The River Wye is the second longest river in Wales but considered to be the most beautiful. It has been attracting tourists since the 18th century and the English poet, William Wordsworth, described it “of aspect more sublime”.
The Wye Valley was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1971 due to its geology, wildlife and religious and industrial history. It straddles the border between Wales and England.
Chepstow is a point of entry to South East Wales and the Wye Valley. Built in 1067, Chepstow Castle was one of the first stone-built castles in Wales. It towers over the river stretching along the limestone cliff above.
Chepstow Museum is near the castle in a Georgian style townhouse and its collection includes artefacts, paintings and photographs. Displays feature the many industries brought to Chepstow including ship building, the wine trade and salmon fishing. Entry is free and is open daily except Wednesday.
The town has many shops, and eateries. At the bottom of the town centre is Chepstow bridge, the world's largest iron arch road bridge. It gives clients the perfect opportunity to take a photo in two different counties and countries, whilst taking in the spectacular views of the river. At one end is Wales, whilst at the other end is England!
Chepstow is one of the starting points for walking the Offa’s Dyke Path. The national trail is 177 miles (285 km) long and heads north before ending in Prestatyn.
There is parking for cars by the castle (which is also suitable for coaches). Public toilets are also located at the car park.
Seasonal racing occurs at Chepstow Racecourse throughout the year. It is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) from the town centre. Visit the website for the latest fixture list, special events calendar and ticket information.
The ruins of Tintern Abbey is set in a secluded valley. Founded in 1131, the Abbey was completed in 1301 but began to fall into decay after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. Visitors can walk amongst well preserved ruins and imagine the daily routine of the monks at Tintern.
Abbey Mill is a 4min walk from the abbey. There are five distinctive shops on site, selling everything from clothing, arts, crafts, homeware and gifts. The Boat House includes a gallery of art and photography; and Wye Valley Crafts showcases unique ‘Made in Monmouthshire’ gifts from over 30 local crafters. There is also a coffee shop and restaurant on-site. Opens Wednesday to Sunday. A short stroll from Abbey Mill is the iron footbridge over the Wye where clients will have the opportunity to take photos of the magnificent views.
Take a further 1 mile (1.6 km) scenic walk from Abbey Mill along the River Wye to The Old Station Tintern. On site is an old train signal box along with refurbished railway carriages which provide local history and information, and a model railway. There is a tearoom on-site open from April to October. Wye Valley Walks features the walk along its route from Monmouth to Tintern which is 10.25 miles (16.5 km) long.
The Angidy Valley is a fast-flowing tributary of the River Wye. It is rich in industrial history and is a sheltered walk. As early as 1568 brass was made in Tintern, but it quickly became more famous for making wire. The Angidy Trail is a 5 mile (8 km) circular walk and takes around 3hrs. The industrial remains include the furnace, forge and workers cottages. Also, beautiful ponds used for storing water for the waterwheels can be found. There is a car park at the start of the walk at Lower Wireworks on Forge Road. Alternatively, start the walk from Tintern Abbey.
Wye Valley Sculpture Garden is 1.4 miles (2.25 km) from Tintern. The manager is recognised national artist Gemma Wood and her sculptures, made from mainly natural materials, feature in the three acre garden. Check website for opening hours.
Visit Parva Farm Vineyard during 1300 to 1700hrs Thursday to Monday. Tours can be arranged outside these hours by appointment only. There is a small gift shop and gardens on-site.
There is a range of tours and tasting sessions at Kingstone Brewery including 1hr, half day or a full day experiences. They pride themselves on their traditional process of brewing and bottling by hand. There is a shop on-site.
Travel 2.8 miles (4.5 km) to Silver Circle Distillery where tours are offered. Clients will learn the process of how the distillery forge their own botanicals, and distil and bottle their products by hand, before tasting some of the produce sold in the shop. Gin making experiences and cocktail masterclasses are also on offer. Booking is recommended.
Further information can be found on Vineyards, breweries and distilleries in South Wales.
Monnow Bridge is the gateway to the ancient market town of Monmouth which is the last remaining medieval fortified river bridge in Great Britain. It also has a statue of the famous car manufacturer, Charles Rolls outside Shire Hall. He was the first person to fly non-stop across the English Channel both ways, and tragically, the first person to be killed in an air crash in the UK. His family were great benefactors of the town which included the collection of Admiral Lord Nelson memorabilia at Shire Hall Museum. Please check with the museum if the Nelson collection is on display, whilst they are making improvements. The museum has many historical collections of the town and the events leading to the Newport Chartist Rising. Clients will be able to see a mock up of the judge’s room, the courtroom and prisoners’ cells.
The Savoy Theatre is an Art Nouveau gem with daily showings of the latest films. It also plays host to comedy, plays, musicals, and a range of other theatrical performances.
The ruins of Monmouth Castle, the Castle and Regimental Museum, and Nelson Garden (open Friday to Sunday) are all situated in the town and worth visiting.
Travel 11 miles (17.7 km) to White Castle Vineyard. Set in five acres in the rolling Monmouthshire countryside, it offers vineyard tours from Friday to Sunday.
Situated a short distance from the border of the Wye Valley, en-route from Cardiff and Newport and 9.4 miles (15.1 km) from Monmouth, is the impressively grand Raglan Castle. It dates from the 15th century and the building shows the transition from castle to stately home. Owned for many years by the Worcester family, the English Civil War in 17th Century caused its ruin.
The town of Abergavenny is 11 miles (17.7 km) from Raglan. Abergavenny Market opens Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the Victorian Market Hall. A short walk from the town centre is Abergavenny Museum and Castle. The museum is located within the grounds of the castle and is open daily (except Wednesday) with exhibitions and artefacts on display. The grounds of the castle are opened daily between 1100hrs and 1600hrs. Every September, the town hosts Abergavenny Food Festival where the town comes alive with local and international traders selling their produce. Visit The Angel Hotel for a spot of afternoon tea (booking essential - Thursday to Sunday). Visit St Mary's Priory and the Tithe Barn to learn about the turbulent history of the church and to marvel at the tapestry. Also visit the exotic plants, specimen trees and flora at Linda Vista Gardens.
From the town, Sugar Loaf Vineyard is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) and Llanthony Priory is 10 miles (16.1 km) - worth a visit if driving. The five acre vineyard has daily self guided tours; and the ruins of the former monastery once provided a tranquil setting for monks in the 12th century.
Goytre Wharf is 6.2 miles (10 km) south from Abergavenny where day boat and canoe hire is available to explore the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. There is a café on site.
Hay on Wye
Just under 1hr drive from the edge of the Wye Valley is Hay on Wye. The market town on the Welsh/English border is famous for its bookshops and an annual literary Hay Festival in late May. It is 33 miles (53 km) from Monmouth. There are thousands of second-hand books in dozens of shops and a cinema. The town has a wonderful range of craft shops and many of the cafés use locally sourced ingredients, including sheep’s milk ice-cream at the Shepherd's Parlour.
Visit Hay Castle, which was opened to the public for the first time in 900 years following a long restoration project. Clients will be able to hear stories about the castle’s history, see historic images of the castle, and watch an animated film projected on the castle walls. An interactive 150-year-old Columbian letterpress is also on display. There are magnificent views of the Wye Valley from the Tower viewing platform. There is a café and an honesty bookshop on-site. Guided tours are provided daily, and entry is free although access to the main exhibitions can be accessed with a small charge.
Watersports on the Wye
Adventure days out on the water is a great way to explore the River Wye. There are companies who hire out canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. They can also arrange climbing and gorge walking. It is important that visitors have canvas shoes that can get wet. Flip flops are not permitted. They provide safety equipment. Booking is essential for day or half day with or without a guide.
A selection of companies offering adventures on the River Wye include Way2Go Adventures, Inspire2Adventure, Woodlands Outdoor Education Centre and Black Mountains Activity Centre.