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A riverside hike from lowlands to mountains — Wye Valley Walk

Doolallyally (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A riverside hike from lowlands to mountains — Wye Valley Walk

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

10-22

days

3-6 h

/ day

148 mi

14,125 ft

13,150 ft

The Wye Valley Walk follows the River Wye along the battle-scarred Anglo-Welsh border through woodlands, pastures, orchards, and lonely moors to its mountain source.

The 136-mile (218-kilometer) trail follows the Wye from Chepstow in Monmouthshire, through Herefordshire to the slopes of Plynlimon in Powys, Wales.

A wonderfully-contrasting hike, the trail takes you through deep limestone gorges, ancient woodlands, water meadows, cider orchards, farmsteads, sleepy villages, rugged moors, and wild mountain tops

There is plenty of history to observe along the way. From prehistoric standing stones to Iron Age hillforts, 10th century castles to 12th century churches, there is plenty to see. Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, and Hereford Cathedral are some of the star attractions.

Wildlife is abundant along the way, too. The Wye is well-known for displays of wild salmon leaping upstream to breed. However, there is much more to see. Keep a look-out for buzzards, red kites, kestrels, tawny owls, otters, weasels, badgers, hares, foxes, hedgehogs, and more.

Whilst there are some steep and rocky sections, tough climbs, and challenging distances to contend with, the trail predominantly follows easy pathways through gently undulating countryside, making it a good choice for all levels of expertise.

In this Collection, we split the route into nine stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Chepstow, which is served by direct trains from Cardiff and Gloucester, among others, and has connecting services around Britain.

Awkwardly, the Wye Valley Walk ends abruptly in a remote spot with no public transport. The easiest thing to do is arrange a pick-up or a taxi from the Rhyd-y-benwch car park, which is close to the finish.

Alternatively, you can continue for another eight miles (13 kilometers) on the Severn Way to Llanidloes, which is well served by buses. If you choose this, the mountain detour shown on Stage 09 will be way too much. If you stick to the official route and continue to Llanidloes, the total distance is just less than 20 miles (32 kilometers).

Due to how long this hike and how remote this finish is, arriving by car is more trouble than it is worth. Public transport from Llanidloes back to Chepstow is convoluted and time-consuming—expect a minimum five-hour journey with four-or-five bus and train transfers.

There are no well-positioned places that are within easy reach of the start and finish either. If arriving by car is essential, your best bet might be to arrange for long-stay parking in Hereford, which has reasonable links to the start and finish.

For more information about the Downs Link, visit: wyevalleywalk.org.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.

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Wye Valley Walk

140 mi

12,400 ft

11,400 ft

Last updated: November 5, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 01: Chepstow to Monmouth — Wye Valley Walk

    Difficult
    07:54
    17.4 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,875 ft
    1,900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Atmospheric woodland, ancient ruins, waterfalls, and the beautiful lower Wye gorge await on this first stage.

    

    Following narrow paths through thick woodland, the trail climbs at points along the way; opening to reveal glorious views.

    

    From Chepstow Castle, the trail rises and falls gradually as it follows

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    07:42
    17.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,800 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage meanders along the upper Wye gorge amid impressive limestone cliffs.

    

    Whilst the hike is chiefly a flat riverside walk, there are occasional climbs that afford lovely views over the valley below.

    

    From Monmouth, you follow the river through open countryside and woodland before climbing to cut

    by Dan Hobson

    View
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  • Difficult
    07:48
    18.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,000 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A mix of riverside walking and woodland scrambling brings you to the cathedral city of Hereford.

    

    Exploring a landscape of pastoral riverside, hilly woodland, open countryside, black and white villages, orchards, and sandstone architecture, this is a wonderfully-contrasting hike.

    

    From Ross-on-Wye, it is

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    06:40
    15.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    625 ft
    525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This leisurely riverside amble takes you past orchards, meadows, sleepy villages, and pretty gardens.

    

    With almost no ascent and descent, this stage is one of the easiest on the itinerary and is well-placed after some tough hikes.

    

    Before you leave Hereford, it is worth a visit to see the city’s iconic cathedral

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    06:54
    15.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage takes you from England to Wales via castle ruins and lofty hilltop views.

    

    After a leisurely previous stage, you begin this hike with a tough slog over Bredwardine Hill and Merbach Hill. The reward for your efforts are lovely views over the stunning borderland scenery.

    

    You drop down to the river

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    07:06
    16.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This hike-of-two-halves begins on level riverside and finishes in the rugged upland terrain of Powys.

    

    From Glasbury, you follow the tree-lined banks of the River Wye through patchwork farmland and open countryside.

    

    You cross the river via Erwood Bridge and then begin a long and gradual ascent into wilder

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    07:25
    16.6 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,375 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The character of the trail takes on a lonelier and wilder character on this stage, as you continue climbing towards the source.

    

    This stage begins as a leisurely riverside stroll through patchwork countryside and small woodlands.

    

    At Llanwrthwl, it is worth a visit to St Gwrthwl's Church. Whilst the church

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    05:39
    12.2 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,625 ft
    1,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The penultimate stage takes you into a higher and wilder landscape at the foot of the mountains.

    

    From Rhayader, the trail rises through farmland and small woodlands to reach a high point just before Gilfach Nature Reserve.

    

    Gilfach is home to much flora and fauna. Keep a look-out for buzzard, red kite

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    08:59
    19.0 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,750 ft
    2,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage takes you into the most exposed and mountainous section of the entire trail.

    

    To make for an epic finish, this stage breaks away from the official route to take in some awesome peaks and landscapes that are a mere stone’s throw away.

    

    From Llangurig, the trail follows the fledgling River

    by Dan Hobson

    View

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    9
  • Distance
    148 mi
  • Duration
    66:07 h
  • Elevation
    14,125 ft13,150 ft

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A riverside hike from lowlands to mountains — Wye Valley Walk

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