Exploring Symonds Yat and Monmouth

Symonds Yat is a scenic beauty spot spanning the River Wye.  It is located mid-way between the market towns of Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth, both approximately five miles away.

Symonds Yat, Herefordshire
Symonds Yat

Narrow, winding roads lead to the village centre at Symonds Yat East and continuing slightly further there is a large car park where we were able to park.  The village is tiny but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in prettiness being located on this beautiful stretch of river.

Symonds Yat East
Cottages overlooking the River Wye at Symonds Yat

An ancient hand pulled cable ferry rests outside the Saracen’s Head Inn and is still in regular use today taking passengers across the river to Symonds Yat West.  Ferries were introduced to link both banks of the Wye in Roman times and whilst it is now predominantly a tourist attraction it is still also used by locals who wish to avoid a five mile road trip or a lengthy walk.

The rope ferry, Symonds Yat
The rope ferry at Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat is a popular canoe centre for trips on the River Wye and for the less energetic Kingfisher Cruises operate 45 minute scenic boat trips from the village centre.

Monnow Bridge, Monmouth
The historic Monnow Bridge

After enjoying a stroll around the village we returned to the car and carried on the short distance across the Welsh border into Monmouth.  Parking there was easy and free of charge on Sundays which was even better.  It was our first visit to Monmouth and I just knew it was going to be an interesting place to visit as we crossed its 18th century Monnow Bridge.  This masterpiece is the only one in the U.K. to have its gate tower still standing.  It was originally built with a portcullis, it’s primary use being to defend the town but it has also served as a jail and a toll booth.

The River Wye in Monmouth
Views across to the Brecon Beacons

The town lies at the confluence of the rivers Wye, Monnow and Trothy and is noted as being the birthplace of Henry V.  We strolled along the broad Monnow Street which gently slopes uphill.

Monnow Street, Monmouth
Monnow Street, Monmouth

The town looked bright and cheerful with lines of bunting strung across the road.  A large number of metal barriers and bollards spoilt the view somewhat.  I’m unsure if they were there to help with social distancing or due to roadworks but if you try to imagine the high street without them, it would look lovely.  There were also constant reminders that we had ventured into Wales with all road signs now appearing in both Welsh and English.

The Shire Hall, Monmouth
The Shire Hall, Monmouth

Our walk continued to Agincourt Square with its impressive Shire Hall which was formerly a court of assizes.  It’s normally open to the public but currently closed.  It didn’t matter as it was just nice to admire its exterior and to take a look at the very ornate Victorian hexagonal post box standing on the edge of the square.  It its without doubt one of the most beautiful post boxes I’ve ever come across and I wish there were more like this still around.

Victorian postbox, Monmouth
The ornate Victorian postbox outside the Shire Hall

Facing the square stands the Kings Head, a former 17th century coaching inn so we popped inside for a delicious Sunday brunch to set us up for the rest of the day.

The Kings Head Hotel, Monmouth
The Kings Head Hotel, Monmouth

Feeling re-energised we set off again to explore the top of the town with its quaint narrow streets and attractive little shops and cafes.  It all seemed very quiet though with few people about but it was still pleasant to stroll around.

Monmouth town centre
Quaint narrow streets in the town centre

We passed Monmouth Priory which was founded in 1070 by Benedictine monks and is one of the most historic buildings in the town.  From there, we followed a footpath to the river for a walk on the Vauxhall Fields which is a water meadow to the north west of the town centre.  The river Monnow borders the meadow on two sides making this large open space prone to flooding.  The fields are utilised for numerous events including the Welsh International Kite Festival which must be a stunning spectacle.

Vauxhall Fields, Monmouth
Vauxhall Fields, Monmouth

The footpath brought us out conveniently near to where we had left the car completing our visit to Monmouth and Love Travelling’s first ever visit to Wales.

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28 thoughts on “Exploring Symonds Yat and Monmouth

    1. Thanks Sue for your lovely comments. I thought of you when I was writing this post as I remembered that your family were from South Wales, a part of the U.K. I’m unfamiliar with, but so nice. We visited last month when we were attending a family wedding in Tewkesbury. So pleased to see you out and about so much.

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