By following the route of a visitor, an assessment of how the site works from their point of view can be made. First, most people coming there will know about the site without much publicity, and they will probably have an idea of what to expect. Guidebooks, maps and leaflets tell them
about the rock and the view without the need to promote it fully. These are all available from a wide number of sources within the forest, or from tourist information centres, hotels and travel agents.
The approach to the site is through the landscape of the Forest of Dean, which contains villages, small industries and farmland as well as forest. The lanes are narrow and sunken, with occasional views out. It is also possible to arrive along the road that leads up from the Wye valley itself, climbing steeply through trees and small fields. The entrance is well signed, with advance warning signs and a main sign at the entrance designed as part of the Forest Enterprise family of signs, but which also reflects the local area. Hence visitors know that they are at the right place, and that they can turn off safely. (Those coming up from the valley have to use a secondary car park on the left, because the geometry of the
main entrance does not permit a right turn.)
Once on the drive, a short distance is travelled before arriving at a pay-and – display ticket machine. This was introduced to help pay for the upgrading of the site. The percentage of honesty in buying a ticket fluctuates, but there are few sanctions against those who do not pay. Local people may feel less inclined to pay for ‘their site’, while most visitors are happy to do so. The machine is well down the road, and so a queue can build up without backing up too far towards the entrance.
On proceeding down the road, the parking area and the focal area of toilet and path entrances is visible to give some orientation before the driver enters the car park. The initial impression is very attractive, with cars spread out beneath large trees in a spacious area. Terracing and grassy mounds prevent the cars from leaving the bays and help to reduce their impact. Where the road branches, signs are clearly positioned to direct drivers. The surfacing is of local crushed stone, which is well rolled and gives an attractive appearance. The narrow road, slightly rough surface and tight curves encourage drivers to slow down so that a safe atmosphere is engendered. The parking bays are roomy, so that it is easy to remove things from the car. Signs lead the visitors to the toilets and orientation point, so that the immediate needs of comfort and basic information are satisfied before the main attraction is sought. From there the route to the viewpoint is obvious and irresistible. Once it has been visited, there is the chance to buy an ice-cream or souvenir, to rest, picnic or walk another trail. Equally, there is the choice of visiting other sites within the forest, where people can visit lakes, follow a sculpture trail or undertake several other activities.