AboutBritain.com Logo

River Wye

The River Wye is the fifth longest river in Britain and for much of its lower length it defines the border between England and Wales.

Not only is it known for its natural beauty but also for its role in nature conservation.

The Bredwardine Bridge over river Wye in Herefordshire, England
Bredwardine Bridge ©Shutterstock / Stephen Rees

The River Wye begins its journey in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon. It flows past many lovely towns including Builth Wells, Rhayader, Hereford, Symonds Yat, Tintern and Monmouth, known for its castle, before merging with the River Severn just below Chepstow.

The Wye Valley from above
The Wye Valley ©Shutterstock / t1ola

View of the valley of the River Wye from Symonds Yat Rock, Herefordshire
River Wye Valley from Symonds Yat Rock ©Shutterstock / David Hughes

Like many other rivers, the River Wye has also given its name to the many towns which have evolved along its banks, including the book town of Hay-on-Wye, Staunton-on-Wye and Ross-on-Wye, which is renowned as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Ruins of the Norman castle at Chepstow in Wales
Chepstow Castle ©Shutterstock / Maisna

Along its journey, the River Wye manages to remain largely unpolluted and is one of the best rivers south of the border for salmon fishing. It is also listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is an important part in preserving the natural wildlife of the area.

The River Wye from the toll bridge to Hay-on-Wye
River Wye near Hay-on-Wye ©Shutterstock / David Hughes

The River Wye is a popular source of recreation. Locals and visitors alike enjoy walking along its valleys, cycling along the lanes which follows it route, canoeing and even river-rafting down some of the stretches of white water rapids at Symonds Yat.

Majestic ancient ruins of Tintern Abbey on the Welsh bank of the River Wye in Monmouthshire.
Tintern Abbey ©Shutterstock / Matthew Dixon

The Wye Valley Walk follows the river from Hay-on-Wye to Chepstow along the series of way-marked paths which are well-maintained.

The River Wye in Monmouthshire, with trees in background
River Wye in Monmouthshire

The path runs beside the Rive Wye for a total of 136 miles.

Along the way there is a surprising variety of scenery, history, language and culture.

Along the banks of the River Wye are reminders of a less peaceful past. Chepstow Castle dates back to 1067 when William the Conqueror built it to secure his territory.

Its bulky stone towers continue to keep a watchful eye over the river from the limestone cliffs and it is an interesting castle to visit.

How Caple Court with its extensive gardens enjoys beautiful views of the Wye Valley and ancient Goodrich Castle, just south of Ross-on-Wye, is also worth visiting.

Bridge over the river Wye in Builth Wells, Wales
Bridge at Builth Wells ©Shutterstock / Stephen Rees

The graceful shell of Tintern Abbey enhances the natural beauty of the Wye Valley and is enjoyed not only for its Gothic architecture, but also for its wooded hill walks.

The scenic viewpoint near Biblins in the Wye Valley is known as Three Counties View as it is where Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire all meet.

Early Autumn on the River Wye, the border between England and Wales
River Wye in Autumn ©Shutterstock / Chrislofotos

The history of the River Wye goes back even further, to Roman times when it was used as a means of transport, transporting boatloads of stone, coal, timber and iron.

Originally coracles would have been used, then, through the years fishing boats, horse-drawn barges, steam tugs and even Wye trows, similar to those found on the river Severn.

View of River Wye
River Wye ©Shutterstock / Chrislofotos

They would have carried cider from Hereford, bark, wine and hazel hoops in their day. Now canoes are the most popular craft and there are also several rowing clubs in the area.

Share this article


Copyright © 1999-2024 Excelsior Information Systems Ltd. All rights reserved.
About Us  Press Room  Terms of Use  Privacy  Link to Us  Index  Site Map  Contact Us

Made with Responsive Grid System by Graham Miller