The Wye Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that sits on the border of England and Wales with plenty of hidden gems to explore, hikes to embark on, historical landmarks to discover and more – you certainly won’t fall short of things to do in the Wye Valley.
Following a recent trip, we’ve collated some of the best things to do, see, and experience while visiting the area. We’ve also thrown in some additional information about what to know before you go and where to stay whilst you’re there.
THINGS TO DO IN THE WYE VALLEY
ABSORB THE INSANE VIEWS FROM THE TOP OF SYMONDS YAT ROCK
Symonds Yat Rock is by far one of the most spectacular places to visit and is not one that should be missed out on your trip.
Providing views over the River Wye and beyond, it’s the perfect spot to soak up the scenery. There is also a cafe available for lunch and sweet treats.
For the more active, there are many hiking trails that cascade down from Symonds Yat Rock that can be found on Forestry England.
VISIT THE CHALET FROM THE NETFLIX HIT SERIES: SEX EDUCATION
This stunning chalet house set amount the hills with incredible views over the River Wye (although not quite as good as from Symonds Yat Rock, of course), is probably one of our dream houses – and no doubt when you see it, it will be yours too.
The deep red exterior stands out among the trees and honestly, it just looks like the best place to live – just imagine having those views every day and a plethora of hiking trails that span from your doorstep.
As the title suggests, the chalet also features in the hit Netflix series: Sex Education if you’ve seen that, too.
If not, then it probably won’t mean a lot to you, but it’s still totally instagrammable.
CANOE DOWN THE RIVER WYE
Grab your ores, canoe, and very strong human (ahem, Tom) and be
chauffered a great team that rows in sync down the River Wye together at great speed.
Or, if you have a less competitive partner/friends/family members, then relax as you pootle your way down the River Wye in the glorious sunshine as you admire the surrounding nature.
Yeah, that wasn’t us, but it sounds much more like my cup of tea.
There are a number of places along the river to rent canoes, such as Symonds Yat Canoe.
…OR GO FOR A REFRESHING WILD SWIM
If you decided to rent a canoe, then you’ll also notice the steady stream of leisurely swimmers bobbing along beside you.
We must warn you though, it is very refreshing. The water is also deceptively clear, so make sure it’s not too wild of a swim!
We highly recommend taking this super handy towelling robe to make getting changed in a public place easily.
JOIN A YOGA CLASS
As you might have guessed by now, many of the things to do in the Wye Valley are on your feet. So, what better way to take some chill-out time than to join a yoga class? You may even book onto a UK yoga retreat around here if that’s what you’re into.
We personally love a good stretch and savasana after an active day and recommend Forest Retreats – they offer individual sessions as well as day and weekend retreats.
If you just can’t get enough of the outdoors and fancy SUP Yoga instead, then check out Way2GoAdventures.
SPOT THE PEREGRINE FALCONS NESTING IN COLDWELL ROCKS
Coldwell Rocks tower over the River Wye and are home to a number of peregrine falcons which can be seen raising their young between April and August.
To get the best view, head up to Symonds Yat Rock or join the path that leads beside the river, just below Coldwell Rocks – even if you can’t see them clearly, you’ll definitely be able to hear them!
INDULGE IN CREAM TEA BY THE RIVER WYE
You’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of riverside cafes offering cream tea on your trip – and who doesn’t love a scone slathered in cream with a big dollop of jam, washed down with a good ole cuppa?
Our favourite places to get cream tea was Rose Cottage Tea Rooms and Terrace – it’s the perfect spot next to the river with not only great cream tea but homemade cakes, too.
SWING BY SOUDLEY PONDS
Soudley Ponds are filled with turquoise waters and surrounded by giant trees – they’re a real hidden gem.
You’ll find two ponds – which are more like lakes if you ask me – with a trail that leads around the edge. And, although a fairly short walk – perhaps no more than an hour – there are multiple points where the trail diverts towards other paths, allowing you to extend the walk if you wish.
If you’re big kids like us, you’ll also jump at the chance to hop on the swing that can be found near the smaller of the two ponds.
GO FOR DINNER IN THE ORANGERY AT THE SPEECH HOUSE
The Speech House dates back to the 17th century and is steeped in history; it offers both fine dining and a more relaxed meal in the Orangery to suit a variety of occasions.
We opted for dinner in the Orangery and were blown away at the quality of the food at such a reasonable price!
The Speech House also host various events such as wine and cocktail tasting, to name a few – it’s definitely worth checking out their website ahead of your visit to see what’s on.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the Wye Valley then The Speech House is also a hotel.
EXPLORE THE MANY WAKLING TRAILS AROUND THE FOREST OF DEAN
It should come as no surprise that the Forest of Dean is littered with hiking trails.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a relaxing woodland stroll through the forest or a steep and challenging clamber among the trees, you’ll certainly be able to find what you’re looking for.
Check out alltrails to find the perfect trail!
GIVE ROCK CLIMBING A BASH
Fasten up your helmet and take to one of the many cliff faces in the area to give rock climbing a go – you won’t regret it!
The three most popular locations for rock climbing in the Wye Valley are:
- Symonds Yat
- Wintours Leap
There are some great companies out there such as Rock & Sun who offer a range of climbing experiences tailored to your needs.
GRAB BRUNCH AT THE RIVERSIDE BAR AND EATERY
As the name suggests, this gorgeous spot sits beside the River Wye in Mordiford.
Serving everything from cream tea to big hearty meals, The Riverside Bar and Eatery is the perfect place to stop for a brunch after a morning of activities.
They also do some particularly great rocky-road cakes for those with a sweet tooth!
GET LOST AMONG THE TREES IN PUZZLEWOOD FOREST
Covering a whopping 14 acres of land and dating back to the Roman era, Puzzlewood Forest is home to giant trees that intertwine, unique rock formations with hidden caves, and secret passages.
Numerous pathways lead around the forest, with each twist and turn adding a little more magic to natures wonderful creations.
Initially, Tarzan springs to mind and I can’t believe this wasn’t featured in the film – it’s the perfect setting!
However, other well-known films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, The Secret Garden and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were filmed here, which is pretty cool.
Note: Unfortunately your furry friends are not allowed to enter Puzzlewood Forest as there is a working farm nearby.
EMBARK ON A SOLO PADDLEBOARDING ADVENTURE
Paddleboarding down the river is one of the best solo things to do in the Wye Valley – you don’t have anyone bossing you around to speed up or slow down – you can just paddle along at your own pace, enjoying every ounce of nature surrounding you.
Since the river spans all the way from the top to the bottom of the Wye Valley, there are plenty of companies offering up their paddleboards for use.
Below are just some of these companies:
- Wye Adventures
- Paddleboarding Adventures
DISCOVER THE MONEY TREE
Of the 20 million trees in the Forest of Dean – yes, you read that right, 20 million – there is one that’s a little extra special.
The Money Tree.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow money leaves to collect as you pass, but it has hundreds of coins hammered into it and is dubbed the wishing tree – so perhaps you can wish for some extra pounds instead!
Either way, it’s a pretty cool thing to see and can be found by following the trail down the river from Symonds Yat Rock.
TUCK INTO A TASTY RIVERSIDE MEAL AT THE SARACENS HEAD
Saracens Head is a popular spot among locals and tourists to grab a bite to eat.
Tucked between the cliffs with riverside views and offering undeniably great food, so it’s easy to see why the Saracens Head is a popular choice.
To avoid disappointment, ensure you book ahead of your trip.
TEST OUT SOME ARTISAN ICE CREAM
There is nothing better on a hot summers day than ice cream – and it’s even better when it’s handmade artisan ice cream.
With tonnes of unique flavours – some of which are alcoholic – Forest and Wye Artisan Ice Creams is the perfect place to head to when the sun makes an appearance.
Our favourites were the gin and pink grapefruit and the rhubarb crumble (seasonal).
FIND A PICNIC SPOT WITH A VIEW
With hundreds of acres of forest, dozens of lakes, and plenty of cliff edges to perch on, it’s easy to find a picnic spot with a view in the Wye Valley.
For those who want lakeside views then we recommend heading to Mallards Pike, Cannop Ponds or Soudely Ponds.
If you’re looking for views over the valley then Symonds Yat Rock, The Eagles Nest, or Devil’s Pulpit are great places to head to.
Hiring bikes is one of the most popular things to do in the Wye Valley due to the extensive amount of cycling trails around the forests.
It’s a great activity that suits all ages and you can even hire a trailer so that your dog can come on the adventure too.
For the extreme cyclists out there, then head to Cannop Cycle Centre to find numerous downhill trails.
VISIT GOODRICH CASTLE
The ruins of Goodrich Castle are spectacular and provide epic views over the valley. It dates back to the 11th century, however, it only began to gain popularity among tourists in the 20th century following numerous paintings and poems about the castle.
After gaining entry, you’re free to explore the castle and climb the turrets while following the information boards or listening to a free audio tape that enables you to cast your mind back to what it used to be like all those years ago!
FORAGE FOR YOUR FOOD
I don’t know about you, but food always tastes that little bit better when you’ve made it yourself.
So, when you’ve gone that one step further and foraged the food too, it tastes even more incredible.
Forage and Feast Cooking School teaches you exactly how to forage safely – as there are many nasty and poisonous things out there that need to be avoided – and help you turn it into a delicious and tasty meal.
Hopefully, you’ll leave Forage and Feast Cooking School with a new love for cooking, just as we did.
CHECK OUT TINTERN ABBEY
Tintern Abbey is a stunning derelict monastery that dates back to the 16th century that, much like Goodrich Castle, has featured in many poems and painting over the years.
Around the abbey, there are information boards, as well as a shop to pop into after.
We recommend combining this trip with a walk around the surrounding areas as the scenery is spectacular!
CLAMBER OVER BIBLINS BRIDGE
Biblins Bridge spans across the River Wye and is bouncy, to say the least.
As such, if you don’t like heights and uneven surfaces then perhaps give this one a miss.
However, if you’re up for the challenge then it’s worth incorporating Biblins Bridge into one of the many Wye Valley walks that are available at your fingertips!
MEANDER THE STREETS OF ROSS-ON-WYE
One of the most well-known towns in the area is Ross-on-Wye; a quaint riverside town that can be easily spotted from a great distance due to St Mary’s Church poking out above the town.
You can easily spend a few hours roaming around the streets of Ross-on-Wye and darting down little side alleys. However, if there’s one place to stop then it’s Thorns Coffee Lounge – they do a range of scrumptious breakfasts and even better Oreo cake!
WATCH A FILM AT AN INDEPENDANT CINEMA
Regular cinemas are always good, but small independent cinemas like the Palace Cinema are even better.
You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time when you set foot inside, as many of the old historic features from the early 1900’s still remain.
The Palace Cinema plays both old and current films and offers all the usual tasty snacks and drinks that are required to make a movie night fantastic!
GET LOST IN THE GIANT MAZE
Whether you’re an adult or a child, putting your navigation skills and sense of direction (none of which I have) to the test in order to find the temple in the middle of the giant maze is a great – and incredibly challenging – thing to do in the Wye Valley.
And, at over a kilometre long, this maze isn’t as easy as it may look!
If you still have some energy once you’ve conquered the maze, there is also mini-golf, laser tag and a butterfly farm nearby.
GET ADVENTUROUS WITH AN OFF-ROADING EXPERIENCE
Tom loves a flood – the first thing he does is grab his keys and set off to find some deep water to trawl through in the car.
I can’t relate – all that runs through my mind is ‘what if you break the car and I have to come and rescue you?’.
However, when it comes to off-roading in someone else’s car then sure, why not?
Whitecliff 4×4 Off-Road Driving Center allow their guests to grab a Land Rover and take it for a spin – or rather a splash – through the river, up the side of the daunting cliff edges and much more!
They offer half-day and full-day experiences for anyone over the age of 14.
TAKE A TRIP ON THE STEAM TRAIN
We absolutely love a steam train – we love hopping on board and transporting ourselves back to the olden days, chugging along while soaking up the scenery and snacking on sweet treats.
Dean Forest Railway runs from Lyndey to Park End and takes approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes.
There are also a variety of different packages available to turn the trip into an experience rather than just a means of transport.
Below are some of the different options available:
- Evening Steam Train Fish & Chip Supper
- The Santa Special
- Murder Mystery on the Steam Train
- Royal Forester Evening Dining Train
GO FOR DINNER AT THE POTTING SHED
The Potting Shed is a traditional cobbled pub in Whitchurch.
The best way I can describe visiting The Potting Shed is by comparing it to a trip to your Nans – which is not at all insulting!
The cosy log burner, floral sofas and dainty china tea sets make the restaurant feel like a home away from home – top that off with some heartwarming food and it makes for a fantastic dining experience!
CRAWL AROUND CLEARWELL CAVES
Not all of the beauty in the Wye Valley sits above ground, as beneath the surface is the magnificent and natural Clearwell caves.
The winding walkways within Clearwell Caves navigate their way to different chambers, all while providing heaps of historical information about the mining in the area.
The caves are beautifully lit with a rainbow of lights and often decorated to match the season – particularly at Christmas!
If you’re visiting Clearwell Caves at the right time, you may also catch an underground event – usually music-related!
LYDNEY PARK ESTATE
Lydney Park Estate is home to a stunning 17th-century mansion house and set on some incredible grounds.
The grounds are home to Roman ruins, fountains, acres of woodland, wildlife, and neatly kept gardens with a plethora of fauna and flora that is undeniably beautiful – it’s every gardener’s dream location.
After spending an hour or so wandering the grounds of the Lydney Park Estate, be sure to pop into the museum and cafe for some homemade cake and a pot of tea!
GRAB BREAKFAST FROM MAD NANA’S TEAROOM
Located in Cinderford is Mad Nana’s Tea Rooms and they offer all sorts of delicious food and sweet treats.
If you happen to be in the area then it’s definitely worth swinging by for breakfast – we highly recommend their eggs benedict in and honeycomb milkshake!
Tip: Mad Nana’s Tea Rooms is close to Soudely Ponds if you want to combine the trip.
SMARTS CHEESE MAKING
If you want to combine your trip to the Wye Valley with education then definitely head to Smarts Cheese Farm just outside of Gloucester for something a little different.
As a family-run cheese farm, the owners go over and above to show their guests exactly how they make their cheese so award winningly great.
The process of making cheese is interesting and the end product from Smarts Cheese Farm is definitely worth taking away to share with friends and family!
GET CREATIVE AT YAT POTTERY
Adam and his team at Yat Pottery in Symonds Yat offer up their skills to teach less skilled people like you and me how to create a pottery masterpiece.
They provide 121 sessions, as well as group sessions of up to 4 people – it’s the perfect thing to do on a rainy day in the Wye Valley for all ages!
HARTS BARN COOKERY SCHOOL
Whether you’ve never cooked a meal in your life or you’re looking to level up your cooking skills, Harts Barn Cookery School caters to all; their goal is to make cooking accessible for all ages and across a range of levels at an affordable price.
Below are just a few of the classes which they offer:
- Pasta making
- World Curries
- Kids Cookery
- Family Cooking Experience
- Cheese, Chutney & Bread
- Chocolate Bars
WATCH THE SUNRISE AT TINTERN ABBEY
Alternatively, catch the sunset – our second favourite time to hike – only knocked off the top spot due to the significantly more people around at that time of day.
Tintern Abbey is a great place to watch the sunset in the Wye Valley.
…OR THE SUNSET AT SYMONDS YAT ROCK
One of our favourite times to hike is at sunrise; with fewer hikers on the path, little more than nature can be heard – it’s tranquil.
We highly recommend hiking up to Symonds Yat Rock at sunrise as the orange sky reflecting in the River Wye is pretty awesome stuff!
TEST YOUR CRAFT SKILLS WITH MOSAIC MAKING
Head to Lyndey Park Estate to get the creative juices flowing and create a special keepsake of your trip.
With a wide range of workshops to choose from, there is something for every type of customer and budget!
RELAX WITH A SPA DAY
With so many energetic things to do in the Wye Valley, taking a day off and heading to the spa for some much-needed downtime might be a good idea – after all, a holiday is meant to be relaxing!
With an outdoor pool that overlooks the valley, Wye Valley Spa is certainly one of the best places to head to!
It’s important to note that this spa is for ladies only – I’ll let you decide whether that’s a pro or con!
VISIT THE CHOCOLATE BAR
There are two reasons why you can visit The Chocolate Bar – for a masterclass in chocolate making or to engorge in the many ready-made chocolate treats available – neither will disappoint.
The workshop will teach you how to craft the perfect box of chocolates using numerous techniques, whilst engorging in the ready-made chocolate treats will likely leave you bouncing off the walls – and possibly slightly sick.
The good kind of sick though.
Our favourite was the peanut butter jelly!
GET TIPSY AT THE SILVER CIRCLE GIN DISTILLERY
Now, we had to save this one until last – what better way to finish a trip than with a boozy visit to the Silver Circle Gin Distillery?
Patrick and his team at The Silver Circle Gin Distillery hold a wealth of knowledge and deliver the tour with the perfect balance of humour and education.
Of course, it’s fascinating to learn about the mechanics of how gin ends up on our supermarket shelves, yet the real treat is getting to choose the botanicals to go into your very own – very generous – bottle of gin!
WHERE IS THE WYE VALLEY
The top of the Wye Valley is near Hereford and the bottom is near Chepstow – check out the interactive map below for the exact location!
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE WYE VALLEY
With so many things to do in the Wye Valley, it’s great at any time of the year. However, if you love the outdoors like us, then we recommend any time between April and October.
While April and May will be cooler, the summer months will undoubtedly be hotter, October should be cool and provide all the dreamy autumnal vibes thanks to the wealth of forest available.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE WYE VALLEY
The Wye Valley is remote and predominantly made up of beautiful leafy green forests (dependant on the time of year, of course) and small roads that connect the little towns dotted across the area. As such, the best way to travel around is by car.
If you need to hire a car then you can do so on Klook or Skyscanner – these are both super reliable platforms that always provide the best deals when it comes to renting a car.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE WYE VALLEY
BUDGET – OLD COURT HOTEL AND SUITS
The Old Court Hotel & Suites is a pretty good steal if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to stay during your trip.
Set in a gorgeous manor house with exposed beams, it’s filled with charm and character. It’s also a small hotel of just 18 rooms which gives it a really nice intimate feel!
Check prices: The Old Court Hotel & Suites
Located in Tintern, The Wild Hare is the perfect pet-friendly mid-range hotel in the heart of the Wye Valley, making it a great base to enjoy all of the wonderful things to do in the area.
Its cobbled stone exterior and modern interior provide the perfect balance of cosiness and practicalness with all of the latest facilities for convenience.
Check prices: The Wild Hare
On the outskirts of the Wye Valley is The New Inn – a fantastic Tudor style house decorated with a plush interior for a luxurious stay.
If you opt for the superior king room, you’ll enjoy a freestanding bath before a night beside the log-burner enjoying some top quality food prepared by the highly skilled in-house chefs!
Check prices: The New Inn
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN THE WYE VALLEY
So, what do you think about all of the fantastic things to do in the Wye Valley? Are you surprised at how much it has to offer? I know we were! This true hidden gem in the UK is certainly one to explore – let us know how you get on in the comments down below!
Discover more nearby:
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- A WONDERFUL COTSWOLDS ITINERARY FOR A FAIRY-TALE WEEKEND AWAY
- 9 ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN THE COTSWOLDS FOR A COUPLES BREAK
Millie & Tom x
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