The Wye Valley has a wealth of pretty rural villages, with intriguing local churches, interesting glimpses of history, local pubs offering mouth-watering local fare, and village stores selling local wares. The market towns within or adjacent to its borders provide museums, art galleries, local craft, art and history displays and festivals, and the chance to shop and browse to your heart’s content. Here are some ideas for places to visit, but for more information and to plan your visit contact the relevant Tourist Information Centre.
An old walled city, dating from Saxon times, Hereford is now a hub of local and national cultural events. It is also the area’s livestock and agricultural centre. Visit Hereford Cathedral to see some fine examples of architecture from Norman times to the present day. View the famous Mappa Mundi and the world’s largest Chained Library. The cathedral also hosts regular exhibitions, recitals and concerts. Within walking distance is the Hereford Cider Museum and King Offa Distillery and the restored Waterworks Museum
Market Days: Wednesday, Livestock; Wednesday/Saturday, General
Ross-on-Wye is the only town within the boundaries of the Wye Valley AONB. An historic market town, it is built on a cliff overlooking a large loop in the river. Visit St Mary’s Church, the nearby Prospect Gardens, and the Market House Heritage Centre. Stroll around the town centre or meander along the riverside. Follow the John Kyrle Walk and find out more about the life and good works of “The Man of Ross”, whose title was immortalised by the poet Pope.
Market Days: Monday, Livestock; Thursday/Saturday, General
A market town adjacent to the Wye Valley AONB, one of Monmouth’s gems is the unique medieval gatehouse on the 13th Century Monnow Bridge. The streets are filled with a variety interesting shops and a wide choice of pubs, restaurants and café’s. Monmouth Castle, now ruined, was the birthplace of King Henry V, the victor of Agincourt visit the Castle and Regimental Museum which tells the histories of both the castle and The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers. Nearby, the Nelson Museum is also a local history centre and houses one of the world’s best collections of personal and commemorative objects associated with the famous admiral. In the centre of Agincourt Square is the refurbished Shire Hall, whose courthouse held the famous Chartist Trials of 1839. High above the valley overlooking Monmouth town sits the Kymin, a circular banqueting house and naval temple now a National Trust property.
Market Days: Friday/Saturday, General
The attractive market town of Coleford is surrounded by industrial history. Visit nearby Puzzlewood to explore ancient iron surface mines, referred to locally as Scowles, which pre-date the Roman period. Go underground to visit the ancient iron mines at Clearwell, still mined to this day to produce ochre for artists.You can also visit a working mine at Hopewell Colliery The Forest's railway history is on show at the Great Western Railway Museum, based in the original GWR goods station at Old Station Way, Coleford. The town itself has some interesting historic buildings and a selection of craft and specialist shops. Near to Coleford
Market Days: Coleford: Thursday, General
A bustling border market town Chepstow is the gateway to the Wye Valley AONB. Spend some time exploring the winding back streets with a variety of shops, restaurants and cafés, and take in the old town walls and the 15th Century gatehouse. Dominating the town, Chepstow Castle perches high on a crag guarding the river crossing between England and Wales. Chepstow Museum, displays the history and development of the town, once an important port and features the Wye Tour exhibition. There are regular race meetings at nearby Chepstow Racecourse, home of the Welsh National, which is situated within the grounds of historic Piercefield Park. Famous views from the Wye Valley Walk section from Chepstow lead you along th Piercefield Walks and stunning viewpoints such as The Alcove and Eagles Nest refurbished by the Overlooking the Wye Partnership Project.
Market Days: Chepstow:(Race course car park): Sunday, General
A picture postcard rural Herefordshire village with Church of All Saints, completed in 1902 which is one of the very few thatched churches in the UK. This impressive Arts and Crafts building houses tapestries by Burne Jones. The Wye Valley Walk passes by the village to the iron-age fort of Capler Camp.
A former shipbuilding community, the village has an interesting Moravian Church, built in 1832. The Brockweir Community Village Shop, which stocks local produce, also has a tea-room providing light refreshments. Brockweir Quay used to be a regular port where goods were unloaded and taken up the Wye by trows. The quay has been renovated by the Overlooking the Wye Partnership Project. Brockweir Bridge was built in 1906, until then people wishing to cross the river had to rely on a ferry service. Offa's Dyke Path National Trail and the Wye Valley Walk pass either side of the bridge
A village on the outskirts of Ross-on-Wye, with easy access to the Wye Valley Walk. The picturesque Norman church of St. Michael has a square bell cot of timber in shingle-work.
A secluded rural village, near the River Wye. Its picturesque, timber-framed, thatched inn, The Cottage of Content, dates from the 15th Century.
Near the village of Devauden, Chepstow Park Wood, owned by the Forestry Commission, provides good walking opportunities. John Wesley preached his first sermon in Wales in 1739 at the foot of Devauden Hill and the area was the scene of a battle in 743 when the Welsh were slaughtered by the Saxon kings Ethelbald of Mercia and Cuthred of Wessex.
Foy and Hole in the Wall
A single span suspension bridge, built in 1919, links these two riverside hamlets. The little church of St Mary at Foy stands beside an 18th Century vicarage.
A pretty village situated close to the river, between the hilltop camps of Cherry Hill and Capler Camp. It has an attractive church with a central Norman tower. Fownhope is one of the few to retain the custom of celebrating Oak Apple Day each May.
A village in an idyllic setting dominated by its remarkable Italianate Church, dating from 1885. Hoarwithy has an old pub the New Harp Inn
The site of Holme Lacy College, Herefordshire’s Agricultural College, and Holme Lacy House (now a hotel), seat of the Scudamore family for centuries. Holme Lacy Estate is a working organic farm, and its woodlands and medieval deer park are now being managed for their exceptional wildlife interest. Footpaths and tracks for walkers, riders and cyclists have opened up this area to visitors. Also in the village is Shipley Gardens with its nursery and tea rooms.
The beautiful red sandstone church of St John the Baptist stands on high ground beside the medieval Castle Tump, site of a motte and bailey castle.
A village surrounded by wonderful woodland and riverside walks. Paths zigzag alongside Cleddon Shoots, and the Wye Valley Walk leads above the village. Llandogo was once an important river port, and its pub, The Sloop Inn, owes its name to this. Flat-bottomed barges known as trows, which worked the river between here and Bristol, gave name to the 17th Century Llandoger Trow, a public house near the city’s harbour.
A village on the Trellech plateau, benefiting from views of the Vale of Usk and the Black Mountains. The Church of St Dennis was rebuilt in 1852.
An important industrial port in the 17th and 18th Centuries with a traditional connection with the iron, coal and timber industries, although much of the evidence of this has long disappeared. Not even the famous Lower Lydbrook Viaduct remains which enabled the Severn and Wye Railway to connect with the Ross and Monmouth Railway. The viaduct rose some 87 feet above the roadway below, was built in 1872 and first used for traffic 26 August 1874. The line was closed to passengers in 1929, goods in 1951 and was dismantled in 1966.
Mitchel Troy is sandwiched between the River Trothy to the north and the Wye to the east, and the site of The Glen Trothy caravan and campsite. The church of St Michael was built in the early thirteenth century and is approached through an arched lych gate. Mitchel Troy Common provides views over the town of Monmouth and the river Wye.
This village, with its legendary dragon or wyvern, grew up around an ancient ford over the River Lugg. Follow the Mordiford Loop Walk to discover this atmospheric landscape. Nearby is Sufton Court, a small Palladian mansion set in parkland.
A village with an interesting history, Redbrook was an important industrial centre . Strung along the River Wye it had an ample supply of water power which ran down the valley to the river and a number of leats, dams and reservoir ponds were created with many industrial sites including mills, an iron furnace, tinplate works and copper works. The Penallt Viaduct, crossing to The Boat Inn, originally a hostelry for river watermen, was formerly an iron bridge opened in 1876 for the Wye Valley Railway.
A small village, with the Norman church All Saints Church, Staunton was named “the place of the stones” by the Anglo-Saxons. From here you can visit the Buck Stone,above Staunton Meend in Highmeadow Woods, a popular, panoramic viewpoint. Local legend claims it was a sacred Druid site. The Staunton Longstone, a Bronze Age standing stone, can be seen alongside the A4136, between Staunton and Coleford. Other megaliths are the Toad's Mouth, by the road at the west end of the village, the Broad Stone, in the fields of Broadstone farm, and the Suckstone in Highmeadow Woods.
On a plateau high above the Wye Valley, St Briavels commands spectacular views. Its 12th century castle, now used as a youth hostel, was the administrative centre of the Royal Hunting Forest. Across the road, the Norman church is also worth exploring.
The village, dominated by the spectacular remains of Tintern Abbey, is also worth visiting for its craft and antique shops, and even to delve into its hidden past as one of the earliest major industrial sites in South Wales. About a mile to the north of the village, The Old Station,Tintern is a former Victorian railway station. It now operates as a visitor centre and has an interesting programme of events and exhibitions. Discover its unique circle of life-size wooden sculptures, depicting characters from the history of the area.
Once the largest mediaeval centres in Wales Trellech has its fair share of history and legend, surrounding its church, three standing stones, officially known as Harold’s Stones, and St Anne’s Well, or the Virtuous Well. It has been undergoing excavations since 2005 by the Lost City of Trellech Project. The village also has The Lion Inn providing refreshments.
A Herefordshire village with a St Margarets a small Victorian Church, Welsh Bicknor stands on a hill overlooking Kerne Bridge. Across the river is English Bicknor in Gloucestershire, with its small Norman church, within the boundaries of a motte and bailey castle.
Right on the riverbank, with its own landing steps, the parish church of St Dubricius dates from the 13th Century, although its foundations go back even further, to the 9th Century. Near the village, on the Doward, is King Arthur’s Cave. The Old Court, now a hotel and restaurant The concert venue Wyastone Leys is close by which is where Nimbus records originated.
The stream to which the village owes its name provided power for paper mills in the 18th Century. The Crown at Whitebrook is one of Wales well known Michelin starred restaurants. A mile below the village, Bigsweir Bridge, originally a toll bridge, crosses the River Wye.
On the border of the AONB, this village stands on the plateau of the Woolhope Dome, in an area with a great variety of fossils, flora and fauna.
A partnership between the AONB Unit, Ross-on-Wye Town Council and Natural England have started tree management work on the banks of the Wye where it passes through Ross, to benefit biodiversity and create river views.
If you are 14-18 years old and love exploring the countryside of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, then the Wye Valley AONB Youth Ranger programme is looking for you! Come along to our Taster Day on September 30th.