The Wye Valley is home to one of the finest woodlands in Britain, some of the most atmospheric ruins, and several rare wildlife species. It has been popular with visitors from Victorian times but it’s rarely crowded, and the position on the southern border between Wales and England makes it very easy to get to by car or by train.
The area is best known for gentle walking along the banks of the Wye and in the wooded hills on either side. Several long distance footpaths wind through it- Offa’s Dyke Path is probably the most famous but the Wye Valley walk is just as spectacular. It runs from Chepstow all the way up to the river’s source in the hills of Mid Wales, 136 miles away. Day walkers will find plenty to see too, from the high crags of Symonds Yat Rock to Tintern Abbey. There are castles, caves, traditional pubs, and panoramic hillside views.
Tintern is a typical Wye Valley town. It’s perfectly picturesque, from the restored water wheel to the village cricket green to the Old Station- once a stop on the Victorian rail line, the Old Station has been transformed into a museum and picnic spot. It was recently voted Britain’s favourite park. The Abbey lies right beside the river on the edge of town. The ornate arches of the Cistercian monastery really make this ruin stand out from the crowd and it’s hard not to be impressed by their huge scale alone.
If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling than a walk or a picnic, canoe and kayak hire is available at Symonds Yat or Ross-on-Wye. Rock climbers come to the Wye Valley from across the UK but complete beginners are welcome at the local adventure schools. There are a wide variety of ways to enjoy this part of the world.
Even a casual wanderer will almost certainly see some kind of wildlife, even if it’s only the swans on the river. Lucky ones might also see kingfishers or catch a glimpse of a shy otter. Those that venture into the woods might spot roe, fallow, or red deer, peregrine falcons, and even wild boar and polecats.