Explore the banks of the River Wye

River Wye and Tintern Abbey from above.

River Wye and Tintern Abbey, Wye Valley by @northernspirits
The Wye is a pretty unique river. Stretching 134 miles, it is the fifth longest river in the UK and traverses the border of England and Wales. Travelling through Rhayader, Builth Wells, Monmouth, and more, follow its meandering path and you’ll encounter all kinds of rich scenic, cultural and visceral treasure troves. Its course takes in adrenaline fuelled adventures, ancient monuments, gourmet fare and some of the most wonderful undulating scenery in the world. Begin your journey at the Wye’s source in Plynlimon and let it lead you on a serendipitous journey of discovery.  Here are some of the highlights you’ll encounter on the way…

What to see

Mid Wales from its highest point, Plynlimon

Plynlimon with snow on top.

Plynlimon, Wye Valley by @kcbond007
The source of the River Wye is also the highest point in Mid Wales. Nestled in the Cambrian Mountains, Plynlimon is an area of astounding natural beauty, and is perfect for a revitalising hike in the fresh air in order to experience the wilder side of the Wye. Known as Pen Pumlumon Fawr in Welsh, legend has it that this is the home of a Reaver giant who enjoys ambushing unwitting travellers. Although fear not- you should be safe to take in the sights, though you may make some friends in the form of the resident Highland cattle.

Stargaze from your very own dome, Newchurch

Domes under the stars.

Domes under the stars, Wye Valley by Cosy Under Canvas
This family-owned glamping site is the dream al fresco getaway. Far from any hustle and bustle, Cosy Under Canvas’ domes are each equipped with fire pits for a back to basics barbeque in the great outdoors. There’s loads of activities to get stuck into in the local wilderness, but if all that sounds a bit too energetic couples on the hunt for a romantic retreat can cwtch (that’s Welsh for cuddle) up under a blanket under the stars, or enjoy a dip in a hot tub (with a bottle of bubbles obviously).

What to eat

Welsh gelato, Monmouth

Selection of ice cream in tubs.

Green and Jenks gelato, Wye Valley by Green and Jenks
Though gelato may not immediately come to mind when you think of classic Welsh dishes, award-winning Green and Jenks have truly cemented their legacy at their Monmouth-based gelato shop. Founded in 1888 as a Cardiff dairy company, it is now run by the family’s sixth generation. Locally sourced ingredients and a super-secret recipe combine to create some of the best iced treats you’ll ever taste (and they have gluten and lactose free options too). If it’s chilly, take a seat inside their gorgeous Georgian townhouse, but if the sun is shining we’d recommend you enjoy your treat out on the sun terrace. If you’re lucky you may even be in town for one of their gin and gelato nights.

Fish and Chips by the river, Cwmdauddwr

Hidden away in the village of Cwmdauddwr, near Rhayader, you’ll find The Triangle Inn. This 16th century pub is a dog-friendly watering hole overlooking the river Wye, making it the perfect pit stop on a romp around the area. Pop in for a pint – the Triangle is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide – or enjoy a sit down meal in their cosy lounge, kitted out with a log burning fire (we recommend the battered haddock). They even have a takeaway menu, if you wanted to bring a blanket and picnic a little closer to the water.

What to drink

A chilled glass of Dathliad Sparkling from Parva Farm Vineyard, Tintern 

Parva Farm Vineyard.

Parva Farm Vineyard, Wye Valley by Parva Farm Vineyard
When Judith and Colin Dudley bought 60 acres of land in Tintern, they had no idea that it would end up producing an award-winning wine stocked by Marks and Spencer. Originally intending to farm sheep and cattle, they discovered a neglected vineyard that still had potential, and now their livestock live happily alongside 4,500 vines of 17 different varieties. Their 2013 Tintern Parva Dathliad Sparkling won Silver at the English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition 2016, so make sure to pop in for a taste and a chat with the Dudleys.  

Cross a bridge for a pint of Welsh ale, Penallt

Exterior of The Boat Inn, Penallt.

The Boat Inn, Penallt, Wye Valley by The Boat Inn
The Boat Inn in Penallt is one of the oldest pubs in the area, and sits right on the edge of the River Wye overlooking the old railway bridge that crosses from Redbrook to the village. Perfect for walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike, this local institution is well worth a detour for a pint and a snack. It also makes an excellent spot for a little R&R if you hire some canoes and row, row, row your boat down the Wye. There’s a number of canoe operators in the area (more on which below) who all suggest a stop off at The Boat Inn to break up your picturesque journey. 

What to do

Visit the ‘town of books’, Hay on Wye

Book shelves outside Hay Castle.

Hay Castle, Wye Valley by @talkingexcitingly
Hay-on-Wye is world-renowned for its iconic literature festival, which has been bringing the best minds from around the world to the Welsh town for over three decades. However, you can turn up at any time of year and find yourself enthralled by all of its little eccentricities. Aside from the town’s twenty plus book shops, you must visit the 17th century Hay Castle and its ‘Honesty Bookshop’ where customers are trusted to take a book and leave a pound.  Other suggestions include snapping up oddities at antique shop The End, and wandering around Hay Market in search of foody fare. We recommend organising a tour to get the best out of your visit.

Canoe the River Wye, Wyecliff

Two canoes with young children looking forward on the River Wye.
Canoeing on the River Wye, Wye Valley by Want to Canoe?
What better way to see the sights of the Wye than on the river itself? Grab a canoe from Want to Canoe? in Wyecliff and paddle your way down the river for a relaxing sightseeing trip through the verdant scenery. And pleasingly there’s a fair few watering holes along the way to quench your hard won thirst. Full day trips (from 10am – 4pm) are only £35 per person. Other canoe and activity providers offer similar trips in depending where you want to explore!