“Small hill coming, left turn, now PEDAL!” It’s strange the sort of conversation you have when riding a tandem, especially considering that all I can see of my ‘pilot’ – as 
the front rider is known – is his arse.

When choosing who to ride with, it’s best to pick someone you trust, especially if you’re letting them lead. If you’re playing the part of ‘stoker’, or the one on the back, ultimately all you are is a dumb pair of legs. The pilot is the one making all the decisions. More importantly, though, make sure your frontman has a nice butt, as that’s all you’re going to see for the duration of your ride.

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%TNT Magazine% tandem biking

We’re on a downhill section now, and this is where having two riders together on one bike comes into its own. We are flying. Trees whip past as we careen down the trail, barely in control. I’m relieved that we’re on the Forest of Dean’s cycling trails, well away from traffic.

After all, stick two people together on the same bike and there are going to be teething problems. Both sets of pedals are linked, so the two riders have to pedal (or not) at exactly the same time. For the stoker, it’s tempting to lean into corners, a no-no for balance, while the pilot’s job is steering. We’ve already fallen off once, thanks to a wobbly start, followed by me pulling my feet off the pedals in panic. I reckon we’ve (largely) got it sussed now, though, and the signposted paths winding through the dense verdure of this royal forest are huge amounts of fun.

There’s something really sociable about sharing a bike. Instead of having to yell at each other as the wind tears our voices away, we’re cocooned in our own intimate bubble where chatting is easy. On the back, it’s a bit of a magical mystery tour; I can see to my sides, but that’s pretty much it, while, up front, my mate is having to do all the steering (and, truth be told, most of the pedalling work).

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%TNT Magazine% sculpture trail

Riding tandem is just one of various unusual ways to enjoy the Forest of Dean, tucked away on the border between Wales and England. I have also wandered the forest’s rather cool Sculpture Trail, which makes a walk in the woods that bit more interesting.

Opened in 1986, the 3.5-mile trail lies in the centre of the forest, and is scattered with sizeable sculptures created by different artists – of which more are regularly added. The newest, David Cotterrell’s Hill33, is reminiscent of a Mayan temple rising from the trees and Annie Cattrell’s Echo is cast from 310-million year-old chunks of rock.

The trail encourages the walker to venture deeper into the woods, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumb trail, but less evil.

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%TNT Magazine% llama trekking

Still, for interesting walks, it’s hard to beat ambling along the River Wye with a llama in tow. There’s a herd of them here, and even a few camels, that you can take out for a day’s stroll. They’ll keep you company and even carry your bag for you.

Moira and Alastair Fraser, who run Severn Wye Llama trekking, explain: “After 5000 years as a beast of burden in the Andes, the llama is your ideal walking companion. They provide quiet, stable, environmentally friendly companionship during your walking day.”

Far from their bad-tempered reputation, the animals are actually very cute and quite patient. Apparently they only spit when you really upset them. Bit like people, really.

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%TNT Magazine% canoe wye

The River Wye itself is one of the cleanest rivers in Britain. A multi-day canoe safari is a brilliant way to see the area, and you can stay in a tipi along the way, if you like. There’s also Symond’s Yat, a well-known rock-climbing area and 
a great place to spot peregrine falcons, which 
the area is known for.

There’s nothing for it – I’m just going to have to come back and sample more of the Forest of Dean’s weird and wonderful days out. Maybe I’ll let a camel carry my bag next time.

Tandem hire is £30 for a full day or £20 for 4hrs  forestbikes.com Llama trekking costs £40pp, which includes two llamas for 5hrs
 severnwyellamatrekking.co.uk Canoe hire from £12 for 1hr
 canoethewye.co.uk A tipi for one night with two days of canoeing for five-to-six people is £450  tipiadventure.co.uk

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%TNT Magazine% tipi forest dean

Getting there

The Forest of Dean can be accessed in less than 3hrs by car from London, along the M4 and M48. Train tickets between London Paddington and Lydney cost from £12.50 each way. (firstgreatwestern.co.uk)

Where to eat

In the middle of the forest, and easy to find from the cycle trails, Gaveller’s Café, Beechenhurst Lodge does cream teas, homemade cakes, bacon butties, chips, burgers and the like. Don’t expect to spend more than about £4pp. (gavellerscafe.co.uk)

Positioned right on the cycling trails and near the mountain biking area, the Pedalabikeaway Cafe serves up pizza and pasties for about £2-£5. (pedalabikeaway.co.uk)

Where to drink

A short drive from the main forest area, down the road from Coleford, The Boat has 
a stunning riverside beer garden (with waterfall) and live music on 
a Thursday evening. Local ales from £2.90 a pint. (theboatpenallt.co.uk)

The rustic atmosphere at The Fountain Inn & Lodge is best enjoyed with a few ales, from a refreshing £2.10 a pint. 

Where to sleep

Stay in a luxury tipi in the Wye Valley with Tipi Adventure. Each tipi sleeps seven and comes with a toilet. From £180pn. (tipiadventure.co.uk)

A short distance from the main cycling area and in the forest, The Fountain Inn & Lodge has bunkhouses from £11pppn. (fountaininnandlodge.co.uk)