It was Pete’s 32nd birthday at the beginning of August, and since we’ve been together, we always take a day off work to do something fun on our birthdays.
This year he decided he wanted to go canoeing on the River Wye. We go walking in that area quite often (it’s beautiful) but we hadn’t ever been out on the river before.
We booked our trip with Canoe the Wye, but there are a few different providers you can choose from in the area; canoeing is popular in these parts!
We chose to do the half-day canoe for two people which costs £50. This starts off from Kerne Bridge and ends up at Symonds Yet which usually takes about 3 hours of comfortable downstream paddling.
The trip is inclusive of canoe hire, equipment hire (paddles, bouyancy aids and dry barrels), transportation from Symonds Yat to the start point, launch fees, landing fees, laminated maps and a short, 15 minute safety briefing. The only additional cost is the parking fee at The Paddocks Hotel where you leave the car, which is £3 – £5 depending on duration.
Getting onto the water is a fairly straightforward affair – thankfully it’s easy to do so without falling in (even for someone with terrible balance like me).
I did worry when we started off that it was a bit busy, as lots of people were launching at the same time from the same place, but it didn’t take long for people to find their own pace and start drifting apart. And then we were treated to idyllic scenes like this…
After setting off from Kerne Bridge we soon passed through Lower Lydbrook. This is only 30 minutes downstream but lots of people decided to take a quick break here as refreshments are available – but we chose to press on…
Continuing along the Wye we passed Welsh Bicknor on the right and English Bicknor on the left. At Welsh Bicknor there is a lovely church and a former Rectory in the grounds, previously used for the residency of the parish priest. The Rectory is now owned by the YHA trust and is used as a youth hostel. The youth hostel is a great stop off for lunch or a snack as they serve tea, coffee and cake – but by now we’d hit our stride and wanted to carry on. The surrounding area has fantastic views looking down the Wye Valley so next time, we plan to make use of a large grassy area nearby that looks ideal for a picnic.
Just downstream of Welsh Bicknor we passed under an old railway bridge, which was formerly part of the Monmouth to Ross line. Shortly after is the area where the 18th century Rev. Gilpin first introduced the word ‘picturesque’ to the English language in describing the surrounding landscape. You can easily see why!
As the river started to turn west we came through a beautiful valley, with Ship Rock high above on our left. The cliffs that run along the skyline are Coldwell Rocks, home to the Peregrine falcon – which we could see and hear screeching in the sky above. The end of the line of cliffs is marked by Symonds Yat Rock.
As we passed the rocks there was a shingle beach running alongside a meadow on the opposite side – another lush spot that would be great to stop off for a picnic next time.
From here, the River Wye takes a long wide oval course, nearly coming back on itself at Symonds Yat. Once we’d paddled under the green Huntsham Bridge, from there it took about 25 minutes to get back to where we left the car, now with very achey arms.
If you’ve never tried canoeing on the River Wye, I can’t recommend it enough. A relaxing, eco-friendly way to appreciate the breathtaking scenery from a different angle – and get a decent arm workout at the same time!
For more info about the half-day canoeing trip that we took, visit: www.canoethewye.co.uk/half-day-canoe-hire.
Looking to stay in the Wye Valley? Check out my review of the incredible Wye Valley Forest Retreat nearby, which costs from at £147 a night and sleeps six people (meaning each person effectively pays less than £25 per head, per night). Bargain!