Points Of Interest
The Wye Valley walk has some interesting features that you might miss as you crush the miles. Some people we know like to step off trail and soak up what's there. If you're this type then these points of interest might well be for you.
Gilfach Nature Reserve
For centuries Gilfach was a hill farm but after an historic purchase it's now a fabulous nature reserve. Looking towards the Wye Valley the Marteg Valley is awe inspiring. We recommend a visit to the falls where Salmon can be seen spawning. Passing through the reserves historic farm pay a visit inside for more information. It's a far out building to with some refreshments.
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As you enter Rhayader your struck by it's old market town feel. Gateway to the Cambrian Mountains and the Upper Wye many have travelled here and used its Inns over time. One such Inn was the Old Swan, which is the oldest remaining building in Rhayader at late 16th c, Check it out on the corner of West and South Streets next to the Tea Rooms. The chimney is a giveaway.
Old Swan Address:
We saw two Otters here as we enjoyed the sweeping vista of the Elan and Wye with Gwastedyn Hill looming high above at 477 M. It's a space to take time out in and enjoy the Wye river system and its place in the landscape. The Elan starts on the Banc Yr Wyn above the Cwnmystwyth (see Wild Elan Way Video) and flows through the Elan dam system. It's a magnificent spot.
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Walking up from the Elan/Wye confluence you enter the RSPB Carngaffallt nature reserve. Here ancient oak, woodland pasture and moorland blend together to make for a naturalists dream. Go off piste and check out some of the Oak woodland on it's Southern slopes. As you head up be sure to note the old mountain cottage that's testament to the old ways.
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Like The Waters The Imagination Flows
Know The Trail
There's no sight more unusual than a standing stone right at the entrance of a 19th C Church but that's exactly what you get at Llanwrthwy. After descending down from Carngaffallt or prior to ascending it step into St Gwrthwl's Church yard and check out the large 4,000 year old standing stone. You can't miss it! An odd feature it inspires thoughts of an ancient past.
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Builth carries a little guilt. A 40 Ft Sq Mural depicting the dieing days of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd the last prince of Wales speaks of it. The painting tells of his defeat against the English. After, Builth betrayed the prince, which allegedly resulted in his capture on Aberedw Hill in a cave that's now a shrine. Later we pass here on the opposite side of the river.
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Outside of Builth we ascend Pant-Y-Llyn, which offers views of Aberedw Hill and Rocks opposite. The Edw valley is majestic as is the Wye looking back from Twmpath later. In between is Aberdew Rocks, which is Silurian at 440 million years old. It's here that Llywelyn ap Gruffydd is said to have hidden from the English in a cave. Just a little historical and geological angle on the walk.
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bridge where you can see the rocky Wye down below and a view of the Black Mountains protruding out of the trees
beyond. It offers a fantastic perspective on where the Wye is.
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As you pass through Boughrood check out the old house on the left bank of the bridge North side. This is the old Boat Inn. Good old times have been had here as it was once the information super highway. Stepping onto the trail beside the Wye be sure to keep an eye out for an amazing swim pool, which has been sampled to good effect. Far out vibes here on a nice day or cold one depending on your capacity. The views down river are awesome as Twmpa looms large.
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In Glasbury village check out the Llynfi confluence with the Wye. It doesn't look much but this little tributary comes from an epic place. Starting near the 12thc Blaenllynfi castle it flows through the largest natural lake in South Wales Llangorse. Not many know this but once aware it gives you some idea as what the Wye is made up of. Llangorse is a Wye tributary! Be sure also to check out the oldest Scout Hut in Wales near the bridge. Peer in it's a blast from the past.
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Hay On Wye
There's no particular place we seek to guide you to here because the whole town is worth soaking up. If on trail you could enjoy any one of the cafes/pubs or just sit in the old cheese market where there are information boards to read as you munch on your oat biscuits and hummus amid the rain. Mind you the castle is worth a look if open as is the atmospheric Book Passage or Richard Booth’s Bookshop. It is after all the town of books. Watch out for your rucksack though.
Francis Kilvert was a diarist in the 1870's who was also an English clergyman. He took up posts in the Wye Valley and would often walk the rivers, hills and vales we pass through on the Wye Valley Walk. His diaries of the time invoke a place long since gone yet strangely the spirit remains the same. They are fascinating accounts of how life was in these parts and are well worth reading. His last post was taken up at Bredwardine on the Wye where he sadly died in 1879 at the age of 38. His grave is at Bredwardine church.
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Out of the whole Mid Wye one of our favorite sections is from Mordiford to Ross On Wye passing through Caplar Camp Iron Age hill fort, which dates back to 800 BC and How Caple. With the Woolhope Dome nearby a magnet for naturalists the section is heavily wooded, rolling, rural and extraordinarily beautiful as the river winds its way through part of the Wye Valley A.O.N.B in Herefordshire.
A Rural Stretch
Looking back towards the Black Mountains where the Wye arches around to enter Herefordshire
Rural Scenes & Sounds Exhilarate
Restoring The Zen Within
There are a good few churches along the way, which inspire the history buff inside. The 12th C Byford church with its medieval wall paintings is no exception. In the south transept paintings dating back to the 1400's adorn the walls. This was around the time that local Herefordshire archers were in France fighting at Agincourt. Amazing to think they survive and were only discovered in the 1950's. How do things get forgotten? The whole church is worth checking out and chilling out in. For more details this article covers the lot.
Church Grid Ref
Hereford Cathedral is truly a majestic building dating back to the 10th C. Set beside the banks of the Wye it's always been a place for locals and visitors alike as it inspired intrigue and awe. Why not pay it a visit whilst on trail or even take a break in one of the two gardens. If you have the time there is also the Mapa Mundi Museum, which houses the oldest medieval map in the world and there is the chained library housing the largest of its kind in Europe. As for the city it's worth a look to with all the supplies you'll need.
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There's nothing more rural than seeing a mill tucked away in a village. Of course towns and cities had their mills but a village mill somehow stands distinct. This is true of Mordiford Mill in the village of Mordiford where the Dragon of Mordiford reigned.
With a large overshot wheel to drive iron machinery and two pairs of stones it stands tall and purposeful nearby Pentaloe Brook, which eventually runs into the Wye via the Lugg. Ponder it and its medieval pools as you pass by or take a closer look if you knock and ask.
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Caplar & Ross
This whole part of the Wye valley is steeped in human history dating back to the Paleolithic period.
Check out Landscape Origins of the Wye Valley. Caplar Camp isn't as old but it's an interesting feature to note on top of Caplar Hill. The defenses of this Iron Age Hill Fort weather permitting are a nice spot to kick back for a while. As you enter Ross On Wye take pause for a moment at its old market place perhaps and consider the birth place of UK tourism. Yes, here tourism was thought of during the Napoleonic wars - they had to take the tour somewhere and the Wye Valley was it.
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The Lugg Contributes 11% Of The Wye's Final Flow
Just Back Off The Wye Valley Trail Buzzing
Lydbrook has had a long history since the Mesolithic (10,000 - 4,000) years ago. The Romans occupied it to making use of the resources in the surrounding area. Recent history has seen it thrive as an industrial center although the Romans established Iron production in the area first. There was coal and forges making way for various products including tin plate. The Valley was a smoky place that saw the local cable works thrive during the 1st world war. Look out for what became the Edison Swan works beside the Wye.
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Symonds Yat Gorge
Symonds Yat gorge (Yat meaning pass in old English) is undeniably beautiful. A site of special scientific interest (SSSI) it is made up of old red sandstone and carboniferous limestone dating back 350m Million years. Look out for the 7 sisters bluffs above the Biblins that formed out of carboniferous life such as plants and or amphibians. The woods they stand in today are the most extensive areas of semi-natural, broadleaved woodland in the valley. Enjoy the space it's a real treasure.
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The Welsh word for Monmouth is Trefynwy meaning 3. It takes its name after the rivers Wye, Monnow and Trothy. There are numerous bridges in the area but none more recognizable than the Medieval fortified bridge of Monmouth the only one of its kind still standing in Europe. A grade 1 listed building and played roles in the English Civil War. It has also served as a gaol, a munitions store, a store, an ad hoarding, the focus of celebrations and as a toll gate. from off it observe the Heron down below being irritated by ducks.
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Like Lydbrook, Redbrook and Whitebrook Tintern was once a hive of industrial activity. And to think it was the birth place of tourism back in the day. You could walk through Tintern and miss a lot. Check out the Lower wire works docks where goods from the Angidy Valley were loaded and unloaded. It's en-route and you can eat there to. Here the river is tidal and flows just up stream at Bigsweir at a rate of about 70 cubic meters a second. The 11th C Cistercian monks knew these waters and left behind the incredible Tintern Abbey. It's a dreamy place alright - soak it up and enjoy the vibe.
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