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Symonds Yat area- where the River Wye meets the Forest of Dean

If you are using Internet Explorer, and can see a yellow bar at the top of this page with a message starting "To help protect your security," then right-click your mouse in this yellow bar, select 'Allow Blocked Content' and then OK any further warnings.As the River Wye loops around Huntsman Hill, on which is perched Symonds Yat Rock, it is edged by spectacular cliffs, ancient woodlands and becomes a tourist attraction in its own right.

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The Source of the River Wye



Symonds Yat Rock

Towering 120 metres (394 feet) above the River Wye is Symonds Yat Rock. The Wye loops around the rock, almost encircling it.

On top is one of the most famous viewpoints in Britain, with a vista that includes the River Wye, England and Wales.

Symonds Yat Rock is owned by Forest Enterprise England, the body that manages nationally owned forestry.

Although popular with climbers, some of the routes on Symonds Yat Rock are hazardous – lives have been lost.



Around Symonds Yat is carboniferous limestone. Over the aeons the River Wye has cut into this like a wire into cheese. This has left the river in a gorge, with some impressive river cliffs. Red sandstone is also found in the area.

Iron mining was carried out in the area. And there were smelting works around Symonds Yat.


The Forest of Dean

After the New Forest, the Forest of Dean was the second largest area reserved for Royal Hunting (Crown Forest) prior to 1066. Now it is a well regarded area of mixed woodland and popular with many. The Forest of Dean is home to England’s largest oak forest.

The River Wye first encounters the Forest of Dean around Symonds Yat, and borders it for the rest of its course. The area has been inhabited since Mesolithic times, and was occupied by the Romans at about 50 AD. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Forest of Dean was home to industry such as coal and iron mining, quarrying, wire, tinplate and iron works, foundries and chemical works.

The last iron works closed in 1946 and the last coal mine in 1965. Since then the area has exploited its beauty and history by attracting tourism.

Two literary Potters have their origins in the Forest of Dean. The controversial television playwright Dennis Potter (1935-1994) was born here, as was J. K. Rowling (1965-) creator of Harry Potter.


Peregrine Falcons

In the cliffs adjacent to Symonds Yat Rock, a pair of peregrine falcons nest. Between April and August the RSPB lay on telescopes for visitors to observe them.

Peregrine falcons have a long association with Symonds Yat Rock. They did well up until the 1950s – a time when pesticides dramatically reduced the population of the species.

In the 1980s, despite nest robbing in 1983, peregrine falcons were re-established at Symonds Yat.

Other birds that can be seen include jackdaws, barn owls, goshawks and ravens. Other wildlife includes foxes, badgers and fallow deer.


Symonds Yat East

On the East side of the River Wye is one half of the split village - Symonds Yat East. This is a small village in the county of Herefordshire.

It was Robert Symonds, a 17th century sheriff of Herefordshire, that lent his name to Symonds Yat. Yat is a local term for gate or pass.


Symonds Yat West

Across the River Wye from Symonds Yat East is Symonds Yat West. This is in Gloucestershire. This village has a more commercial touristy feel to it. But it is not without considerable charm.

By road it is a five mile drive to and from Huntsham Bridge to get between Symonds Yat East and Symonds Yat West. Alternatively you can use one of the two ancient hand pulled ferries for a small fee to cross the Wye – a journey of a few metres. These ferries are driven by hand pulling on a rope that stretches from one side of the river to the other.


Symonds Yat Rapids

The British Canoe Union bought the site of Symonds Yat Rapids in the 1990s. The area has long been popular with canoeists – particularly as a training ground.

Symonds Yat Rapids are artificial – providing an exhilarating ride for canoeists. A series of walls affect the river to produce waves and eddies.

The rapids are at their best in mid spring and mid autumn. After rain if the river is high enough, the rapids become ineffective as the river simply flows over the constructions fast but smoothly.

The island in the middle of the rapids is also artificial, but this was created by the dumping of slag from the iron smelting works that were once worked there.


The Biblins

Three counties – Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and the welsh county Monmouthshire meet at the area of the Wye Gorge known as The Biblins.

The Biblins has a campsite. However it is best known for the pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the River Wye. This was built by the Forestry Commission in 1957 out of local oak timbers. 40 years later in 1997 it was fully refurbished.

The bridge is designed to take up to 30 people, but a sign asks that no more than six at a time use it. That said, although safe, the walkway of the bridge does wobble when used – and some refuse point blank to cross over it.

The Great Doward Caves

In Lords Wood above The Biblins are the Great Doward caves. The largest of these is King Arthur’s Cave.

Animal Bones and flint tools have been discovered during excavations in the 19th century. Bones included those of hyenas, lions, bears and reindeer.


A Year on the Wye DVD

A Year on the Wye DVD cover


  River Wye screensaver


The River Wye from Symonds YatThe River Wye from Symonds Yat
The Wye from Symonds Yat Rock © Star Video 2011


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The River Wye east of Symonds YatThe River Wye east of Symonds Yat
The Wye east of Symonds Yat Rock © Star Video 2011

Cliffs east of Symonds YatCliffs east of Symonds Yat
Cliffs where Peregrine Falcons nest © Star Video 2011


Symonds Yat WestSymonds Yat West
Symonds Yat West © Star Video 2011


The River Wye separates the villages of Symonds YatThe River Wye separates the villages of Symonds Yat
Wye between the villages of Symonds Yat © Star Video 2011


The River Wye at The BiblinsThe River Wye at The Biblins
Woodland around the Wye at The Biblins © Star Video 2011

The suspension bridge at The BiblinsThe suspension bridge at The Biblins
The suspension bridge at The Biblins © Star Video 2011



The Great Doward Caves
The Great Doward Caves © Star Video 2011


© 2011 Star Video