Symonds Yat

Join me at Symonds Yat for a 5 mile walk along the banks of the river Wye where Herefordshire meets Gloucestershire. Add a 1 mile detour to take in the spectacular views from the Yat Rock viewpoint.

(This article was originally published at on 25 May 2009.)

The area around Symonds Yat in the Wye valley has something for everyone. Family activities, camping and hotels, restaurants and pubs, cruises, canoeing, good walks and breathtaking views. All prices quoted are correct at the time of writing (May 2009).

Finding Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat is situated just off the A40 between Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth. Follow the signs to Symonds Yat (West) along the B4164 until you reach the car park. Parking is priced at £2 all day and tickets are available from several machines.

Family Friendly Activities

There are many family activities to be found close to the car park on this side of the river. Leaving the car park to the left you will find the butterfly zoo, the hedge puzzle maze and a 12 hole miniature golf course with a Roman theme.

River Cruises on the Wye

River Cruises on the Wye

To the right of the car park there is a small fun fair and amusement arcade, as well as a restaurant and gift shop. Camping facilities can also be found here. River cruises are available at regular intervals for those who would like a leisurely trip up and down the Wye. Check the board for the next departure time.

Starting the Walk

But we must leave all this behind us for now and start the walk. Head towards the river between the gift shop and the wishing well. Take a right at the river cruises departure point and follow the path close to the river bank.

Go through the gate and continue walking next to the river for about half a mile. At the end of the path is the car park for Ye Olde Ferrie Inne.

At the end of the car park walk up the slope to the right. Then take the slope to the left that leads around the back of the pub. Walk along this path, between houses set into the hillside, until reaching the ferry crossing point opposite the Saracen’s Head pub.

Crossing the River by Ferry

The ferry is operated by hand and crosses between the banks of the river all day. The ferryman pulls the ferry across by using a rope strung above him and tethered to each bank. Prices are £1 for adults, 50p for children and 50p for bicycles. The ferry crossing can become very popular in the afternoons so it is best to cross here as early as possible.

On disembarking from the ferry turn to the right towards the car park of the Royal Lodge hotel. Be careful here as the route is along the road.

Detour to Yat Rock Viewpoint

Turn to the left at the entrance to the car park and take the path signposted to Yat Rock. This half mile path can be very steep in places and, higher up, a series of steps zigzag towards the top. A bench has been provided for the weary traveller about half way up.

View Of The Wye Valley From Yat Rock

View Of The Wye Valley From Yat Rock

At the top of the steps the path opens out into a large green area with picnic tables. To the right is a café and gift shop and beyond this is – a car park! Yes, we could have driven to the viewpoint instead of walking up the side of the hill, but where would be the fun in that?

The Views From Yat Rock

From the top of the steps follow the wooden bridge ahead and slightly to the left. At the end of the bridge is the viewpoint, from which spectacular views can be seen.

As well as the views of the river valley, woodland and villages, Yat Rock viewpoint is also a excellent place for spotting wildlife, especially birds. Among the species that can be seen here are birds of prey such as buzzards, kestrels and peregrines. Sadly, the one pair of peregrines that are currently using the cliffs of Coldwell Rocks for nesting have failed to hatch any eggs for two years running.

Return across the bridge to the picnic area and, from there, back down the steps and path. On reaching the Royal Lodge car park we can continue our original route.

The Rapids

At the end of the car park take the path through Highmeadow Woods. This is also a cycle route so look out for cyclists. At various places along the route there are parallel paths closer to the river bank that have much better views of the river.

After about a quarter of a mile the rapids come into view. This is a favourite spot for canoeists so take a few moments to watch as they have fun being bounced down the river.

The Rapids On The Wye

The Rapids On The Wye

Continue past the rapids, taking every opportunity move to the paths closer to the river bank. Although it can be quite busy here, it is still very peaceful. Birdsong is plentiful and can be heard clearly.

Crossing the River by Bridge

After just over a mile of walking from the rapids it is time to cross the river again. This time we will cross by bridge. For safety reasons, only six people should cross at a time and passing on the bridge is not recommended.

Lord’s Wood

On the other side of the bridge is the Bilbins Adventure Centre and Youth Campsite. The path to the left leads to a tearoom, and eventually to Monmouth, but our route takes us to the right. The path leads between the edge of Lord’s Wood and the river bank.

Look out for wildlife, especially butterflies and moths. There are a couple of information panels by the side of the path describing which species of butterflies (including Holly Blue and Gatekeeper) and moths (including Speckled Yellow by day and Light Emerald by night) can be seen here.

Finishing the Walk

At the end of Lord’s Wood are the rapids again. Continue along the path to the ferry crossing, Ye Olde Ferrie Inne and, eventually, return to Symonds Yat (West) enjoying the views along the way.

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