What it's like
Trapped in between two of Wales’s mightiest rivers, the Wye and the Usk, and pressed up against the border with England; this fertile pocket of land could be easily overlooked in the race to head west, but to do so would be a huge mistake as it conceals some of the principality’s finest treasures including a number of wonderful historic buildings, some charming little towns and huge tracts of pristine deciduous woodland.
The Wye Valley is the area’s biggest draw, especially south of Monmouth, where the now lazy waterway winds its way through wonderful wooded gorges, passing close to the atmospheric ruins of Tintern Abbey as it drops towards it confluence with the Severn at Chepstow. Offa’s Dyke Footpath follows its eastern bank at this point, and the Wye Valley Walk hugs the western shores. Linking both with bridges at Chepstow and Tintern makes one of the area’s most rewarding outings.
But north of here there’s plenty to see too. In particular the spectacular three castles: Skenfrith, Grosmont and White – undisputed proof that the area was valued by the Normans who built them.
The Usk also slows down with age; and by the time it reaches the town of the same name it’s become tranquil rather than exciting – a sylvan ribbon that now turns south towards the tidal reaches of Newport. It’s a muddy ditch by the time it does make the sea, but by then it has passed by the site of some of the finest Roman ruins in the land: Caerleon – a must see for anyone interested in history.
- Chepstow to Tintern Circular A big day out that follows both the east and west banks of the Wye at its most lovely.
- Three Castles A 17 mile circuit that links all three and crosses some fine countryside as it goes.
- A circuit above Monmouth Link the Wye Valley Walk with Offa’s Dyke Path to make a scenic circuit above the ancient town.
Must see and do
- Paddle the Wye Many outfitters rent out boats and organise shuttles so an easy descent of the river can be made www.wyevalleycanoes.co.uk
- Climbing on Wintour’s Leap There are plenty of epic easy-grade lines on these towering limestone cliffs north of Chepstow.
- Caerleon A time capsule that offers a real insight into Roman Britain. If ever there was a reason to visit Newport.
Destination County : Wye Valley & Vale of Usk