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Riverside walks, sculptures, great for birdwatching, sunsets and steeped in history, Lydney Harbour is well worth visiting as a place of beauty but also to see the power and force of the River Severn and its estuary which has the second highest tidal range in the world.
The History of Lydney Harbour
Lydney Harbour is a place steeped in history and heritage.
From Roman times through the industrial revolution and well into the 20th century Lydney Harbour has been a cornerstone of the River Severn's heritage.
The Severn Estuary is one of the UK's national heritage jewels, known the world over for its massive tidal range and internationally important habitat, but even more so for its history of exporting and as one of the UK's principle sea links to the rest of the world.
Lydney Harbour has played a full part in making the Severn Estuary the gateway from the South West to the rest of the world. For these reasons it has always held a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Lydney.
Read about the wrecks of Lydney here.
The Lydney Harbour stones are not actually ancient and were not built by druids, but were sculpted by local artist David Yeates and form a compass, with the directions carved into them. The stones were repurposed for this installation after having been used to create an emergency flood dam when the dock lockgates collapsed in 1997. Yeates also created the New Fancy Geomap celebrating both the geological and the industrial history of the Forest of Dean.
Visiting Lydney Harbour and Nearby Walks
It is a one mile easy walk from Lydney Railway Station (or the Dean Forest Railway stop) to the harbour.
Heritage steam and diesel services are run through the Forest of Dean by the Dean Forest Railway between Lydney Town, Norchard, Whitecroft and Parkend. For a car free holiday why not consider catching the train to Lydney and then taking the heritage railway into the Forest of Dean?
Hips Harbourside is a café that is open seven days a week down at Lydney Harbour, it is open 9-4pm in the summer months, and 9-3pm outside of summer. The café serves a variety of hot and cold drinks, cakes, toasties and soup. Reusable 'Keep Cups' are available and come with a free coffee when you buy one. There is a lip to the sliding door for the café, which may make it inconvenient for wheelchair users.
The public toilets are managed by Hips Harbourside and are open while the café is open (9-4pm in summer, 9-3 outside of summer), there is a ramp to access the toilets, which do have a disabled toilet inside.
The visitor information hub is adjacent to the toilets, just behind the café (also open 9-4pm in summer, 9-3 outside of summer) and contains wall displays of wildlife to look out for and an overview of the harbour’s heritage.
There is a very pleasant and easy walk around the docks and harbour here.
The Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership has developed a series of walking routes around the harbour and Lydney town which can be found here.
'From the Forest to the Sea' art trail
The ‘From the Forest to the Sea’ art trail. Created by artists, Denman + Gould, the public art trail begins at the roundabout on the A48, continues along the former railways line beside the canal and finishes at the site of Coal Tip Number 9 at the end of the harbour
The trail has been inspired by the harbour’s role in the Forest of Dean’s industrial heritage, particularly the journey that extracted materials made in and out of the harbour – predominantly coal out of the forest and timber into Lydney for the Pine End works
‘Tower’, made of green oak is an 8metre high sculpture alluding to the timber cross-braced supports used in a range of local heavy industries, such as coal mining and railways, during the industrial revolution
When visitors arrive at the harbour they will notice ‘Lookout’ and ‘Coal Arch’ silhouetted against the skyline. The two new sculptures stand in the footprints of previous structures seen in old photos taken during the harbour’s golden age. One was an octagonal white hut, and the other a black hut, which stood beside coal tip number 9.
‘Lookout’ has been made of blue green Forest of Dean pennant stone (cut at Forest of Dean Stone Firms).
In contrast, ‘Coal Arch’ has been made of timber which has been charred using a technique called Shou Sugi Ban, to resemble coal, historically one of the harbour’s main exports.
Along the walking trail between Lydney Railway Station and the harbour, visitors will find three playful, stacked sculptures that have been inspired by the railway that once ran along this path. Sleepers have been inscribed with the poetic names of Forest of Dean collieries, and the ships that used to dock at the harbour.
Destination Lydney Harbour and Current Developments
Future developments of the harbour are currently in progress following a successful funding bid. New sculptures and information boards will be installed in 2022 with improved road access.
The highway improvements will see a new street lit footpath alongside Harbour Road to create easier, and safer access. The road will also be resurfaced – Gloucestershire Highways have said this work should be completed in winter 2022.
New wayfinding and heritage interpretation signs and information boards have been installed around the harbour, providing insight into the harbour’s heritage and highlighting walks around the harbour.
Plan Your Visit to Lydney Harbour
Booking & Payment Details
- Free Entry
- Children welcome
- Free Parking
- Dogs Accepted
- Coach parties accepted
* Always open.