Crossing the Wye at Kerne Bridge this section runs through a mix of woodland and riverside fields, skirting the Courtfield estate (where King Henry V lived as a child to escape the foul air of Monmouth)! The path passes the peaceful church at Welsh Bicknor, and its rectory which is now a Youth Hostel.
Crossing the Wye again via an old railway bridge at Lydbrook, the route passes a derelict factory, the Edison Swan Cable Works. Thousands were employed here during the World Wars, producing electrical cable for field telephones and fine wire for heated jackets for pilots and bomber crew. The next section feels quiet and remote with gorgeous views towards Coldwell Rocks and Symonds Yat. There is an optional climb up to Yat Rock, following in the footsteps of earlier tourists taking The Wye Tour. The path climbs up around Huntsham Hill before descending into Symonds Yat East.
Goodrich Castle is one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles. Standing on a ridge guarding an important river crossing there are spectacular views from the castle’s battlements. It was held by both sides during the Civil War - its surrender to the Parliamentarian forces in 1646 was assisted by ‘Roaring Meg’, a high trajectory cannon which started to demolish the walls. ‘Roaring Meg’ can still be seen today, inside the castle walls.
At Symonds Yat Rock the Wye flows makes a massive loop hundreds of feet below, creating one of the most iconic views on the Wye Valley Walk. As well as the grand river scenery peregrine falcons are also part of the attraction of Yat Rock, as they nest on the nearby cliffs of Coldwell Rocks. From the viewing point it is possible to see the peregrines hunting and raising their young between April and August.
Many visitors to Symonds Yat Rock don’t realise they are passing through the ancient ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort when they walk from the car park to Yat Rock. Constructed between 700BC – 43AD the Symonds Yat hillfort was defended on two sides by steep cliffs and on the third by five concentric ramparts, each a substantial bank and ditch. The size of these hillforts suggests they were as much a statement about the prestige of the inhabitants as a defensive place to retreat to in times of conflict.
It’s a fantastic achievement to walk all 136 miles. Mark the miles by keeping a record of your journey, collecting (digital) passport stamps along the route…MAKE A PASSPORT