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Speculation is a picnic site with car park and vast woodland walks off the B4234, just south of Lydbrook, close to the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail and with its entrance opposite The Forest of Dean Cycle Centre at Cannop in the heart of the Forest of Dean. It is an area popular with locals, particularly for dog walking (see this route) and takes in ancient woodland as well as many historic sites.
As you follow the old railway line through Mireystock and on towards Lydbrook, you get a sense of the mining history. There are embankments, cuttings, bridges and a tunnel and in places the old boundary fence is still in situ. As you walk north from Speculation towards the A4136 (Gloucester to Monmouth road) you come to an area known as Mireystock. Here the railway had a steep descent (1 in 58) into Lydbrook starting in a cutting before entering Mireystock Tunnel. You can walk down to the entrance, although it is very wet, and the tunnel itself is closed. The tunnel is 221m long, under the A4136, and emerges into a deep, steep sided cutting. In the 1970s, this cutting was filled with 30,000 tonnes of waste from the nearby Waterloo Colliery, removing all access to the tunnel and preventing its use when the cycle paths were constructed 20 years later.
Close to Mireystock is a secluded fishing pond, known as Waterloo Screens, used by The Royal Forest of Dean Angling Club and stocked with carp, perch, tench, chub, roach and rudd. Although the pond can be approached from Mireystock Tunnel and Bridge, access is boggy and the simplest way is from a pull-in on the A4136 south of Brierley. For much of the year the pond is covered in native water lilies and is a picturesque spot
A new memorial to miners was constructed in 2022 and sits on the northern edge of the pond. The memorial commemorates an accident at Waterloo Colliery in June 1949 when the pit flooded as old workings were breached. What could have been a disaster was prevented by the actions of a small number of men and no lives were lost; some men repeatedly returned to the flooded mine leaving five missing who were eventually rescued via old workings at another nearby mine. It was sculpted by Antony Dufort and commissioned by the Royal Forest of Dean Freeminers Association.
History of Speculation and Mireystock
When exploring the Forest of Dean, it is tempting to think it has always been the same, but of course that is not the case and much of what we see today has been shaped by man. Like many of the other visitor sites and open spaces in the Forest of Dean, Speculation is the location of a former colliery. Several of the pits had “wishful” names and besides Speculation, these include Smith’s Delight, Ready Money, As you Like It and Rose in Hand but there was also one called No Luck at All!
Close to the bridge and tunnel at Mireystock is a small wood-covered hill and this is the spoil from Waterloo Colliery (also known as Arthur & Edward), ½ mile to the north-west on the B4234 into Lydbrook. The coal and waste from the mine were moved to the screens by an 800 yard long incline upon which was laid a trolley-way, worked by an endless rope, known locally as "the Creeper" and crossed the A4136 by a trestle bridge and then into the screens. All of this was removed when the mine closed in 1959 and only the tip remains, although there is still evidence of the creeper along the cycle track. The pit head itself is today a small business park for industrial units.
From about 1810 the Forest mines relied on horse-drawn tramways to move the iron, coal, and stone and by the 1870s many of these had been converted to the Severn and Wye Railway running from Lydney (on the Severn) to Lydbrook (on the Wye) with many branches throughout the Forest. This former railway runs through Speculation and has been converted to a cycle path running from the Family Cycle Trail to Lydbrook. Although built for the mines, the railway opened for passengers from 1875 to 1929 and good services to Lydbrook were closed in 1956 as the mines shut down.
In 2005 a project was started to assess the feasibility of once again using the tunnel for cyclists and walkers and it successfully bid for £50,000 from an ITV programme, The People’s Millions, which was funded by lottery grants. The programme stipulated that the project had to be completed within 12 months and amazingly this was done, and the north portal of the tunnel was exposed, and the cutting cleared. Unfortunately, the tunnel was never opened, and the dream of the cycle path was not realised. Today the cutting is once more blocked and the tunnel entrance lost from sight, this time to the forest and undergrowth. It is to be hoped that one day the dream will be realised, just as it has been with the Tidenham Tunnel, near Chepstow.
Booking & Payment Details
- Free Entry
- Children welcome
- Free Parking
- Dogs Accepted
* Access to the car park at Speculation closes at dusk.