The Cannop Valley, Forest of Dean

The Cannop brook is one of the three main streams flowing out of the Forest of Dean. I say 'main' advisedly, for it is quite a small stream, but the valley is not without interest! The brook drains the very centre of the forest, flowing due south parallel to the B4234 to Parkend, and Whitecroft. At some poorly defined point the brook changes its name to The Lyd and flows on south to Lydney, reaching the Severn estuary via Lydney harbour. See Cannop Colliery, below.

Geologically the Cannop Valley is interesting as it is a fault zone of some 25 small faults in a belt about 400 metres wide and about 8 km long. There seems to be little evidence on these faults on the surface as it is a heavily forested area. Much of it seems to have been originally raised above the original strata, yet it is now lower, as the brook follows the fault belt quite accurately. Probably the result of glacial erosion, I suspect.

The Forest of Dean coal seams also run parallel to the fault as they reach the surface, so many coal mines were once present along the valley, and to the north of the valley. In consequence one of the first railway tracks was laid down the valley. The track is visible on the early OS map (c. 1830): it starts at Map ref 666095 near Soudeley and follows the line of the Soudley brook northwards, serving Cinderford Ironworks before turning west along Serridge Green, parallel to the coal seams, then turning south with the coal seams along Cannop valley. I may put up a map showing the course of this railway: contact me if you are interested.

Later in the area's history the northern section of the line was rebuilt a kM or so to the south where today it, with the Cannop section, forms the modern cycle track. Most visitors to the Cannop valley will probably adhere to the railway line, missing most of the interesting archaeology and botany of the valley.

Cannop Colliery

Cannop colliery, near the centre of the Forest of Dean, was a deep coal mine.

Cannop Colliery (66k)

The photo above an old photograph of the Cannop Colliery from www.SunGreen.co.uk. Clicking on it will take you to SunGreen's www site for more old photos.
The old colliery is now mostly a council depot, but PedalbikeAway also operate from here.
The old railways are now the cycle track.
The cottages are now holiday lets. Photos 12, 13, 14.
The old spoil heaps are used for BMX biking. Photo 7.

Photographs of the Cannop Valley

The photos beneath were all taken in the Cannop Valley, Easter 2009 (11th May to 18th May). They are arranged approximately north to south and show the early spring woods, scenery and flora.

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium on Canop Channel
1. Golden saxifrage
on Cannop brook concrete channel
Cannop brook concrete Channel
2. Concrete channel of Cannop brook
Golden Saxifrage in Cannop Valley
3. Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
upper Cannop brook
See note #1 below re concrete channels, Photos 1, 2 and 4.
Cannop brook concrete Channel
4. Concrete channel of Cannop brook
Cannop Brook
5. Cannop Brook
Cannop Woods
6. Cannop woods
Cannop Colliery Pond
7. Pond near Cannop Colliery
Cannop Colliery Spoil heap
8. Old spoil heap at Cannop colliery
Cannop Colliery Spoil heap
9. Back of old spoil heap at Cannop colliery
Photo 7: See note #2.
See note 3 re spoil heaps
[image 7/10_CannopPonds/jpeg]
10. Cannop brook entering Cannop ponds
CannopPonds, North
11. Cannop ponds: North pond
CannopPonds, South
12. Cannop ponds:
Picnic area and South pond from causeway
See note 4 about Cannop ponds. Photos 10-13
CannopPonds/jpeg
13. Cannop ponds: view south from causeway
[image 11/14_Cottages+Bluebells/jpeg]
14. Cannop cottages
[image 12/15_Oaks/jpeg]
15. Oak trees from Cannop cottages
See note 5 about Cannop Cottages.
[image 13/16_ForestSheep/jpeg]
16. Sheep in garden
Ranunculus Ficaria
17. Celandine
Vaccinium Myrtillus
18. Bilberry bushes in early spring
A rather pretty dark-leaved celandineLater in the year, the area should be good for bilberries!

Notes:

#1. Concrete channels
The top end of Cannop Brook runs in visually unattractive concrete channels. These were built because, in that area, water percolated through the various faults into Cannop Colliery, so the channels were built to line the brook and reduce seepage. There is an interesting reprint of an article on these channels, from the G.S.I.A.
The channels are now, in places, naturalised by ferns, mosses and various water-loving plants such as Golden saxifrage and wood bittercress. The golden carpet of saxifrage can be seen above the tunnel in photo 2: this carpet is shown in more detail in photo 3.

#2. Cannop Colliery pond
is concrete lined and was a cooling pond for part of the old colliery (though it doesn't show up in the old photo at top of page). In the background can be seen the entrance to the old colliery.

(Friday the 4th of March, 2011) David Morris emailed to inform me:

The concrete lined pond mentioned in your article was part of the Cannop colliery. Across the road was a large pond with "fountains" that sprayed water to cool it. This water ran in a conduit under the road to emerge into the concrete trough that runs down the side of the pond. This was known in my day (50's) as the Cannop lido and was a popular swimming hole. The water running down this trough was warm and a favourite with parents with young children. the water was about 2-3 inches deep with a gentle flow down to where it entered the pond. The Cannop brook entered the pond in the corner opposite the sluice gates. I would suggest that at this point the brook became the river Lyd. This is not a historical statement but the waterway at Speech House Rd station was referred to as the river Lyd. I hope you find this bit of information interesting. I might add I learnt to swim in this pond.

David was the son of the station master of Cannop station from around 1950 to 1962.

#3. Old spoil heaps
behind the colliery are visible on the old photograph. They are now forested and used for bmx biking.

#4. Cannop ponds
are now a picnic site accessed from the north along the old railway track. There are two ponds, with a causeway between them. The south pond is the picnic site so is maintained, but the north has been allowed to silt up and the north end of it is now a wet woodland area, presumably maintained as a wildlife area and all the more interesting as a result!

#5. The old miner's cottages
visible in left foreground of the old photograph, still exist in much the same condition.They are now (mostly) holiday cottages. Photos 14, 15 and 16. Apparently we left the gate not properly closed and the sheep, which roan freely throughout the Forest of Dean, were quick to discover this!
The woods at the back of the cottages are thick with bluebells. In the shadier valleys of the forest they are the last to flower, but the greenery in photo 14 is almost entirely bluebells. You can barely walk through the woods at the back of the cottages without crushing a number of them!

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Page first published: Friday the 17th of July, 2009
Last modified: Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:31:26 GMT
Written by and © Richard Torrens.