Grade of Trail:
Trail Waymarking:purple arrows
Length of trail:4.5 miles
The sculptures on this trail are inspired by the forest - its trees, wildlife and industrial past.
Since 1984 The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust has raised funds to commission artists to celebrate and help us appreciate and understand the life of the forest.
The Sculpture Trust works in partnership with the Forestry Commission which maintains the sculptures and trail.
The sculptures are mostly constructed from natural material from the Dean - wood, stone and iron. They are interspersed along the trail through majestic oaks and towering Scots pine trees
A Sculpture Trail leaflet, containing details of the sculptures for £1, is available at Beechenhurst Cafe.
There are waymarked shortcuts: Shortcut A (first 6 sculptures) is approx 2.2 miles in length and Shortcut B is 3 miles (first 12 sculptures)
Some of the Sculptures can be accessed with a power assisted wheelchair, please ring the the Forestry Comission, Tel 0300 067 4800, or e-mail using the link provided for further access information.
A New Era
A series of new sculptures have been introduced in 2016 for visitors to discover and enjoy.
Since the founding of the trail, artisits from all over the world have been invited to respond to the unique heritage of the Forest of Dean. The trail's sculptures were not simply sited here but developed and inspired by the distinctive qualities of the place. They have been intentionally left to be reclaimed by the forest over time, naturally eroding from weather, animals, plant growth and the footfall of the visiting public.
The new artworks have replenished the trail at a time when some older sculptures are coming to the end of their life cycle or have been removed for safety reasons (including Place, commonly known as 'The Giant's Chair')
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, a registered charity, has raised the funding for the new artworks. The trust works in close partnership with the Forestry Commission as part of the Forest Art Works programme to support achieving great art for everyone in England's public forests.
What do other visitors say?
2 StarsPolly, 7/Aug/2016
I walked the trail for the first time in many years. We paid 1 for a map thats was not up to date showing scuptures that weren't even there.
Some of the sculptures are so boring..... the fun things have gone, like the big chair and the swing. Why would new sculptures like something made to look like bamboo be of interest to anyone...i really don't know????
Why can't the swing and the chair be replaced? I remember the swing being something everyone looked forward to, children and adults alike yet now there is just an empty space. I know it is my opinion but if the sculptures were such that enabled the public to have more interaction with, fun and more interest would be brought in. As it is, apart from a couple of sculptures that can be climbed on and the lovely window i found it uninteresting.
As we live locally we use the forest to walk in most days. The trail could be so much better.
Forestry Commission Response
Sorry if you bought an out of date leaflet - the only one we have at Beechenhurst are the new ones, with only the up to date relevant sculpture information on them.
3 StarsAnonymous, 27/Jul/2016
Without a map it is very easy to take the wrong route on the sculpture trail in spite of the new purple signs. The main problem is doubling back on yourself after visiting a sculpture. If you don't spot the correct arrow it's easy to carry on the way you were heading on approach - and go wrong. This is confounded by the fact there could be several purple arrows within a small area. It's really quite confusing at times.
Forestry Commission Response
The new purple arrows were put in last month so the route is completely re-signposted. There is a new map available from the ranger hatch or the café and the big sign at the start is brand new too (some people take a photo of that on their phone) so we have tried our best to help people.
1 StarSheila Ely, 18/Jul/2016
Hardly any sculptures, contrary to impression given on websites. Confusingly marked trail. There is a free leaflet with a map available in the walkthrough passage at the cafe (there is no shop). Its called 'Forest of Dean Explore our family cycling and walking trails', it would be better if there was one called 'Sculpture Trail'. We only found this at the end of our walk. Websites indicate that a trail guide is available at the (now non-existant shop). I would not attempt this with small children, or school children. Nice walks. You definitely need a map, or to photograph the sign at the beginning of the trail. You need 'you are here maps' at frequent intervals and sculptures where they should be. If there are only a few sculptures in situ, there should an updateable map at Beechenhurst Lodge. It was shame. A sizeable school party (?11 year olds) that we saw must have been very disappointed. We drove a long way to see the trail. I was entertaining guests from abroad.
Forestry Commission Response
I am sorry you were disappointed. There are 17 Sculptures on the trail including 4 brand new ones created over the last month or so! The trail has just been completely re-marked with purple arrows on posts clearly marking the route (plus short cuts). The walks map is free and the newly updated Sculpture Trail map is available in the archway, café or ranger hatch when open. A complete redevelopment of the site has meant a much larger café and the shop has gone, it is no longer mentioned on Forestry Commission website. I have asked the Sculpture Trust to update their website. Many schools and other groups come and enjoy the trail.