During half term I took my two children, aged 4 and 6, up to the Forest of Dean for a couple of days. As with many parts of Europe this forest is quite old and wonderfully wild. However this wilderness is helped by being far more natural than other forests in the UK. One of the many species that we killed off is highly important for forests as their hunting for food turns the soil and allows for regeneration. I am of course talking about wild boar.
With two small children in tow, wildlife watching is not easy. They have a shorter attention span and cannot cover as much ground on foot.
Given the habits of wild boar our schedule was pretty well outlined for us. We would rise as early as the children allowed, go out in the car looking for wild boar for a couple of hours. We would then go and have breakfast and find something to keep us occupied until having an early supper. After this we would go back to driving the back roads and walking the forest paths.
The Forest of Dean is thought to have around about 1,500 boar at the moment, which means in theory you have a reasonable chance of finding the animals. Having said that they are highly secretive and nocturnal so rarely visible during the day hence the times of day that we were looking for them. Forest of Dean covers around about 500 square kilometres therefore hey do not live at particularly high densities.
The first three trips out we didn’t see anything. We simply enjoyed the wild atmosphere and had nice walks quietly through the woods. We centred our searching around a local village called Brierley, as I had read a blog that suggested boar were found in this area. Given my two children were extremely tired it was our last pass around the area before letting them go to bed. It was approaching 9pm but as we approached the village we suddenly came across two adults boar with a large litter of at least 10 piglets. The piglets are rather sweet being very small and striped.
If allowed to spread, wild boar will transform the areas of woodland in the UK into a far healthier state as well as potentially creating a supply of ready meat to be hunted. Importantly though it also forms a wonderful additional income to a local area. They are a worthwhile tourist interest. Below I will link several places to stay in the vicinity.