Visitors to the Dean Forest Railway can ride between Lydney and Parkend, a distance of 6.8 km, along the course of the Severn & Wye Railway, opened in 1810. It was initially built with stone sleeper blocks, some of which can be seen in walls in Lydney Harbour, and wagons were drawn by horses, but in the mid-nineteenth century it became part of the Great Western Railway and was operated as a conventional branch line. Its purpose was to carry coal from mines in the Forest of Dean to Lydney on the Severn Estuary where it was loaded on to ships. It is easily possible to walk on the former trackbed from Lydney station, the present terminus, to the harbour, from where there are magnificent views over the Estuary.
The Dean Forest Railway Society formed in 1970, has owned the line since 1984, and operates five stations.
Lydney Junction is the headquarters of the Dean Forest Diesel Association which has workshops where diesel locomotives are restored. The main station is Norchard where the railway itself has its workshops, and where there is a museum with many small artefacts relating to the history of railways, nameplates, number plates, timetables and signalling apparatus. The terminus at Parkend is starting point for walks in the Forest.
The railway’s principal locomotive is a Great Western 2-6-2T tank engine, of the type used on many branch lines, but there are also examples of ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST shunters, built during the Second World War, a diesel multiple unit of the 1950s, and some class 14 diesel locomotives, widely known as ‘Teddy Bears’.