Wye Valley AONB

Yat Rock - Wye Valley AONB, England
Yat Rock, Wye Valley AONB © http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk

The Wye Valley – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located along the England and Wales border, the area was first designated a AONB back in 1971 the area covers over just 320 square kilometres; it is currently the only protected area that straddles both the English and Welsh border. The Wye Valley is well known for the lowland river landscapes, woodlands, tranquillity, rich variety of wildlife habitats and heritage.

The local population of approx 25,000 live in local villages and towns located across the AONB such as Ross-on-Wye, St Briavels and Brockhampton. The area covered under the AONB designation covers an area starting from close to Hereford in the north to Coleford in the east to Monmouth in the west to Chepstow in the south. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Scheduled Monuments and National Nature Reserves (NNR).

The key features and special qualities of the Wye Valley AONB include the river landscapes, range of wildlife habitats, exceptional landscapes including limestone gorge and native woodlands, cultural heritage and historical sites, legacies and settlements. The area is important for wildlife and habitats with a number of protected sites. The key features combined with the tranquillity and unspoilt nature of the site and stunning gorge scenery makes the area special.

The main industries in the AONB include farming, agriculture, forestry and tourism. The area is popular among visitors and attracts visitors for day trips, short breaks, holidays and for a number of recreational activities. There are a number of scenic historic villages located in the AONB, that picturesque town of Ross-on-Wye is the only town in the area. Main settlements located close by include Abergavenny, Newport, Hereford and the city of Gloucester.

The area is popular for outdoor activities wildlife watching, horse riding, climbing, caving, canoeing, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy the natural environment and scenic river landscapes that rank among the finest in England and Wales.

Quick Facts

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1971

Population: 25,000 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 326

Scheduled Monuments: 27

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): 45

National Nature Reserves: 4

Scheduled Monuments: 123

Main Settlements close by: Abergavenny, Bristol, Newport, Gloucester and Hereford.

Located in: Herefordshire, Gloucestershire (England) and Monmouthshire (Wales).


The Wye Valley AONB straddles the England and Wales border; 46% of the AONB is located in Herefordshire in the West Midlands with 36% in Monmouthshire in South Wales and 18% in Gloucestershire in the Forest of Dean district in south west England. The AONB has rich woodland making up 27% of the area with agricultural land accounting for 58% of the area.

The location of the Wye Valley in the south west of England/Welsh border provides visitors with a scenic haven away from the traffic and congestion of built up southern England, visitors can discover some of the finest and most scenic countryside in the UK offering inspiring views, attractive market towns and great landscapes.

The AONB is well known for the lowland river landscapes, impressive limestone gorge scenery, dense ravine woodlands, a range of wildlife and habitats, a number of archaeological and industrial remains reflecting the history of the area and impressive geology including Old Red Sandstone and Silurian limestones. The AONB is on the England/Wales border; the area is a popular day trip and short breaks destination.

The AONB includes a number of settlements, the AONB area itself does not include any major towns or cities falling within the AONB boundary, local settlements include St Briavels, Brockhampton and Ross-on-Wye; visitors can discover a number of charming villages and historic market towns.

The Wye Valley AONB has a rich history and includes various landscapes and scenic environments for visitors to explore; the area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Local towns located close to the AONB border include the Abergavenny and Newport in South Wales and Hereford and the city of Gloucester in south west England. The local towns provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Wye Valley AONB and surrounding areas in South Wales and South West England.

The Area of Outstanding Beauty area enjoys a similar level of protection given to National Parks meaning commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to help protect and maintain the special qualities of the area. The area offers plenty for visitors to see and enjoy, the proximity of the Wye Valley to nearby Malvern Hills AONB to the north east and the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales to the west means time permitting visitors could explore all three in a trip to the area.

The location in the south west of England means the AONB is easily assessable from across the south west and south east England, the Midlands, East of England and Wales. From Newcastle, Durham and much of north east England the area is 5 to 6 hours by car, from Leeds it is 3.5 to 4 hours by car, from Birmingham and much of the Midlands it is 1 hours 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes. From Liverpool and Manchester it is approx 3 hours to 3 hours 45 minutes.

From Cambridge and much of the East of England it is 3 to 4 hours by car. From Cardiff and South Wales it is 1 to 2 hours by car. From London and much of southern England it is 3 to 4 hours drive by car.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at various locations close by to the Wye Valley AONB. There are centres located in Abergavenny, Chepstow, Monmouth and Hereford. The tourist information centres can provide visitors with useful information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas.

Each of the tourist information centres has knowledgeable staff with valuable local knowledge with information on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area. At the centres visitors can find out about local events, public transport options and accommodation facilities.

Local Accommodation includes a range of hotels including historic and contemporary, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in St Breviels, Bockhampton and Ross-on-Wye. Towns located in the area including Abergavenny, Newport, Hereford and the city of Gloucester, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas.

The Wye Valley AONB is a place where visitors can enjoy river landscapes with inspiring natural scenery with a number of panoramic views where it is possible to get away from it all. There are a number of small settlements in the AONB, many of the towns and villages in the AONB have preserved their history, traditions and heritage, with a number of local attractions and places of interest to discover.

Local Towns and Villages include Ross-on-Wye located 25 miles to the north of Chepstow in the heart of the Wye Valley in Herefordshire. Currently it is the only town that falls within the AONB boundary; the historic market town hosts regular markets on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The town is located on the River Wye and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the British tourist industry; in the 18th and 19th centuries the area became a popular attraction for visitors attracted by the landscapes, scenery and historical buildings.

The town includes a market square, scenic local streets and a number of independent shops. Local attractions include St Mary's Church; the parish church has been established for 700 years in the town and is one of the most recognisable and prominent landmarks in the local area known for its tall pointed spire. The Market House Heritage Centre is located in a historic building dating back to the 17th century, visitors can fin more information on the history, life and times of the town of Ross-on-Wye. Visitors can see the audio/visual display and learn more about the town and its history going back to the Stone Age. There are exhibitions and displays of works from local artists and crafts people.

Brockhampton is a village located just over 30 miles north of Chepstow in the north of the Wye Valley AONB. The scenic village provides a picture perfect of an attractive English village. Local attractions include the Church of All Saints dating back to the start of the 20th century, located in scenic countryside; the church is famous for being one of the few thatched churches in the UK. The church is a Grade I listed building and a replica has been built in Osaka, Japan on the 21st and 22nd floors of a high rise hotel, the replica allows Japanese couples seeking a church building wedding to be married at home.

St Briavels is located 8 miles north of Chepstow in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The village is located on a plateau above the Wye Valley standing at close to 800 feet above sea level. With this altitude the village offers visitors some wonderful views over the Wye Valley.

The village is well known for the historic St Briavels Castle; a Norman fortress it is a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Monument and is currently a youth hostel. Managed by English Heritage the castle is open to the public to explore, the impressive building is imposing and is noted for its Edwardian gatehouse and design features. Historically the castle was the administrative centre for the Royal Hunting Forest and was once used as a prison and court.

Local attractions include the St Mary's Church, St Briavels, the church dates back to the late 19th century and is noted for its gothic revival architecture. The village hosts a local farmers market where visitors can find a range of organic vegetables, cider, cheeses, honey, wine and other local products. In the summer there is a fete known locally as the 'Carnival'; usually held in the second Saturday in June. Visitors can see fancy dresses and carnival floats, the carnival is a popular attraction attracting large crowds.

Chepstow is located 25 south of Ross-on-Wye in Monmouthshire in Wales. The historic border market town has been referred to as the gateway to the Wye Valley. The town includes a number of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants offering a choice of local facilities and food and drinks options. Historically the town grew as a port and trading centre, today the economy is based on services and tourism. Chepstow is still a market town holding regular markets on Sundays.

Local attractions include Chepstow Museum housed inside a historic town house close to the town centre dating back to the late 18th century. The museum showcases the industrial and social history of the town from its place as a trading port in medieval times to more modern times and how its location in the Wye Valley has attracted a number of poets and painters over the years. Visitors can explore a number of exhibitions, displays and artefacts in the museum with a number of photographs, prints, drawings and historical relics on display taking visitors through time.

St Mary's Church, Chepstow is a Grade I listed building located in the town dating back to the late 11th century. The church has been modified over the years an includes design elements from Norman and later styles.

Chepstow Castle is one of the most recognisable and best known attractions in the Wye Valley area. Located on a crag overlooking the river crossing between England and Wales, the Grade I listed building. The castle includes the oldest castle doors in Europe dating back 800 years, the castle is known for its transformation from the 11th to 17th centuries when the appearance of the castle constantly evolved in military architecture. Visitors can tour the castle and there are a number of special events at the castle each year.

The location of Chepstow on the edge of the Wye Valley AONB along with the local amenities, facilities and local accommodation and transport links make the town a popular place for visitors to base themselves from when exploring the Wye Valley and surrounding areas on the English/Welsh border.

Walking offers visitors the most cost effective and environmentally friendly ways to discover the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Wye Valley AONB includes a choice of landscapes and terrain including wooded trails and public footpaths, offering shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities. The area includes a number of local beauty spots along with evidence of the area's rich industrial and cultural past.

Walks include the Wye Valley Walk, a 136 mile trail from Chepstow to Plynlimon going through some of the finest scenery in the AONB including ravine gorge, riverside meadows, hills, mountains and rugged and remote uplands. The route is varied and highlights include Chepstow Castle, Goodrich Castle, Campler Camp Hillfort and wildlife includes buzzards and peregrine falcons.

Cycling provides both a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Wye Valley AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes, bridleways, tracks and more challenging terrain making the area suitable for cyclists of all abilities. There are a number of cycle routes in the area these include; the Peregrine Path is a 8 mile route starting from Monmouth and ending in Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye taking visitors through some of the finest scenery in the Wye Valley AONB.

Visitors to the Wye Valley AONB on the English and Welsh border will find a quiet, scenic area that retains its charm and character. Visitors can explore a number of historic villages and market towns in and around the AONB. A visit to the Wye Valley AONB offers visitors some of the finest river landscapes and scenic countryside in England and Wales.

How to Get There

The Wye Valley AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The city of Gloucester is located close to the AONB area; providing a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation, facilities and local amenities. Located approx 115 miles from central London. From London take the A40 then the M40 up to junction 8 and exit on to the A40 for Cheltenham. Continue along the A40 until the junction for the A436; exit on to the A436 then take the A417. From the A417 take the A40 then turn right on to the B4215 and continue on to the B4221. From the B4221 exit on the M50 towards Ross. From the M50 exit on to the A449/A40; then turn left on to the A40 and then at the roundabout take the right turning for the B4260 that goes to Ross-on-Wye. The approx journey time is 3 to 4 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

From London Paddington station there are regular services to Gloucester train. The journey time is approx 2 hours depending on service, connections and time of day. From Gloucester there are bus services to Ross-on-Wye via Stagecoach in Wye and Dean route number 33; the approx journey time is 45 minutes. Services from Gloucester to Ross-on-Wye are proved by Stagecoachbus

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria Coach station to Ross-on-Wye. The approx journey time is 3 hours 35 minutes to 4 hours depending on connections, time of day and traffic. Coach services to Ross-on-Wye are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Wye Valley AONB
Hadnock Road
NP25 3NG

Telephone: +44 (0)1600 713977

Website: Wye Valley AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Wye Valley (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Wye Valley AONB on the England/Wales border ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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