Mystery ‘most magical woodland’ has featured in Star Wars and Doctor Who

A mysterious English wood has been inspiring the most iconic sci-fi and fantasy franchises for decades because of its supernatural appearance.

With its labyrinth of unusual cave formations and moss-covered trees, Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, has provided a magical setting for many on-screen stories throughout the years.

The “enchanted” forest has starred in a number of famous TV shows and blockbuster hits, from regular appearances in Doctor Who and Merlin on the small screen to Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the big screen.

Star Wars producer and president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, once described the wood as “the most magical forest on the face of the earth”.

The magical wood is said to have inspired some of history’s most famous fantasy stories (

Getty Images / GuyBerresfordPhotography)

Puzzlewood is said to have inspired countless more otherworldly stories, and rumour even has it that the mystical wood was the inspiration behind author JRR Tolkein’s creation of the forests of Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings.

Rocky features called scowles give Puzzlewood its unique appearance, resulting from ancient underground cave systems being exposed to the surface over centuries. Treasures thousands of years old have been found in the scowles of Puzzlewood, including a hoard of three thousand Roman coins dating back to 3BC.

The wood is home to a rich variety of trees, including oak, beech, ash, lime and yew, which causes the fantastical landscape to take on different looks throughout the year. Spring sees the wood carpeted in bluebells, while summer sees ferns spring up and autumn brings out mushrooms on the trees.

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Puzzlewood is also home to various wildlife, from deer, badgers, foxes and rabbits to bats that come out after dark. It’s also an ideal place to visit for keen birdwatchers, providing a home for several species including woodpeckers, wrens and warblers.

The wood also has a menagerie where visitors can see donkeys, Shetland ponies, Highland cattle, sheep, ducks and rabbits.

Visitors can take the mile-and-a-half trek of paths and bridges through the wood, walking in the footsteps of famous characters from Jedi Masters to Time Lords. The Puzzlewood website promises that “its magic will cast a spell to entice you back time and time again”.