I was recently out in the Forest of Dean, with Forest Holidays. We stayed overnight in a cool forest cabin, we did a foraging tour in the forest and we prepared our own meals including the tasty stuffed partridge. We also had a food demonstration from Nick Weston, chef from Hunter Gather Cook based in Sussex. I was on tour with lots of other UK based travel writers, photographers, bloggers and journalists.
At night we did a forest tour with the forest ranger, Gerry. The tour started around 9.30 pm. We met up at the forest retreat. Gerry handed us each a night vision goggle. It was basically an infra red telescope for putting over one eye so that you can see in the dark. I had done the Night Safari in Singapore before and plenty of Safaris Around the World, but this was my first night vision forest tour.
Gerry gave us an introduction to the tour and also was accompanied with his signature barn owl, called The Professor. We all got a chance to touch The Professor and put it on our hands and shoulders. We then headed out into the woods.
The animals you can see here in the forest are wide and varied. The Forest of Dean is home to over 1,000 wild boar. Although native to England, these wild boar were put back into the Forest of Dean down the years and have now multiplied at quite a high rate. Wild Boar are often spotted on the night vision tours. Gerry knows how and where to find them. However, they are not nocturnal so sightings can happy by day or night. After my time feeding hyenas face to face in Ethiopia, this was to be a rather mild animal experience!
Female travel writer, Erica from A Little Luxury for Me, did the entire tour holding The Professor on her arms and shoulder. Erica is in the red jacket, pictured below.
We walked through the woods for just over an hour and in that time, we got to see lots of wild deer. There are three types of deer in the Forest of Dean including the Roe deer. The deer we saw were mostly Fallow deer and we saw some females and males with large antlers. They were just grazing in the grass. There are also Muntjac deer, a smaller breed, though we didn’t see them on our tour.
Other animals that can be sighted include foxes, badgers, rabbits and falcons. We didn’t see any wild boar unfortunately but we did see the parts of the soil and land that had been trodden through by wild boar, they dig their legs deep into the soil, which is apparently helpful for the movement of plant species in the forest. However, the population of wild boar is too huge to contain nowadays and they recently destroyed a cricket pitch, so the local authorities are trying to cull the population of wild boar. Some of the dead boar is shot and sold as meat.
Obviously the night vision tour is in the darkness, so you are lighting your way by torch and therefore photos are hard to take. We saw lots of deer but mostly through the goggle. The best way to experience is of course to do it for yourself.
There are obviously also lots of insects in the Forest, though these are hard to see at night. We saw some beetles by day.
The night tour currently costs £10 per person and you must be at least 10 years old to join the tour. Animal sightings are not 100% guaranteed as this is nature and is unpredictable, but you will enjoy the experience for sure! Thanks to Gerry at the Forest of Dean and all at Forest Holidays for such a nice couple of days in the Gloucestershire countryside.
Here are some videos from the night vision tour: