Forest of Dean, Autumn 2018

The Forest of Dean occupies the hills in Gloucestershire between the River Severn and the River Wye—”a heart-shaped place between two rivers,” as Dennis Potter described it.

I visited the Forest recently for a few days. We arrived at Symonds Yat in the late afternoon, with the sunlight tilting into the Wye valley. We left via Littledean, situated on a hill overlooking the River Severn, on the other side of the Forest. And the two rivers couldn’t’ve been more different.

In this part of the country, the River Wye comes down through a narrow and deeply wooded valley, rich with autumn. Steep-sided and gorge-like in places, with limestone cliffs and pillars above the river. A secret and magical river that you never see until you’re close to it.

River Wye at Symond's Yat

River Wye, Symonds Yat

The River Severn, by contrast, is wide band of water crossing the plain as it approaches the estuary and the Bristol Channel, the land flat enough to farm. It is unmistakable and unmissable, broad and sweeping. The light here was different too—the exposed vale is full of morning sunlight, with a view to the far ridge of the Cotswolds in the distance.

River Severn from Littledean

River Severn, nr Littledean

I know they are two rivers, but seeing them like this, it was easy to appreciate that they were two different rivers.