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St. Anthony's Well is a must-visit if you are staying at our self-catering holiday cottage to let at Green Bottom. A delightful spot, it is an easy walk of about half a mile through the forest. Or, if you fancy a circular walk, there are at least two alternative ways to walk to it depending on what you want to see on the way. We walk it frequently with our cat, Misty and our dog, Poppy.
St. Anthony's Well is of some historical interest. In his book "The Forest of Dean" H. G. Nicholls writes, in 1858:
A further trace of the same period [pre 1541 when the abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII] is also to be found at the head of one of the brooks feeding the stream which descends the Flaxley valley, called St. Anthony‘s Well, and which, from its supposed medicinal properties, was until late years widely famed for curing cutaneous disorders, although under circumstances somewhat connected with the marvellous, its peculiar efficacy being combined with the rising of the sun, the month of May, and the visits to it being repeated nine times in succession. However, after due allowance for some exaggeration, there remains ample proof of the utility of its waters in removing diseases of the skin. The square basin or reservoir of stone immediately adjoining the head of the spring was made at the commencement of this century for the convenience of bathers, and occupies a very secluded position, overshadowed by a large beech-tree, and closed round with mossy banks. The water is abundant in quantity, and contains iron and lime, derived from the strata through which it percolates. The general temperature is 50°.
The short route to the well is along the track marked in green on the map. Two other routes are shown in red and blue. The photographic 'walkalog' takes you first along the green route then along the red route and back via the blue route.
All of the walks start at our cottage, point 1 on the map.
The path is coloured green on the map above. Notice the crosspaths, photo 2 above, where the blue path rejoins the direct route. This is also the start of the path to Cinderford. Point 2 on the map.
There are two main springs as shown on the map. These can be seen separately entering the pond, photo 6. One stream of left, other on right. But there is also, at wet times, a third spring between these two, photo 12 above - the bed was a bit too damp for Misty's liking in early October 2000 when the photos were taken.
In the H. G. Nicholls' book The Forest of Dean, there is a drawing of the well as it then appeared:
There is a good growth of Wood bittercress around the pond: it's good in salads. See the Food for Free www site.
The red route on the map above starts along the road. There is no official footpath parallel to the road, through the fields to the east, but they are open and one could go up to Tibbscross and enters the field there. Field is separated from road by a wooded ditch. We entered the field via a gate at point 7 on the map (photo 14) and walked through the field to point 8 where there is another gate. This field is used for off-road vehicle activity.
At point 8 on the map the ditch, which is mostly underground through this field, has surfaced and there is a good growth of watercress (see Food for Free page on Watercress). Note that this field often contains sheep and cows, so be aware of the dangers of eating wild watercress!
From the gate cross the road and enter Lower Spout Lane which runs alongside the Flaxley Brook. Photo 19. On the right is a conference centre in the grounds of which is a ruin - clearly one of the mills which once were so frequent along the Flaxley Brook. Link is to a reprint from the Gloucester Society for Industrial Archeology. Probably site 18 from that reprint, one of the Guns Mills.
Just above and to the south of St Anthony's Well is a forest clearing (point 11 on the map) that is clearly used for parties and barbecues. Photo 21. The path back to Green Bottom (blue on the map) starts here, photo 22.
This path is not clearly delineated and there are several other paths confusing it. However we found the return path easily simply by following a compass bearing south-east by south. The path passes the east end of the old collecting tank, now a trout and salmon hatchery, at the old Green Bottom pumping station before turning east and rejoining the main footpath.
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