Greentraveller's Guide to the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Written by Abi Whyte
Artwork for Greentraveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards
Foreword by Andrew Blake, AONB Officer, Wye Valley AONB
In search of picturesque beauty? Then visit the Wye Valley. You’ll find romantic viewpoints that take your breath away, impressive cliff top castles, cultural icons like Offa’s Dyke and fascinating industrial heritage, all within the majestic meandering trail of the River Wye.
The sublime natural beauty of the Wye Valley AONB offers outstanding recreational opportunities, too. History buffs travel from far and wide to marvel at Tintern Abbey; walkers come to eagerly explore the Wye Valley Walk and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail. Thousands come each year to explore the river: keen canoeists take on the most challenging bits of the River Wye; families on fun days out gently paddle downstream on their way to a picnic spot or afternoon tea in welcoming cafes; fly-fishermen spend hundreds of pleasurable hours on its banks. Everyone can experience the river’s beauty from a unique angle.
There is refreshment for the body and the spirit in every corner of the valley… after exploring ancient forests and tranquil riverbanks, nourish yourself further with excellent local produce: Wye Valley beef, lamb, venison, beers, ciders, wine and fruit juices, all produced right here. And when you want to find somewhere to rest your head there are intriguing market towns and villages scattered through the landscape.
From Chepstow to Hereford, 128 square miles of the Wye Valley are declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Adventures in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Antur yn Ardal o Harddwch Naturiol Eithriadol Dyffryn Gwy
What our writers discovered in the Wye Valley AONB
A bewitching area of outstanding natural beauty, the Wye Valley has at its heart the sparkling and meandering Wye River that flows in the AONB from Monmouth to Chepstow. All around the river are magical and ancient woods, majestic monuments and fascinating ruins. Superb walking trails run through the valley, including the Wye Valley Walk and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail. Those who come to appreciate the area’s natural wonders will find a big and friendly welcome in the Valley’s villages and market towns and scores of places to eat, drink and stay that proudly serve superb Wye Valley produce.
As part of our celebration of the eight Welsh Protected Landscapes, Abi Whyte visits the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and cycles along the Peregrine Path to discover an historic market town, the limestone gorge and the majestic river
As part of our celebration of the eight Welsh Protected Landscapes, Abi Whyte walks her favourite stretch of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and finds industrial relics, Cistercian ruins and a view that inspired one of our greatest poets
Stay, Eat, See & Do
Our pick of places across the Wye Valley AONB
Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay
Blue = Places to eat
Yellow = Attractions
Purple = Activities
Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map
- The term ‘Picturesque’ was coined in Wye Valley in the 18th century, starting both British tourism and the concept of conservation.
- The Wye Valley is internationally important for otters, salmon, Greater & Lesser Horseshoe bats and also for its whitebeam trees.
- Ancient ravine woodlands dominate the valley for 18 miles and, along with the River Wye, are internationally protected.
- The Wye is the fourth largest river in England and Wales (with an average flow at its mouth of 74 m3/second).
- Annually 2.2 million people visit the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and 30,000 people live and work in the area.
- Tintern was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and the smelting of brass and iron began in 1568. The Wye gorge, forested for over 8,000 years, was for centuries coppiced on an industrial scale for charcoal to fuel the blast furnaces.
- At 230 metres, Wyndcliff, near St Arvans, is one of the highest inland cliffs in Britain.
- The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is the only protected landscape to straddle the English and Welsh border.
- In the AONB there are 45 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and four National Nature Reserves.
- King Arthur's Cave on Little Doward contained 15,000-year-old bones of humans, woolly rhinoceros and mammoth.
- Thousands will celebrate the second Wye Valley River Festival of nature, culture, landscape and conservation between 29th April and 15th May 2016.
Map of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wales
Map supplied by Wye Valley AONB
Main images: Linda Wright (tree, canoe and Tintern Abbey) & Mike Longridge (rainbow) for Wye Valley AONB.
Guide written and researched by Abigail Whyte.
This online guide to the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was funded by Welsh Government.