The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty contains some of the most breathtaking lowland scenery in Britain. From the rocky outcrop of Chepstow Castle, the River Wye meanders 44 miles through the valley to just south of Hereford .
The scenery includes spectacular limestone gorges and dense ravine woodlands. The area also offers a wonderful range of wildlife, interesting archaeological and industrial remains and important geological features. Iron has been made in the Wye Valley since Roman times and the first brass made in Britain was founded at Tintern in 1566.
The valley combines Welsh and English influences in a unique way. Considered to be the birthplace of British tourism, the Wye Tour has enthralled discerning visitors since the 18th Century. It features awesome castles , bustling market towns, fresh-farm produce and an artisan tradition. One of the castles you can visit is Chepstow Castle at the very entrance to Wales, which is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain.
Ross-on-Wye is the only town actually within the boundaries of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A small market town, it is known for its antique shops , market square with its market hall and high number of public houses .
Abergavenny lies on the banks of the River Usk and has always been an important marketplace serving the local countryside, it is also known as the gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park .
At the confluence of three rivers, the Wye, the Trothy and the Monnow you will find the town of Monmouth . It has a world famous 13th Century Gateway on the Monnow Bridge and boasts some fine Tudor and Georgian buildings.
Bookworms should visit Hay-on-Wye , known as the 'Town of Books', with thirty major bookshops mostly selling second hand books. The town also boasts two castles!
You can also visit the magnificent ruins of Tintern Abbey , built by the Cistercian Monks in 1131, which inspired the William Wordsworth poem "Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey".
Offa's Dyke was built in the 8th century under King Offa, closely following the River Wye, to mark out the boundary between England and Wales. Today it is the longest archaeological monument in Britain. Offa's Dyke Path long distance footpath traces the route through the Wye valley.
The area is carefully managed to protect the environment, there are many walks to be had in the area such as the 136 mile Wye Valley walk; you can find details from the local tourist boards. You can even hire canoes to use on the river.
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