Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hiking the Wye Valley

The River Wye is the 5th longest river in the UK and it winds its way through the beautiful valleys and countryside of Herefordshire including some Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

There is a very popular 'Wye Valley Walk' which runs from Chepstow to Pumlumon and which takes in a large swathe of rural Herefordshire. The route is 136 miles long and straddles the border between England and Wales, it can be a bit hard going in parts but would probably be classed as an easy grade walk for most hikers.

Hikers and walkers will find plenty of bed and breakfasts in Herefordshire along the way (Herefordshire being the central part of the route). Herefordshire bed and breakfasts vary in price and you can expect to pay up to £90 for a double room. For the slightly better equipped hikers, campsites are plentiful along the Wye Valley route and are never far from the river's edge.

Places of Interest
The Wye Valley route is nearly all rural with only a few towns/villages, and one (small) city, to break up the country landscapes.

Chepstow sits at the bottom of the route and is a quaint town with a large castle and picturesque streets. Near to Chepstow is the historic and touristic Tintern Abbey. Further up stream is the old market town of Monmouth, which is attractive and has some great independent shops to visit.

The walk then follows what used to be the old steam railway route along the river up to Symonds Yat. Symonds Yat nestles on western side of the Forest of Dean and is popular for canoeists, rock climbers, cyclists, hikers, bird watchers, fishermen and cavers. It is classed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with rapids, viewpoint high above the valley and an ox-bow bend in the river which is clearly visible from Symonds Yat Rock.

The magnificent medieval Goodrich Castle perches above the Wye mid way between Ross On Wye and Whitchurch. Here there is the old Flanesford Priory and Kerne Bridge, a hidden, and long disused railway tunnel is situated nearby which runs deep beneath the fern covered Coppets Hill.

Ross On Wye is another picturesque market town with ancient market place and is steeped in history with antique shops and rural farming atmosphere.

The route between Ross and Hereford city is winding and very rural with farmland either side of the Wye. Hereford itself is an intriguing city which is dominated by the enormous Hereford Cathedral with 'Mapa Mundi' (a spiritual as well as geographical map of the medieval world).

From here the Wye continues up to Hay On Wye, sometimes referred to as the 'Book Capital of The World. Hay is a most beautiful border town with a festival of literature which takes place annually. The route beyond this becomes even more tranquil as the river gradually becomes more of a stream deep into the Welsh countryside.

Fauna and Flora
The animal life of the Wye Valley is rich. Salmon and trout can be fished for in parts of the Wye and if you are lucky you may catch glimpse of a predatory Pike. 

Deer, fox and badger and rabbit are all friends of the river valleys as well as mink. According to the Environment Agency, in selected parts of the Wye, the lovable otter is once again thriving.

There are many varieties of tree in the Wye Valley and perhaps the most beautiful example of ancient British woodland is the stretch of river from Monmouth to Symonds Yat. Here the forests almost crowd the river. You can find fir, yew, beech and oak woods to name but a few amongst the dense woodlands.

The Wye Valley teems with bird life. From peregrines and other birds of prey such as buzzards to all varieties of woodpeckers, kingfishers to mute swans, cormorants and grey herons to night-jars and dippers. All these birds make the Wye Valley their home and a hiker is most likely to see at least some of these birds on route.
If you're looking for a lengthy but tranquil walk then the Wye Valley is superb and will offer some stunning scenery and interesting wildlife for those willing to venture along the river's trail.

The Wye Valley is Britain at its very best!


  1. Walking the the Wye Valley is a great place to spend if you want a quiet break in the UK.

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I couldn't find a contact page on the blog so I'll have to ask you here.

    Do you participate in guest posts/articles? If you do what are your submission guidelines?

    Look forward to hearing from you!


    World of Camping

    1. Good point, we need a contact page :(

      Drop an email to me catherineday(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

  3. Game fish such as largemouth bass, green sunfish, boat trailer rental