Snaking the England-Wales border, the River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the UK. Named as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the river's 134 miles is adorned with dramatic scenery with sheer cliffs and cut gorges, rich wildlife habitats and an abundance of sites of historic and cultural significance - meaning plenty of exciting things to see and do!
About the Wye Valley
The Wye Valley has been a tourist hot spot since the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and thought to be the birthplace of British tourism.
It all started with Reverend John Egerton who sailed visitors along the River Wye sometime around 1750 on his ‘Wye Tour’, that's said to be one of the first package holidays. But it was English artist William Gilpin that propelled the area to fame through his works - Observations on the River Wye - thought to be the first tour guide to be published in Britain.
Through increased attention as a result of Gilpin's works, the once-private excursion for the reverend's visitors re to a demand for public tour boats - and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of William Gilpin taking the ‘Wye Tour’ in 1770. Be sure to stop into Chepstow's Tourist Information for a detailed brochure on the Wye Tour.
In recent times, the Wye Valley has seen a rise in popularity following the Netflix show Sex Education where many of the scenes were filmed in the village of Llandogo. But with 123 Scheduled Monuments 10 registered Parks and Gardens, 17 Conservation Areas and 915 Listed Buildings - there's plenty to see and do.
For more than six centuries Chepstow was home to some of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the medieval and Tudor ages - and over 600 years of history brings fascinating examples of innovative craftsmanship! Constructed no later than the 1190s, Chepstow has the oldest castle doors in Europe, revolutionary for their time, on display inside the castle.
Advanced booking required.
Old Wye Bridge
The Old Wye Bridge - also known as the Chepstow Bridge - is over 200 years old separating Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire. Built in 1816, the bridge is the world's largest iron arch road bridge from the first 50 years (1780-1830) of iron and steel construction, and boasts fantastic views of Chepstow Castle.
Wye Valley Meadery
Believed to be the world's oldest alcoholic drink dating back as far as back as 3000 BCE, mead is one of the few similarities between cultures of past eras. But no longer a refreshment for druids and monks, the Wye Valley Meadery brews a modern mead that’s innovative, light, refreshing and rich in flavour, and can be enjoyed in the same way as a beer, cider or sparkling wine.
Bound for life outdoors, brothers Matt and Kit turned away from corporate professions to pursue a more creative path that combined their love of nature with an interest in brewing - the Wye Valley Meadery.
Stationed in their purpose-built meadery in Chepstow, the brothers maintain some 150 hives using honey from bees in the Wye Valley. Enriched in biodiversity, the valley’s small leaf lime trees give the honey a distinct flavour.
Try your hand at beekeeping with their beekeeping courses, or for the adventurous, the meadery offers full afternoon mead making courses including refreshments and 5 litres of your own mead! (£48 per person)
The brother's hope to open a taproom so stay tuned on their socials!
Parva Farm Vineyard
Planted in 1979, Parva Farm is the oldest commercial vineyard in Wales with 17 different grape varieties - Pinot Noir being the most recognised. The self-guided tour (£2 per person) meanders through the vines, telling tales of harvest and pruning, spoiling visitors with a killer view of Tintern. The grapes grown on the farm turnover on average 6,000 bottles of a year dependent on the weather, with the 'Bacchus' being the most abundant.
The wines are available to sample and purchase in the farm shop.
Founded in 1131 by Cistercian monks, the abbey is the first Cistercian foundation in Wales, and only the second in Britain. The Gothic abbey stands roofless against the open sky as sadly, the abbey saw its demise during the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII’s English Reformation. Don't leave without trying a Brooke’s Wye Valley Dairy Company ice cream!
Advanced online booking is required.
Wye Valley Experience
A second arm of the Kingstone Brewery, the owners decided to combine their love of mountain bikes with the great outdoors for which they are located. Hire a Marin mountain bike to explore Tintern or make like Gilpin with a Canadian Canoe to experience the tranquillity of the River Wye.
Unfiltered, Uncompromised & Unashamedly Real - that's the motto of this 4 barrel craft brewery that's more than a slogan - it's their way of life. Located in the heart of the Wye Valley sheltered by woodland, Kingstone Brewery is a solitary setting for tasting, tours and bespoke events and parties with a Mediterranean style courtyard, rustic taproom and traditional brewery.
What was born out of a love for reenactments - resulting in a popular ale - the new family of eight embraced the deep-rooted history to expand the brewery into what it is today - keeping the traditional methods.
The brewery features an on-site shop, brewery tours and a taproom to enjoy the beverage (currently closed due to Covid)
Wye Valley Producers
Multiple award-winning food & drink producers have band together to form the Wye Valley Producers - a collaboration of the finest artisan producers located in the Wye Valley. Realising local customers were having to make multiple trips to collect their artisan goods, the group modernised 'click and collect' with an online food and drink producers market with the weekly drive-through collection. Customers simply place their order online, and collect during the net available Click & Collect event in Chepstow.
Thank you to Over the Bridge to Wales for arranging this press visit. I received no monetary fee in exchange for this review of the activities I experienced. All thoughts and opinions are my own.