The Beautiful Wye Valley - An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The British Countryside
It’s a cold frosty day in winter, the trees are bare and the landscapes stark and my thoughts drift back to our beautiful green and pleasant land in summer.
Britain may not be known for spectacular mountains or dramatic backdrops, but is known for our countryside of green gently rolling hills and fields, with meandering flowing rivers offering much in gentle appeal and delight.
What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
To conserve and enhance the natural beauty of our countryside we have 35 AONBs in Britain, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
I am fortunate to live in one of them in the Wye Valley, it was designated in 1971 in recognition of it’s exceptional landscape.
It also boasts many Norman castles and the first Cistercian Abbey in Tintern which was founded in 1131.
Protecting an Area of Outstanding Beauty
To protect an AONB there are strict planning controls in place and practical countryside management guidelines. We also have a Green Belt policy to control urban dwelling and to maintain areas of agriculture and forestry.
The Kerne Bridge over the River Wye
The Kerne Bridge over the river Wye is in the hamlet of Kerne and was built in 1828. There is a popular picnic site here and also a canoe launch site. Canoeing on the scenic river Wye from Kerne Bridge to Symonds Yat, as the river twists and turns at a leisurely pace, is a popular activity with 2 pub stops en route!
The River Wye
The river Wye is Britain’s fifth longest river and part of it’s length forms the border between England and Wales.
It is one of our most scenic and unspoilt rivers from it’s source in Plynlimon, deep in the Welsh mountains, it flows 130 miles through Hay on Wye, Hereford, Ross on Wye, Symonds Yat, Monmouth, Tintern and finally Chepstow where it joins the Severn estuary into the Bristol Channel.
58 miles of the river flows through the valley with spectacular gorge scenery and dense ravine woodlands.
Symonds Yat East and West
Symonds Yat is a popular tourist destination in the Wye Valley and comprises of Symonds Yat East on the Gloucestershire side of the river Wye and Symonds Yat West on the Herefordshire side. The two banks are connected by an ancient hand pull ferry, where the ferryman for a small fee pulls people across the river using an overhead rope.
The Infamous Symonds Yat Rock
Symonds Yat Rock is a scenic view point on the East side of the river some 120 metres above the river. It’s one of the most well known and photographed views in England.
Peregrine Falcons at Symonds Yat Rock
Tourists and birdwatchers visiting the viewpoint between April and August hope to catch a glimpse of the Peregrine Falcons that nest on the cliff side. There are telescopes set up here provided by RSPB volunteers making it possible to actually see into their nests.
Wild Peregrines have long been associated with Symonds Yat Rock and have bred well here.
The river at Symonds Yat has cut a deep gorge in the limestone exposing many impressive cliff faces, an area that is popular with climbers.
The Wye Valley
The unusual name of Symonds Yat is said to come from Robert Symonds a 17th Century sheriff of Herefordshire and Yat is an old local word for a gate or pass.
The Wye Valley has so much to offer the visitor, scenic views, fabulous countryside, canoeing, wonderful walks, birdwatching and not forgetting some traditional English country pubs, well worth a visit!