Glasbury to Chepstow
The river Wye, on the England/Wales border, is one of the least spoiled large rivers in the United Kingdom.
In the 17th century an Act of Parliament removed riparian owners rights and confirmed it as a “free and open” navigation up to Hay and it became an important waterway in the early industrial era. Weirs of various degrees of permanence were built to allow large barges to pass and the river must have been fairly polluted. However with the development of canals and railways the commercial traffic disappeared and the river naturally cleansed itself. Over the last century fishermen have pushed to reduce pollution, followed more recently by a new constituency, canoeists. The following is a guide to finding camp sites and access for launching along the main canoe-touring stretch from Glasbury to Chepstow. Compiled from various sources and many paddles.
It seemed pretty clean when I first canoed it as a child in about 1970, and was still so when I last did so in Spring 2011. I predict that with increasing numbers of canoeists caring about the river, it will steadily improve.
From here to Hay access is disputed but the current informal agreement is for canoeing between 10 am and 4pm, leaving the morning and evening for the fishermen. The normal launching point is on the left bank just above the bridge. A fee of 50p per canoe is payable to the post office.
- 3 miles- Hollybush Inn right
- 4.5 miles – Broken weir. Shoot right
- 5.5 miles – Hay on Wye right
Shallows below the bridge.
Good public access on right bank 50 yards below the bridge. The campsite has no river access but is about 300 yds from the left bank below the bridge. Mr & Mrs Davies. Tel 01497 820780
- 10.25 miles – Whitney toll bridge. I love toll bridges. Imagine the environmental benefit if all roads were toll roads!
- 10.5 miles – Boat inn left. Camping
- 12 miles – Lockster’s pool. Camping right
- 16 miles – Turner’s boat. Camping.
- 19.5 miles – Bredwardine.
- 20.5 miles – Brobury scar
- 21.5 miles – Moccas Court right bank
- 22.5 miles – Byecross campsite right bank
- 22.75 miles – Monnington falls
- 23.5 miles – Preston
Half a mile below the falls on the right bank. Campsite basic, just a tap, and a Portaloo from April-Oct, but great site (like Locksters Pool) if you like peace and quiet. Open fire allowed so long as you only use driftwood. Pub.
NOTE Unless you are prepared to camp on an island or to use the Hereford Racecourse site, which is well back from the river, the next campsite is 20 miles downstream at Holme Lacey.
- 23.75 miles – Byford
- 28 miles – Weir gardens
Land right below the old road bridge. This is a public park with plenty of pay and display car parks. No permission required to land or launch but the nearest camping is at Hereford Race Course two miles from the river on the other side of town. Open April to September. Tel 01432 272634
Colin Wilkinson reports “Hereford Rowing club allow camping in their field, best to call first. You get use of their showers, pay at the bar, though they’re not sure of the price, we were charged £5 per head, the next couple £5 per tent. Excellent, as very close to town”.
Headquarters of Bulmers cider. Market demand is leading the world’s largest cider company to promote organic cider and to encourage local apple farmers to change to organic methods
- 34.5 miles – railway bridge
- 35 miles – Bartonsham sewage outfall
In 1988 this treatment works run by the Welsh Water Authority was the subject of questions in Parliament for failing pollution standards. Since privatisation it has been substantially upgraded and effluent quality has improved.
- 37 miles – Wye invader
- The river cuts into the St Maughans formation of old red sandstone at two sharp left hand bends under cliffs at 40 and 41 miles. Holme Lacy village lies at the top of the latter cliff. Between the two bends the river has recently moved but the old cliffs mark its old course
- 42 miles – confluence with river Lugg
- 42.5 miles – Holme Lacey bridge
- 51 miles – Hoarwithy
Two campsites here. Tresseck farm reopened in 2003. Landing steps on right below the bridge. Portaloos. Open fires allowed with driftwood. Click here for their wonderful website with fine pictures of the river access. A grand site.
Mr. Jenkins 400 yards below the bridge on the left is another super site but a longer walk into the village. To reach the village directly land on the right immediately below the bridge. It’s rather steep. ¼ mile to Hoarwithy.
The New Harp Inn is a wonderful friendly pub. In 2003 the landlord let us camp for nothing so long as we drank his beer
- 57 miles – Hole in the wall
- 61 miles – road bridge
- 61.25 miles rowing club left
You can usually camp here, but do ask first. They’ll make a small charge if they remember what it is!
- 61.75 miles – Ross on Wye
It replaced an earlier wooden bridge. as well as at least one ferry. There was also a ford on the same site. It was originally a toll bridge. 🙂 In my humble opinion the next stretch of river, Ross to Tintern, is the finest stretch of canoe touring in the world.
- 67.2 miles – Goodrich castle
- 67.5 miles – Kerne bridge. Don’t try landing at the bridge.
About here the river starts to cut a deep gorge, first into the harder upper red sandstone and after a short distance into the carboniferous limestone of the forest of Dean.
- 69 .5 miles – Lower Lydbrook
Picnic site and car park on left bank just above the rapids. W.C. Pub. Honesty box, but landing has not been allowed here since Oct 2006
- 70 miles – Welsh Bicknor
- 74 miles – Huntsman’s bridge. Access right.
- 75.5 miles – Symonds Yat West
Pick-up/Drop-off point (fee). Pub. W.C. Camp/Caravan Site. Good site. All facilities, but often fully booked and they may not take single night bookings in summer. March to October.
A garish funfair, some sort of children’s maze, and motor boats plying tourists up and down the river rather spoil the splendid natural beauty of Symonds Yat for me. I don’t think we can blame the government for the funfair or the motor boats directly, although the maze is Lottery funded
- 76 miles – Symonds Yat East
- 76 miles – Symonds Yat rapids
The British Canoe Union (BCU) bought this stretch of river in 2003 for £125,000 and put rocks and other obstructions in the river to create a slalom course. They said that otherwise the rapids would have disappeared. The taxpayer (the Environment Agency) contributed £50,000 :(.
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. One part of me wants the river left as nature intended. Another says that if people are prepared to pay for artificial rapids, who am I to stop them. I even discovered that I had contributed to the original campaign to buy the rapids! Keeping hundreds of canoeists bunched up in the 100 yard stretch probably improves the experience for tourers elsewhere.
- 77 miles – Biblins campsite and footbridge. Adventure centre site geared to youth groups. It’s not really suited to family campers.
- 79 miles – Seven sisters rocks right. The river is now cutting through carboniferous limestone.
- 82 miles – Wye bridge, Monmouth
Excellent access adjacent to the rowing club on the right before the Wye bridge. Car park. Don’t attempt to land at the Monmouth school rowing club on the left back just above the bridge – they are not welcoming. Camp site on bank of river Monnow at Monnow Bridge.
- Bigsweir bridge A466. Originally a toll bridge. Here’s the old toll house.
- 91.5 mile – Brockweir bridge. Land left just upstream of bridge. Beyond here the river is tidal and muddy. Experts only.
- 93.5 miles – Tintern bridge and Abbey. Land right, just before the abbey and car park, in front of small houses. Easy to miss, muddy, slippery steps and metal platform to pull boats up on. Free parking and easy access for pick-up vehicles, lovely public loos nearby, tea rooms further up village.
- 100 miles – Chepstow. Landing point. Car park (fee). Camp site 2 miles from river: Mrs M. Cracknell, Beeches Farm, Tel 01291 689257