Hopewell is a working small colliery, owned and operated by one the Forest of Dean's last remaining 'free-miners', who also gives short guided tours of a small part of the extensive workings. He tells you all about how they mine the coal and explains what conditions were like for families working down there years ago - grim and very sobering!
This is not a sanitised, museum type attraction, it is a real colliery and there are no frills. You have to get kitted out in a helmet with a torch and battery pack - which our eight-year old loved - and once in the tunnels proper, the walk down is dark and a bit steep. It would also be advisable to wear suitable footwear (not heels,flip-flops) as it can be wet and slippy down there - there is an underground stream! You normally leave via a tunnel which comes out lower in the hillside but it was raining so hard when we were there in early June, that we were taken back up the way we came to stay in the dry.
This place is great for active families, although I wouldn't recommend it for young kids, younger than around seven (unless they are very well behaved), the infirm elderly or anyone with mobility problems - being very tall could also be a problem ,if you can't bend.
Rob is a really interesting, friendly and talkative guy and you can't help but be impressed with the sheer amount hard work he puts into this colliery - especially as he's in his 70's. He makes very little money from the tours and keeps the place open as he is passionate about keeping the tradition alive. He deserves so much more support with this and it seems like exactly the sort of place which should get lottery funding. If you want to help make it a success, go and visit! You'll remember it!
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