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- Architect-designed contemporary house
- Wonderful woodland setting, complete with stream, in secluded position above Tintern
- Roof terrace with wood-fired hot tub
- Family-friendly, but great for a couple, too
- Games room
- Wonderful walks and cycle-rides from the door
- Four bedrooms: two doubles, a twin and a bunk bedroom, sleeping up to 8
- 20% discount for a couple outside the school holidays (for the use of one bedroom only)
This wonderful contemporary timber-clad, timber-framed woodland house sits in a clearing in the forest above Tintern. Secluded but not isolated, it enjoys a completely private setting, but is only minutes by car to the village. The owners project-managed the build themselves, a process which was featured in Channel 4’s Grand Designs. The result of their immense hard work is a warm, spacious, beautifully designed home, incorporating lots of glass to let in plenty of light and to create interaction with the trees around it.
There is a 20% discount available for a couple outside the school holidays based on the use of one bedroom only (when you book for 2 adults, the price will adjust down automatically)
Fforest lodge opens up to reveal an elegantly detailed Japanese-inspired home filled with unique features. Hand-carved frames support delicate paper screens; tatami, wood and slate floor-coverings give an organic textured feel; wooden carvings and brightly-coloured artworks adorn the interior. The building itself, criss-crossed with locally-grown Japanese Larch cladding and punctuated by big glass windows and doors, creates a lively interaction with the tree-fringed garden outside. The piece de resistance, the roof terrace, takes you soaring up into the tree canopy with a view across tree tops - a truly invigorating feeling.
Downstairs, the living-space – kitchen, dining-area and sitting-area – is a spacious and airy L-shape around the lovely Japanese tatami room. The tatami room is multifunctional: take tea in here, sit and think in here, practise yoga in here, work on a huge jigsaw in here, or lie on futons and watch the bamboo through the long low rectangular window, or the sun diffused through the beech-and-paper screens.
Upstairs, the first floor bedrooms are light and airy: two double bedrooms, a twin bedroom and a bunk bedroom all have lovely views over the garden and into the trees. The bunk bedroom gives onto a first-floor balcony with a table and two chairs. A stunning family bathroom on this floor comprises a bath (with an ingenious bamboo ‘tap’), a loo and hand basin, and a wet room shower.
Another flight of stairs takes you up to the second floor, with games room and shower-room. This shower room is the first stage in spending time in the wood-fired hot tub (once filled and heated), just outside on the L-shaped roof terrace. In line with Japanese bath house tradition, you take a shower in here, washing and rinsing well, before slipping into the hot tub – a lovely all-weather experience.
The garden is a spacious clearing in the woods, with stone flags, a grassy area, and some sensuously shaped sedum-covered mounds. But it reaches out into the trees, too, either side of a shallow stream, which eventually finds it way down to the Wye river. The other side of the house, the garden extends to forest owned by the Forestry Commission, which is wonderful for children's games of hide-and-seek and other adventures. Deer venture out of the forest and into the garden, a wonderful sight early in the morning.
Things to do around Fforest Lodge near Tintern in the Wye Valley
Meadow Farm, on the outskirts of Tintern heading out on the Wye Valley road towards Monmouth, is an organic farm that sells fresh bread, organic vegetables and delicatessen fare. It also has its own microbrewery with a superb selection of bottled ales and beers. At the Tintern Parva vineyard, you can also buy local wine, along with honey, mead and other sweet paraphernalia.
In Brockweir, there is the award-winning Eco Village Shop selling a variety of local, national and international foods, as well as alcoholic beverages, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables. It also boasts a lovely café serving soups, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks, with seating both indoors and outdoors. Outside, there is also a small adventure playground, complete with a zip slide and a large sandpit.
Chepstow, about 5 miles from Tintern, has an eclectic mix of quirky, antique shops, while Monmouth, about 10 miles from Fforest Lodge, has a handsome high street with a Waitrose, an M&S Food, a couple of butchers, an excellent greengrocer and a deli. It also holds a small market on Saturdays. Further afield, about half an hour from Tintern, is Abergavenny, arguably the food centre of Wales with a plethora of delicatessens and an excellent food market held on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Eating out in Tintern
For its size, Tintern boasts a ridiculously large number of eateries, and this is just a selection: The Anchor Inn, opposite Tintern Abbey, is the nearest Tintern gets to a gastro-pub. In addition to an excellent range of delicious and well-presented dishes (the ‘Specials’ board is often well worth a second look), it also enjoys the longest stretch of evening sunshine, with a playground and a large field to boot for the kids to run amok in.
The Moon & Sixpence is a quirky place with a gregarious landlord. The menu is extensive though and well priced. The fish dishes are especially good value.
Fountain Inn, at the end of the Angiddy trail, is a traditional pub with a varied and interesting menu – all well-priced - certainly a worthwhile reward at the end of the Andgiddy ascent. They occasionally also have live music in the evenings.
Meadow Farm is on the outskirts of the village, just past the Old Station on your left. In addition to the organic shop and microbrewery mentioned above, they also do very nice pizzas once a month (typically on Saturdays) cooked in their own self-built pizza oven and often accompanied by live music.
The Old Station is exactly what it says on the tin. Inside, you will find a nice café that still invokes the old Victorian heyday of the steam train. Serving a selection of soup and sandwiches, cakes and beverages, it is a totally unpretentious place and makes for a nice afternoon out with the kids with treasure trails, a playground and, in the milder months, a miniature steam train of its own, to entertain them.
Eating out beyond Tintern
The Crown at Whitebrook is one of Wales’ only two Michelin starred restaurants (the other is The Walnut Tree Inn at the foot of the Skirrid – see below) and well worth visiting if you have something to celebrate. Expect a genuine dining experience: the cheese board is an education in itself!
The Brockweir Country Inn, at the foot of Brockweir bridge, is a nice port-of-call about 25-30 minutes’ walk from Fforest Lodge. In addition to the usual pub fare, they also do tapas on selected evenings.
The Lion Inn in Trellech, about 3 miles from Fforest Lodge, has arguably the most eclectic menu in the region, serving such local delicacies as kangaroo and crocodile! It also has an extensive fish menu and a good sense of humour.
The Inn at Penallt, a little further on the alternative road to Monmouth, is an excellent eaterie with a classy restaurant. It also has a bar menu, and offers good deals on Wednesday evenings.
The Walnut Tree, as mentioned above, is the second Michelin starred restaurant in the area and the food, cooked by Shaun Hill, is indeed exceptional.
Places to see
Tintern Abbey is one of the most iconic buildings in Wales and although you can see the entire ruin from the road, it is still well worth paying the entrance fee just to get a sense of the scale of its construction. It is breathtaking.
Raglan Castle, located about halfway between Monmouth and Abergavenny on the A40, is a very impressive edifice with more turrets that you can shoot an arrow at.
Chepstow Castle is perhaps the largest castle in the area with a spectacular setting perched on a cliff overlooking the Wye. What it lacks in aesthetic comparison to Raglan castle, it makes up for in sheer magnitude.
Skenfrith Castle, as mentioned above, is an interesting castle with the thickest walls you’re ever likely to come across! It is well worth combining with a trip to the Bell at Skenfrith, but perhaps doesn’t warrant a trip on its own, unless you aim to go the whole hog and complete the 20-mile Three Castles Walk (Skenfrith, Grosmont and White Castles).
Big Pit is a disused coal mine that has been lovingly preserved as a testament to the Welsh coal-mining industry and the character of the ‘Valleys’ people. It forms part of a World Heritage Site in Blaenavon, just outside of Abergavenny and is a fascinating day out for adults and children alike. You get to go deep underground and explore the working conditions of those who fuelled the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the Victorian Empire.
Things to do with children
Fforest Lodge is a great base for the large amount of family-friendly activities in the area, or for visits further afield. For families with children, there is the wonderful GoApe! near Lydney (a network of high wires and zip wires through the tree tops), the dedicated cycling track at Pedalabikeaway, the steam train through the Forest of Dean or, for older ones, the caves at Clearwell.
A great day out can be had up river, at Symonds Yat, where the cliffs rise up to Yat Rock, site of one of the most iconic views in the Wye Valley, and where, Peregrine Falcons breed between May and July. You can watch them swooping down from their eyries to hunt for food. Here, there is the Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Centre where you can learn to abseil, and The Butterfly Zoo (with mini golf and a ‘hedge puzzle’, aka maze, next-door). Refresh yourself at the Saracen’s Head pub, a great food pub right on the river where you can watch the river cruisers – river birds, canoeists and sight-seeing boats – pass by, and the famous hand-ferry take passengers from one riverbank to the other.
The nitty gritty
Live online booking
Changeovers are normally Mondays and Fridays. Weekends are set-priced from Friday 4pm to Monday 10.30am; so you can stay 1, 2 or 3 nights for the weekend price. Check availability and book online below, or check availability for all cottages.
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From the visitors book at Fforest Lodge, Tintern, Wye Valley'Thanks for a great stay at your wonderful forest home. We love the house - so light and airy. The walks in the surrounding woods were great and we were visited by deer close to the house grazing on the sedum mounds! The hot tub was a big hit and we were even able to view the Perseid meteors whilst soaking in the warmth.' The Leylands, Brisbane
'A wonderful retreat and the hot tub is perfect! Plenty of space and great for children. Nice being so close to Tintern and to Brockweir. We can now say we have stayed at a Grand Designs featured house!' The Spiteri family, Berkshire
'Thank you for wonderful holiday home with its interesting fusion of Japanese and Western culture. We had a great family reunion (with Australia fusing with Britain) and the setting was perfect.' The Freemans, Australia
'We had a lovely stay here. A lovely house in a beautiful setting. Enjoyed stargazing in the hot tub and listening to the owls. The pool table was also well used!' The Bailey family, Somerset
'Had a wonderfully relaxing break. Star gazing in the hot tub was amazing. Feeling totally relaxed and not looking forward to going back to the rat race. Thanks for the experience.' Mr & Mrs Evans, Bridgend
'We had a lovely time at Fforest Lodge and will always remember it because we got engaged here!' Anonymous but happy couple, London
‘Thank you for a wonderful stay. Such a beautiful house. Our 2-year old loved spotting fairies in the forest – it really does feel enchanted! We loved the hot tub – such a magical experience listening to the owls!' The Valentine family