The River Wye
The origins of the River Wye are deep within the hills of Wales at Plynlimon, a heather-clad mountain dominating central Wales. Here, it rises together with a number of other major rivers, including the Severn and Rheidol. Plynlimon forms part of the Cambrian Mountains which is the source of many other rivers including the Irfon, Teifi and Tywi as well as numerous other smaller rivers.
The catchment of the Wye and its tributaries includes some of the finest rural scenery in England and Wales and some of the most important rivers in Britain for nature conservation. It is also an important fishery, a source of water for public supply and supports or is affected by many other uses.
From its birthplace, it gently meanders some 248km (154 miles) through five British counties in both England and Wales.
The journey starts as a slow, trickling stream in the Welsh hillside picking up many tributaries as it flows to Builth Wells, flowing over boulder and gravel and cutting through bedrock before crossing the border into England at Hay-on-Wye to flow through the Herefordshire plains, then crossing the border returning to Wales at Monmouth to head southwards to re-join its sister river, the River Severn, in the Severn Estuary at Chepstow. Throughout its length, it winds and curves its way through undulating rural countryside, through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest. At Symonds Yat, it sweeps into a large horse-shoe bend where it can be seen from both directions from atop Yat Rock, yet this 6km loop makes only 366 metres progress.
Today the river Wye is one of the few British rivers to flow from source to sea without passing through any industrial areas pumping out pollution into its clear waters. It continues to enjoy a flow from mountains to valley, through rich countryside, deep gorges, through quaint villages where it provided their livelihood and supplied a natural power-source, down to the sea. Although there are several other attractive rivers in Britain, the Wye remains unsurpassed and none can match its cleanliness or stunning countryside and scenery.
Typical Wye Valley river scenery is of a shimmering river winding through its wooded valley.The River Wye's flood-meadows provide a good hunting ground for expert anglers - the local grey herons, particularly in the autumn when salmon move upstream and mature eels head downstream back to the sea. At this time of year, the Wye Valley area is fringed with trees of almost every shade of rich red and gold in the autumn. The ecological value of the Wye Valley and its ancient woodland has also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in order to safeguard the conservation of the area.