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Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley

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Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley
Author: Claire, Published: 06 Apr 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide star1 Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide star1 Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide star1 Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide star0 Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide
Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide boot Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide
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0018_cloudy_with_heavy_rain Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley Walking Guide Today's weather
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A 3 mile circular walk from the small village of Symonds Yat East in Gloucestershire, taking in a stunning stretch of the wooded Wye Valley. The walk begins with a trip on the hand-pulled ferry across the River Wye to the west bank, before turning south along the Wye Valley and then crossing back to the east side via a suspension footbridge and back along an old railway to return to Symonds Yat East. The walk is right on the borders of three counties and your journey will take you through Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. The word ‘picturesque’ was coined in William Gilpin’s 1770 book ‘Observations on the River Wye’ and this walk gives a real insight into his new theories on landscapes.

The walk is mainly flat and there are no stiles or gates but just a few steps. The first section is through a narrow mud woodland path which will be slippery after wet weather, but the majority of the walk follows well-made stone tracks. The route starts with a river crossing via the hand-pulled ferry run by the Saracen’s Head public house. Charges are £1.20 per adult, 60p per child and dogs can be taken on the ferry for free. The ferry runs throughout the year unless the river is in flood, but you can call the pub to check before you set out if you wish. The second river crossing is via a suspension footbridge which has a solid base but is high over the river and bounces a little as you cross so may not be for the faint-hearted. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

The walk starts from Symonds Yat East in Gloucestershire which is accessed from the A40 and B4229. There are a couple of pay and display car parks in the village. The village has very narrow lanes and can get very congested during peak holiday times so it is advisable to arrive early. Approximate post code HR9 6JL.

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Walk Sections

Symonds Yat East to Wye Rapids
Symonds Yat East to Wye Rapids

Start point: 51.8403 lat, -2.6385 long
End point: 51.8381 lat, -2.6402 long

To start the walk you need to catch the hand-pulled ferry which you board directly outside the Saracens Head public house. The ferry is operated by the pub and runs based on an ancient ferrying right that allows the local inns to provide passage across the river. Disembark on the opposite (west) bank and climb up the flight of concrete steps. At the top turn left onto the small tarmac lane.

You are now in Symonds Yat West in Herefordshire. Symonds Yat is named after Robert Symonds, a 17th Century sheriff from Yorkshire who set up a gate (or ‘yat’) here to charge those wanting to pass through the area into the Forest of Dean.

Follow the road as it heads gently downhill into a dip and then starts to climb more steeply. Turn left marked with a public footpath sign and go down the steps to join a narrow woodland footpath, following the river on your left.

After a short distance you will come to a section of rapids in the river with a small island in the centre. Soon after, you will see some of the remains of New Weir Forge on the banks to your right.

These ironworks date from the 1590s and were operated by the White family. In 1753, George White leased the site to John Partridge who combined the ironworks at New Weir with his forge at Lydbrook which smelted pig iron. The works included a 'slitting mill', for making wire nails and a rolling mill powered by water wheels. The works closed when the lease ran out in 1798 and the adjacent weir and lock buildings were demolished and the lock filled in 1814.

Wye Rapids to Biblins Suspension Bridge
Wye Rapids to Biblins Suspension Bridge

Start point: 51.8381 lat, -2.6402 long
End point: 51.8268 lat, -2.6542 long

Continue following the woodland trail alongside the river. After the little while turn left to merge with a wider stone track coming in from the right. Continue ahead for about a mile with the river on your left and the steep sides of the Wye Valley both sides.

Here the River Wye has cut a deep gorge in the carboniferous limestone exposing impressive cliff faces, creating one of the most dramatic and scenic landscape areas in southern Britain.

After about a mile you will pass a wooden vehicle barrier to enter Biblins Youth Campsite. On the right is Lord’s Wood, a steep woodland habitat of 117 hectares managed by the Forestry Commission to support butterflies. More than 20 species of butterfly are known to breed here including Wood White, Holly Blue and Brimstone.

Follow the track for another half mile. As the path begins to bend to the right you will pass by a large covered picnic area and just a few paces later you will see the Biblins Suspension Footbridge which you will use to cross the river.

Biblins Suspension Bridge to Symonds Yat East
Biblins Suspension Bridge to Symonds Yat East

Start point: 51.8268 lat, -2.6542 long
End point: 51.8393 lat, -2.6385 long

The suspension footbridge was first built in 1957 but was fully refurbished in 1997. Cross the bridge with care, observing the rule for only six people to be on the bridge at any one time.

Back on the east bank, turn left to follow the track back to Symonds Yat East. This first section of the return route is in Monmouthshire, Wales and on the right is Lady Park Wood nature reserve.

After a short distance take the left hand fork to keep to the track nearest to the river. This track follows the route of the former Ross and Monmouth Railway through Highmeadow Woods.

After about a mile you will pass once again alongside the river’s rapids and you will get a great view of any canoeists taking on the challenge that the white water presents. A few paces later pass through the New Weir car park and then keep left past the Royal Lodge and Forest View Guesthouse on your right. Continue ahead to return to your car.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley"

The ferry wasn't running as heavy rain had led to the river bursting its banks, but noticed prices had inc. slightly to £1.20 adults 60p children/ cycles. Haven't seen the bridge at Biblins since the '80s, and was pleased to see it has ramp access now making it accessible to dogs and cyclists. There is a cycle trail running parallel to the footpath (on the east side, don't know about the other side). On returning to Symonds Yat East where we had parked (£2/4hrs, but v.limited spaces, probably only managed to park here due to drizzle, but more parking up the hill) we went to the Saracens Head for a hot chocolate. They've an outdoor covered area where we sat with our dog, but noticed a well behaved dog sat under a table inside too. Several guest houses there, cycle/ canoe hire, and boat trips run in good weather also.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for the detailed comment - we have updated the walk information to include the latest ferry prices.

By hasletsarnie on 03 Jan 2016

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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