Reasons to stay in the Wye Valley, Symonds Yat

the motoroamers

Reasons to stay in the Wye Valley, Symonds Yat

There are so many reasons to stay in the Wye Valley, Symonds Yat. An area that is so often bypassed down the A40 to Newport in Wales or along the M5 to the Devon coastline. In this blog we try enticing you to this corner of Herefordshire with the prospect of great camping, great walking and stunning scenery. Are you game? If so then read on.

View of the River Wye, at Symonds Yat

Why come to Herefordshire?

Herefordshire is an understated county of England. With the M5 running alongside its county fringes to the alluring Devon and Cornwall coasts, as well as the industrial heartlands of the Midlands to the north, people simply hurtle by. Yet as the gateway county to the Midlands, Wales, the Cotswolds and Somerset, Herefordshire is a hidden gem. So few people know about the treasures of this amazing county, its historic cathedral city and its heady environment for nature lovers. If you are thinking of a staycation, then Herefordshire might be just right up your street.

Herefordshire is one of England’s 39 Historic Counties, which is part of the collection of administrations selected in the Norman era. It is also one of the country’s most rural counties. With its agricultural focus and rich soil, Herefordshire is a basket of delights for market produce and apples in particular. In fact, apples are one of the county’s biggest producers with cider production being at the centre of the universe. Both Bulmers and Westons have factories here of which Bulmers is the largest in the world.

With the county capital and city of Hereford showing off its cathedral, a visit here is well worth a stop. You can find out more by clicking here.

Although for today’s pitch, we wanted to share with you, just one of Herefordshire’s gems; the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley. On the cusp of three counties, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, Symonds Yat is a stunning and unspoilt area that will not disappoint.

Hereford cathedral view from the River Wye

4 Reasons to stay in the Wye Valley & Symonds Yat

If you are looking for a place to walk, Paddleboard, canoe, cycle or simply enjoy the peace of wildlife and nature, then look no further than Symonds Yat. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this beautiful region surpasses expectations.

The Wye winds its way from its source at Plynlimon in mid Wales, through the Herefordshire countryside, back into Wales via Monmouthshire and out to the Severn Estuary at Chepstow. At 130 miles long, the Wye is England’s fifth longest river and is special for a number of reasons. Not only is it renowned for its salmon, it is also home to the Sea Lamprey, which is a metre long fish that is able to move stones in its mouth. Here are four reasons why you need to put this area on your ‘must visit’ list.

The view of the River Wye from Biblins Bridge

1. History

With industrial heritage dating back to the 15th century, this region of the river Wye is thought, by many, to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. With trees, ore and charcoal from nearby Forest of Dean, the river became not only an important transport hub, it also gave rise to mills that lined the river banks. It’s hard to imagine in today’s beautiful surroundings that so much smoke would have filled the air. Can you just imagine the sound that reverberated through the valley? An orchestra of noise that is inevitable from the flour, iron ore, copper and paper mills, and later the lime kilns, which became a noticeable feature of the landscape.

There is still evidence of this ancient industry and it is just so hard to imagine the bustle of energy as you hike through these majestic and peaceful woodlands. One of the most significant gifts that the past has handed onto the present are the traditional hand ferries. Of the twenty five ferries that used to transport people, animals and raw materials, just two remain. One you can find at Ye olde Ferrie Inn and the other is at the Saracens Head. For just £2 pp you can go back in time and recreate a little piece of history as you glide across the fast running Wye to the opposite bank. They run from mid Spring to mid Autumn, depending upon the river conditions and are an absolute must for capturing the spirit of this Symonds Yat area.

2. The hiking and cycling trails

Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley is a Mecca for hikers, ramblers and mountain bikers. With short strolls or longer walks that hug the river, climb the escarpment and wind through atmospheric woodland, you are spoilt for choice. The steep climbs up to the Yat rock that you will find throughout the woodland, are perfect for those searching for a hearty workout.

With good signposts offering you plenty of options, Symonds Yat will give you a veritable feast. With the river constantly teasing you with its presence through the trees and the rocks towering above you, there’s no doubt that Mother Nature rules today. If you happen to time your visit in April, then you can languish in the carpet of Bluebells. Perhaps later in Spring, you fancy a forage for Wild Garlic with the voracious plant covering the woodland banks, giving the illusion of snow. If you fancy a recipe for Wild Garlic Pesto, just give this a click from our website. Or may be you coincide an Autumn visit, where a palette of rusty colours light up your view.

Wild garlic in May in the woodlands of Symonds Yat

Fair warning however, that during summer, Symonds Yat is busy, so be prepared to share this magical space with others who yearn for its beauty.

The river routes are pretty easy going and you can walk from Symonds Yat all the way down to Monmouth, clocking up a good 6 miles – just one way. Or if you time your visit right, then you can do a couple of really lovely circular walks, using the hand ferry to complete your hike.

Whilst here though, you cannot miss the heart-pumping hike that takes you from the Saracens Head pub and B&B up the side of the gorge to the Yat Rock view point. What a joy that is with a panoramic view around the almost ox-bow river as it winds through the heart of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You might catch a glimpse of the famous Peregrine Falcons that call this place home. Countryfile profiled their death defying dives from the rocks, and today they are still very active. During spring and summer, you will always hear their mews. Once at Yat rock, you can then do so many more walks around the woodlands here, with a cafe for refreshments in high season and weekends.

You can drive up to viewpoint at Yat rock if you have a car or camper van, although do not attempt it in any sort of motorhome as the steep and narrow two-way road is just not conducive to larger vehicles.

Symonds Yat is a go to place for us, as my mum lives near Ross on Wye, just a 15 minute drive away. So we are very familiar with this region and regularly come to stay at the River Wye Camping and Caravan site. I love the walks and despite having done them many times, I never tire of their tranquility and mesmerising appeal. In fact during our stay in May 2024, I decided to capture my walks in a video. Click the link below to come along with me.

3. Messing about on the river

One of the biggest draws to the River Wye and Symonds Yat is – no not the gorgeous pubs, although they are pretty nice, if truth be told. No it is the water pursuits. Whether you fancy hiring a canoe from Ross on Wye for a full day on the water, or perhaps a more gentle half day from Kerne Bridge at Goodrich, either way you are in for a treat. We have glided down these waters many a time, and for around £60 for two you can take in the riverbank views at your leisure, waiting for the gargantuan cliffs to fill your vision – and then stop at the pub once you are done! It’s such a great experience and I love to see a place from all angles. Canoeing certainly enables you to do that.

Of course if you fancy a Paddleboard instead, there are plenty of places to hire a SUP from Symonds Yat. Perhaps if you have your own board or kayak, then a stay at the River Wye Camping and Caravan site will be ideal. They have their own launch, which with a small fee you are able to use. Or you can walk down the river a bit and find your own launching pad. And in case you are a professional canoeist, then most likely you will already know about the iconic rapids just past the Saracen’s Head.

People travel the country to experience this, now protected stretch of river, which is owned by British Canoeing. So either to participate or simply watch the skill of the slalom canoeists is a joy.

4. The surrounding area of Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley

Whilst it is tempting to indulge ourselves purely in the sumptuous surroundings of Symonds Yat, there is more to explore. Within walking distance, if you are a walker, otherwise a short drive, you have Goodrich Castle. Owned by English Heritage, these castle ruins have an entry fee of £10pp for non members. You get 15% discount if you book on line, which seems sensible. A little further south you have the historic fortress of Raglan Castle, which is a little more grand and well worth a visit with entry fees starting from £9.50.

A 15 minute drive south on the A40 from Symonds Yat west, you cross into Wales and the border town of Monmouth. Walking through its iconic 13th century gatehouse, you find yourself in a cute market town that has a reputation for producing knitted and felted caps dating back from the 15th century.

In the opposite direction, again about 15 minutes away you have the delightful market town of Ross on Wye. My preferred town of the two, although I am biased as this was our ‘home’ during the Covid crisis. With its centrepiece market square, Tudor style buildings, Ross has an imposing yet gentle feel to it. With many independent shops that might appeal, the church and its viewpoint gardens and the old railway walk, there’s plenty to see and do in Ross for half a day or so.

If you wanted to branch out a bit further, then why not take the time to visit the county capital, Hereford. This is such a great city and we in particular love the riverside walks, the ancient bridges that cross the Wye and of course its Cathedral. With the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library that in itself is intriguing for history buffs and a short hop from here you have the cobbled-stone Shambles that leads down to the main square.

And if you are in the Symonds Yat area, do not miss the chance to visit Lucy at the Woods of Whitchurch. A delightful high class deli where your taste buds will be tantalised by her cakes, onion bargees and scotch eggs. It is just half a mile from the campsite on the west banks of the Wye at Symonds Yat.

Woods of Whitchurch in Symonds Yat West

Whether you are searching for a retreat in your motorhome or looking for a day out or long weekend, a visit to Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley is a must. There are three campsites in the area that you can stay at, and countless B&B options at Symonds Yat itself or in Ross on Wye. Please come, you will love it.


Published: May 19, 2024
Category: Travel | UK


  1. Anna in Portugal

    I can see why you love it, stunning views and water, well thats all I need 🙂

    • Karen

      We do love it and when you get to tour England, it is worth putting on your list. Kx


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow us

You can find us on social media,
different channels for different content.