England // The West Midlands and the Peak District //

The Wye River Valley

Travelling south from Ross along the B4234, it’s just five miles to the sullen sandstone mass of Goodrich Castle, which commands wide views over the hills and woods of the Wye River Valley. The castle’s strategic location guaranteed its importance as a border stronghold from the twelfth century onwards and today the substantial ruins incorporate a Norman keep, a maze of later rooms and passageways and walkable ramparts. The castle stands next to the tiny village of GOODRICH, from where it’s around a mile and half southeast along narrow country lanes to the solitary Welsh Bicknor Hostel, which, with the Wye Valley Walk running past the front door, makes a great base (in a no-frills sort of way) for hikers.

From Goodrich, it’s a couple of miles south along narrow country lanes to a fork in the road – veer right for Symonds Yat East, or keep straight for the wriggly road up to the top of Symonds Yat Rock, one of the region’s most celebrated viewpoints, rising high above a wooded, hilly loop in the River Wye. Down below is SYMONDS YAT EAST, a pretty little hamlet that straggles along the east bank of the river. It’s a popular spot and one that offers canoe rental and regular river trips  – and there’s a good hotel here too.

The road to the village is a dead end, so you have to double back to regain Goodrich (or Symonds Yat Rock), though you can cross the river to Symonds Yat West by means of a hand-pulled rope ferry, which leaves from outside the Saracen’s Head Inn.

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