Head to Wye Valley to enjoy wild swimming and Insta-worthy cobbled streets

GET your sweet valley highs from castle ruins, cobbled streets and wild swimming in the Wye Valley.

Here, writer Jill Starley-Grainger explains why the beauty spot, which straddles the Welsh-English border, is the perfect place for your staycation this summer.

Climb Romantic Ruins

The River Wye snakes 134 miles between England and Wales, through pretty towns and villages, but Monmouth is the perfect base to explore from.

Climb 800 feet up to the tiny, white-washed 18th-century folly, Kymin Round House, and check out the Naval Temple and vista of fields and forests.

Entry costs £3 (Nationaltrust.org.uk).

Back in town, walk through the 13th-century gate tower on Monnow Bridge, then head up to Church Street for independent bookshops, jewellers and the delightful Honeysuckle Wood Trading, selling crafts, vintage bikes and handmade soaps and candles (Honeysucklewood.co.uk).

Fifteen minutes’ drive away is Goodrich Castle, a sprawling romantic ruin.

Scramble over crumbling walls, climb wonky towers and explore the atmospheric 13th-century stone chapel.

Entry costs £9, booking essential (English-heritage.org.uk).

Take In The Views

Head out from Goodrich Castle car park for the easy Coppett Hill circular walk. 

As you pass through fields and farms, you’ll look out over six Welsh and English counties (Coppett-hill.org.uk).

Or, in the waterside village of Symonds Yat, take a three-mile circular stroll along the River Wye, then climb up to Symond’s Yat Rock to spot goshawks, sparrowhawks and buzzards (Forestryengland.uk/symonds-yat-rock).

Later, explore the medieval market town of Ross-on-Wye, 15 minutes from Monmouth, and pop into Made In Ross for upcycled homewares from local artists (Madeinross.co.uk).

Then hit The Prospect, a walled garden with fab views of the river and valley. 

Get Wet and Wild

Try a gentle half-day of paddling downstream, joining otters and herons, on an eight-mile canoe trip from Kerne Bridge to Symonds Yat, and take nibbles to feast on by the riverbank when you finish.

Canoes cost £65 for up to three people (Canoethewye.co.uk).

Or give stand-up paddleboarding a go on a half-day river safari, £50 (Supyofi.com).

Want to dip your toes in?

Wild swim specialist Angela Jones will share the joys of river swimming with you – safely – on a guided dip, £35 per hour (Run-wild.co.uk). 

Tuck Into Lamb

Treat yourself to a memorable long lunch at The Whitebrook, a Michelin-starred restaurant near Monmouth serving locally sourced fare – think Jerusalem artichokes with goat’s curd .

and suckling pig with caramelised celeriac, from £42 for three courses (Thewhitebrook.co.uk).

Try the charming Stonemill restaurant, in a converted 16th-century barn, for hearty dishes such as nut-crusted duck breast and pistachio cake with pineapple, from £23 for two courses (Thestonemill.co.uk).

And you can’t beat a Welsh roast lamb from £16, at the Moody Cow near Ross-on-Wye (Moodycowpub.com). 

Live Like A Shepherd

TV presenter Kate Humble has a clutch of adorable accommodation options on her Welsh farm, including a two-person Humble Hideaway shepherd’s hut in a tranquil corner that’s totally off-grid.

Doubles cost from £112 per night (Humblebynature.com).

Or plump for The Bell at Skenfrith, a 17th-century coaching inn with elegant rooms, a kitchen garden and a riverside setting, 15 minutes from Monmouth.

Double rooms cost from £150 a night (Thebellatskenfrith.co.uk). 


FYI

Stone Age people and woolly mammoths lived in and around King Arthur’s Cave near Symonds Yat more than 12,000 years ago.

Plan your trip at Wyevalleyaonb.org.uk.

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