Picture courtesy of Visit Wales
Revered by poets, artists and writers since the 18th century, nowadays the Wye Valleyhas become a haven for walkers from across the world and it’s not hard to imagine why. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the River Wye sets a stunning backdrop to the magnificent rolling Welsh hills, and has been described as the most beautiful river in Wales, possibly England as well. Over the years we’ve been offering holiday cottages in this region, we’ve taken the time to get to know these parts better and better and each time we return, we come away with a clearer understanding of why so many of you like to come here and walk. And yet it still remains relatively undiscovered.
Here at Manor Cottages we’re delighted to be able to offer a selection of cottages all within easy reach of the Wye and we hope that you’ll take the time to understand (if you haven’t been before) why we think you would enjoy a break to this stunning yet unspoilt part of the UK. As well as providing awe-inspiring views, the Wye Valley also plays an important part in the upkeep of conservation and the preservation of plants and wildlife. It’s no wonder that the Wye Valley is now a choice to consider for ramblers and nature lovers alike and we think you should give it serious consideration too!
Where and Why the Wye?!
The River Wye’ source is in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon in mid-Wales, and flows through some of the most breath taking scenery in Wales and the English borders, before emptying into the Severn Estuary. The River Wye passes through several provincial towns, including Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Symonds Yat, Tintern and Monmouth. Its journey takes it from the top of the steepest Welsh hills, through sleepy villages, where it then meanders around pastures and meadows, ancient woodlands and orchards, gauging a path through valleys, finally ending up in the sea. Although not unusual, its twists and turns through the countryside give it a beautiful and attractive feel – and one which Geography field trips regularly given its classic river characteristics. Do you remember Ox-bow lakes?!
What is on or near the Wye?
Walks in the Wye Valley are not just all about nature and wildlife however, as by following the course of the river, visitors to this area have a great opportunity to see some of the country’s oldest towns. Popular destinations include Hereford Cathedral, which houses the Mappa Mundi, the world’s largest medieval map, and there are also historic market towns such as Rhayader, Builth Wells, and Chepstow. Book lovers should visit Hay-on-Wye, a small town in Powys which is known as ‘the town of books’, thanks to the established literary festival held there, and visitors to Monmouth can check out the Monnow Bridge Gate, the only surviving example of a medieval fortified bridge gate. For the historians amongst us, the ruins of Tintern Abbey, in which the Victorian diarist Rev Francis Kilvert stayed, is a must visit, and there’s also the town of Gilfach, set in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains and featuring a renovated medieval longhouse, an ancient farm building which used to house both the farmers and their animals.
Walks and Wordsworth
As for set walks, why not let Wordsworth be your guide, as you follow in his footsteps by taking in the Wye Valley Walk, starting at Chepstow Castle, before ending up at Hafren Forest. This 137-mile walk takes in the unspoilt beauty of the Welsh countryside, including ancient moorlands, rocky gorges, protected meadows and rolling hills. For the super fit amongst you, there is a guided 12-day trip where you can complete the whole walk, check out wyevalleywalk.org for more information.
If you are simply after a relaxing stroll that’s a little less challenging, the Chepstow Riverside Walk is a 30-minute walk that takes in the same lush scenery as the Wye valley Walk. And travellers should not forget that the River Wye passes alongside the Brecon Beacons, a National Park home to forests, market towns, waterfalls and includes Pen-y-Fan, which is the highest peak in southern Britain and famous as one of the gruelling tests for army and even SAS soldiers.
The Wye Valley offers such a wide variety of interests, from viewing stunning landscapes, to marvelling at the historic provenance of ancient buildings. So whether you are a nature lover, an aficionado of all things ancient, or simply like to wander around the open spaces and relax for a few hours, the Wye Valley really does have it all.
Self catering Wye Valley Holiday cottages are located across the region including Ferryside at Symonds Yat, the historic Game Larder or the spacious Gumstalls Barn. To view our choice please click the link.