Wye Valley National Landscape / Tirwedd Cenedlaethol Dyffryn Gwy

At the heart of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty flows the river Wye, which has created one of the finest lowland landscapes in Britain. The quality of this landscape was protected in 1971 when the lower Wye, south of Hereford, was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Wye Valley NL - Team, Whitestone

Wye Valley National Landscape Staff Team, Whitestone

In the north, the river flows through softly rolling countryside across the Hereford plain renowned for its farming and orchards. Downstream from Ross-on-Wye lies the most dramatic limestone scenery, where the river races over rapids and through stunning gorges, passing the famous Symonds Yat Rock. Deeply incised meanders have cut into the plateau to form sheer wooded limestone cliffs and picturesque panoramas. Below Bigsweir the influence of the sea is felt as the river becomes tidal. This is border territory and the Wye has long marked the boundary between England and Wales. Today the Wye Valley AONB is the only protected landscape to straddle two countries.

(c) Adam Fisher Wye Valley NL - Goodrich Mist (c) Adam Fisher

Goodrich Mist

Perched high above the Wye, magnificent Goodrich Castle is just one of the fortifications constructed to defend the border. Further south, the romantic ruins of Tintern Abbey have inspired artists, writers and poets since the 18th century, with Wordsworth’s poem, Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey and Turner’s paintings loved around the world. Piercefield is one of the most outstanding examples of an 18th century picturesque landscape in Britain. The Wye Tour, a two day boat trip from Ross to Chepstow became the height of fashion in the later 18th century and Piercefield, where the Wye makes two enormous bends, became an unmissable attraction.

(c) Gemma Wood Wye Valley NL - Canoeing at Rosemary Topping (c) Gemma Wood

Canoeing at Rosemary Topping

In recognition of its importance for nature conservation the Wye was the first major river to be designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) along its entire length and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). In recent years a large number of intensive poultry farms, sewage discharges and climate change have led to a deterioration in the river’s water quality. Many agencies and individuals are now involved in actions to restore the Wye. The Lower Wye Valley woodlands are also internationally important and designated as a SAC. As one of largest areas of ancient woodland remaining in Britain they create a refuge for rare species.

(c) Ed Moskalenko Wye Valley NL - Tintern Abbey Frost (c) Ed Moskalenko

Tintern Abbey Frost

(c) Adam Fisher Wye Valley NL - Kerne Bridge (c) Adam Fisher

Kerne Bridge

(c) Ed Moskalenko Wye Valley NL - Mist and Birds Below Symonds Yat (c) Ed Moskalenko

Mist and Birds Below Symonds Yat