Gilpin 2020 Two Day Self Guided Tour

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Follow in the footsteps of William Gilpin with this fantastic two day trip with an overnight stop in Symonds Yat West...

Welcome to the Gilpin two-day tour, 2020 is the 250th anniversary of Gilpin’s first tour of the Wye and in his honour we have created a few Gilpin tours to celebrate the anniversary.

In the summer of 1770, William Gilpin took a tour of the Wye (known as the Wye Tour) and afterwards published the guide book, Observations on the River Wye, which became a best-seller and is viewed as creating British tourism.

During 2020 in the Wye Valley there will celebrations of William Gilpin and the Wye Tour, we will be offering Option 1 (this page) a Two Day Self Guided Tour covering 23 miles over two days starting at Ross and Finishing at Redbrook staying overnight in Symonds Yat West at a place of your choosing, we recommend some local establishments, The Old Court Hotel, Ye Old Ferrie Inn, The Paddocks Hotel or you could camp at River Wye Camping which is very close to your exit point on day one.

We will also be offering an Option 2 which is one day self guided (Ross to Symonds Yat) and one day guided from Symonds Yat to Chepstow. Our professional friendly staff will guide you down onto the tidal section of the Wye and into Chepstow finishing where the River Wye meets the mighty River Severn and heads out to see through the Severn estuary and the Bristol channel, due to the tidal section of the Severn being pretty much the highest rise and fall in the world we will only be running these tidal trips on certain days throughout the season.

Approaching Chepstow Castle


Who was William Gilpin?

Reverend William Gilpin was a pioneer in the appreciation of landscape and the picturesque and his ideas eventually led much later on to some areas of Britain being protected or made into National Parks. Gilpin is credited with developing definitions of ‘the Picturesque’ and the artistic movement which had a long-lasting effect on landscape appreciation. The popularity of the Wye Tour was boosted by the publication of Observations on the River Wye.  This was the first tour guide to be published in Britain. It helped travellers locate and enjoy the most Picturesque scenes in the Wye Valley and enjoy specific dining establishments, viewpoints and romantic ruins, effectively making the Wye Tour one of the first ever package holidays. The Wye Valley, with its gorgeous river scenery, became the first of Britain’s great landscapes to be ‘discovered’. The Wye Valley was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971, so everyone in the area and its many visitors have much to thank him for.

 The Wye Tour

This was a two day boat trip down the river Wye that enabled passengers to enjoy the scenery. It went from Ross to Chepstow and there was an overnight stay in Monmouth. It was popular from 1760 on wards through to the 1830's.  The Wye Valley Railway opened in the 1870's and this allowing many more people to enjoy the beauty of the Wye renewing its popularity. In the 1880's thousands of people walked from Tintern station to Tintern Abbey to view the harvest moon rising through the rose window.

Option 1 is a lovely two day trip from Ross to Redbrook is a lovely relaxing trip that starts in the market town of Ross on Wye in Herefordshire (we meet at Symonds Yat West, where you will exit the river at the end of day one) and it finishes on day 2 in the pretty little village of Redbrook in Gloucestershire, covering some 22.5 miles over the two days and incorporating the rapids at Symonds Yat at the start of day two. You could consider this 2 x 1 day trips as you have access to your cars at the end of day one which makes it really convenient if you need your cars or have booked accommodation that requires driving to. Symonds Yat West is a great place to spend the evening with camping or Hotels and Bed and Breakfast options available, we recommend local hotels, The Old Court HotelYe Old Ferrie InnThe Paddocks Hotel or you could camp at River Wye Camping which is very close to your exit point on day one, or you can find more recommended options HERE.

Day one starts at 8.30am at Symonds Yat West where you will leave your cars, firstly we complete paperwork and payments and kit you out with buoyancy aids, paddles and dry barrels (to keep your possessions dry) then give you a safety briefing before transporting you to the historic market town of Ross on Wye to begin your trip. As you leave Ross you will pass underneath the 12 c sandstone Wilton Bridge and pass the remains of Wilton Castle before starting to follow the Wye as it meanders through stunning countryside and towards Goodrich Castle. The first place to stop for a break is Kerne Bridge some 5 miles downstream of Ross, you should reach Kerne Bridge after approximately 2 hours where you can stop for lunch, 5-10 minutes after passing under Kerne bridge around the bend there is the landing point for Kerne Bridge Canoe Launch on the left hand bank, there is a pub nearby, The Inn on the Wye , which can be accessed by following the footpath by the side of the village hall which will bring you out by the bridge and just across the road from the pub. (We are very very strict about consuming alcohol whist on our activities, there is nothing wrong with a pint or a glass of wine but anyone drinking excessively and found to be under the influence will be removed from the river without refund so be careful!)

We require that you are back on the water and have left the lunch stop at Kerne Bridge by 1.30 pm to enable you reach your day one finish point at Symonds Yat West by 4 pm.

A further 30 minutes downstream is Lower Lydbrook, where again you can find a picnic area, public toilets and the The Forge Hammer (Please be aware that although there are a couple of pub options on route, you will only have time for one stop for lunch). if you decide to stop at Lydbrook for lunch rather than Kerne Bridge we would suggest you leave Lydbrook by 2 pm to make your 4 pm finish time.

After Lydbrook you will pass by the Wye Valley YHA and the Church at Welsh Bicknor and under the disused railway bridge. The river meanders down beside Coppett Hill towards and under the famous Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint, where you may be able to spot peregrine falcons and other birds of prey.

After passing Yat Rock you paddle for a further hour through stunning scenery into Symonds Yat and back to Symonds Yat West and your car. Along the way you can see a variety of wildlife from otters, mink, swans, geese, deer, wild boar, peregrine falcons and plenty more. The distance of about seven miles of this trip can be enough for the first time paddler and is perfect to enjoy the fantastic surroundings and stunning vistas the area has to offer.

Things to look out for on this trip!

  1. Coppett Hill – After launching at Kerne Bridge you will paddle alongside beautiful heather clad Coppett Hill on your right, a local nature reserve of over 100 acres, it’s a mixture of woodland and open hillside and is a great place for butterflies, deer, bird life and fungi.
  2. After the island at Lower Lydbrook you will pass through Welsh Bicknor which despite its name is in Herefordshire, and past the Wye Valley YHA with St Margaret's church beside it.
  3. Another disused railway bridge, last used in the 1960′s, now used as a footbridge for the Wye Valley Walk.
  4. Approximately half way through your trip Cliffs rise up in front of you, this is Coldwell Rocks and caves and Symonds Yat Rock where finds suggest iron age activity, but are probably more notable for the nesting Peregrine falcons and Symonds Yat Rock the view point some 500ft above you on the left, easily identified by the union flag.
  5. Now you have looped around and you are paddling the other side of Coppett Hill, you will go under Huntsham Bridge, a green iron road bridge that links the two sides of the River Wye.
  6. You are entering Symonds Yat area when you see the old parish church of St Dubricius on your right hand side. Its foundations date from the 9th century and the oldest part the 13th century. St Dubricius lived in Herefordshire in the 6th century and founded monasteries which were centres of learning.

Your landing point for today is not far away now, as you round a right hand bend you will see our sign on a beach on the inside of a right hand bend indicating our private launch and landing site.

 All you have to do now is carefully exit the canoe and take all your equipment with you while we lock up your boats safely for the night.

The next day you can start any time you fancy but the shuttle pick ups are 4pm at Monmouth and 5pm at Redbrook and with it being a 3 -4 hour paddle to Redbrook you can take it nice an easy

When you leave Symonds Yat West on day 2 the first thing you will encounter are the really fun little rapids – these are Grade 2 rapids and must not be paddled without a properly fitted helmet and a rapids briefing from a member of our staff.

After the rapids there are a number of places of interest to spot:

  • 1. Biblins foot bridge a suspended iron foot bridge linking the walk from Symonds Yat East to Biblins campsite on the West side of the river to the Wye Valley Walk.
  • 2. Past Biblins the river carves it’s way through carboniferous limestone and the Seven Sisters Rocks, plus there are a number or caves on the right hand side of the river including King Arthur’s Cave.
  • 3Wyastone Estate – home of Nimbus records, this Gothic mansion estate can be seen from the river on the right hand side with its Concert Hall and Business Park.

Once you reach Monmouth the landing area is the second set of steps on the right hand side.


Paddle under the large multi-arched Wye Bridge at Monmouth and now you are heading for Redbrook and England.

After the bridge look out for the following on your journey down to Redbrook:

  • 1. On your right you will see the River Monnow joining the River Wye.
  • 2. Another two disused railway bridges.
  • 3. There are a large number of big boulders in the river here, take care going around them.
  • 4. Old iron disused railway bridge is immediately before your finish point Redbrook.

The Boat Inn is on the right hand side of the river just past the bridge, the landing point is on the left hand side of the river opposite, the Boat Inn can then be accessed by using the footpath that goes across the bridge to get some refreshments whist waiting for your Wye Canoes / Wye Adventures 5 pm shuttle back to your car at Symonds Yat.

Activity Information Facts:

  • Minimum Age – 4 Years Old
  • Fitness Level – Easy/Moderate
  • Difficulty – Easy, suitable for novices, you will be required to carry your 34kg canoe between you and your paddling partner (we can assist groups with young children), we can sometimes help at the launch stage but if you capsize on route you will have to recover your boat yourselves as we are not there with you! you will also need to remove the canoe from the river at the end of each day. 
  • Stops on route - On day 1 about 2 hours into your trip is the Inn on the Wye and a further 30 minutes down river is the public area of Lower Lydbrook which has public toilets, picnic area, Forge Hammer Pub and a few hundred metres further downstream is the Wye Valley YHA which also sells food and drink. On Day 2 there is nothing on route but there is the Boat at Penault and the end of your trip. (Please bear in mind that we don't allow anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to paddle our boats for obvious safety reasons, people under the influence or seen drinking alcohol whist in the boats will be removed from the river without refund and possibly without transport back to their cars)
  • Meeting times – 8.30am (riverside, through the Paddocks Hotel Car Park)
  • Meeting place - Riverside, through Paddocks Hotel Car Park, HR96BL
  • On river time – 60-90 mins after meeting time (30 mins for paperwork, briefing, kitting out, 20 mins to travel to launch site, 20 mins to get boats off and get on water)
  • Duration – 6 hours (day 1) and 4 hours (day 2)
  • Off water time - 4pm at latest (either 2.30 pm or 5 pm collection from Redbrook)
  • Time of Year – March-December
  • Location - Lower Wye Valley
  • Adult:Child Ratio - Self Guided, 4-9 yr olds 1:1 adult to child ratio, 10-18 yr olds 1 adult:2 youths

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01600 890027 

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