The Wye Valley
The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an internationally important protected landscape straddling the border between England and Wales. It is one of the most dramatic and scenic landscape areas in southern Britain.
The River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the United Kingdom. The upper part of the river passes through the settlements of Rhayader, Builth Wells and Hay-on-Wye, but the area designated as an AONB surrounds only the 72-mile stretch lower down the river, from just south of the city of Hereford to Chepstow.
This area covers parts of the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, and is recognised in particular for its limestone gorge scenery and dense native woodlands, as well as its wildlife, archaeological and industrial remains. It is also historically important as one of the birthplaces of the modern tourism industry. The area is predominantly rural, and many people make a living from tourism, agriculture or forestry. Ross-on-Wye is the only town within the AONB itself, but Hereford, Monmouth, Coleford and Chepstow lie just outside its boundaries.
Symonds Yat is a village split in two by the beautiful River Wye. Other than the 5 mile road trip beyween East Symonds Yat (Gloucestershire) and West Symonds Yat (Herefordshire) there are the old hand ferries operated by the local pub (check openings). Walkers can also use the suspension bridge a mile downstream. The third element to Symonds Yat is Symonds Yat Rock with it's spectacular views over the River Wye's limestone gorge to the Black Mountains beyond. Perhaps you'll see the peregrine falcons.
Besides the miles of walks around Symonds Yat, there is kayaking, river cruises and fishing on the river and well marked cycle routes. Family favourites include the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo and the Amazing Hedge Puzzle.
Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean is a geographical, historical and cultural region in the western part of the county of Gloucestershire, England. It forms a roughly triangular plateau bounded by the River Wye to the west and north-west, Herefordshire to the north, the River Severn to the south, and the City of Gloucester to the east.
The area is characterised by more than 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq mi) of mixed woodland, one of the surviving ancient woodlands in England. A large area was reserved for royal hunting before 1066, and remained as the second largest crown forest in England, the largest being New Forest. Although the name is used loosely to refer to the part of Gloucestershire between the Severn and Wye, the Forest of Dean proper has covered a much smaller area since medieval times. In 1327 it was defined to cover only the royal demesne and parts of parishes within the hundred of St Briavels, and after 1668 comprised the royal demesne only. The Forest proper is within the civil parishes of West Dean, Lydbrook, Cinderford, Ruspidge, and Drybrook, together with a strip of land in the parish of English Bicknor.