the filming of the hit BBC show along with the Doctor who battled the Weeping Angels among the trees, Jack the Giant Slayer and the stars of Atlantis, The Huntsman and Da Vinci’s Demons.
The force is strong at Puzzlewood. As you follow winding paths across woven bridges and through rocky gullies, you’re sure to recognise sights from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, which filmed key scenes with Rey, the rumoured daughter of Princess Leia and Han Solo.
Find out about all the amazing locations in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, visit the new Film and TV Trail at www.visitdeanwyefilm.co.uk