Weekend Break in Ross-on-Wye

Get active on the river, cross historic suspension footbridges and take the hand ferry, visit special gardens and discover excellent gastropubs.

Based in the independent market town of Ross-on-Wye, this trip seeks out the area's spectacular horsehoe bends, rapids and cliffs, craggy viewpoints and rolling hills. It's a chance to recreate The Wye Tour of the 1700s, which saw the great and the good flocking here to enjoy the very first 'package' holiday, taking in specific walks, viewpoints and romantic ruins.

Day 1

A 15-minute drive from Ross-on-Wye is Symonds Yat, a steep wooded gorge carved out by the river over millennia. Human habitation relics have been found, dating from 12,000 years ago. And in the 1700s, the area was a hive of industrial activity - mining and ironworks. 

Today, Symond's Yat is a hub for outdoor activities. Both Wye Adventures and Wye Canoes offer varied canoe and paddleboard trips. One particular favourite is the paddle from Ross itself, past the cliffs of Goodrich Castle and rapids of Lydbrook to Symonds Yat. If you prefer two wheels, Wye Valley Mountain Bike Hire can kit you out or take you on a guided ride. There's also myriad winding roads down the Wye Valley and over the hills. Specialist gear can be picked up at Revolutions in Ross-on-Wye. Also in town is Angling Dreams, a specialist shop which can help you access spectacular fishing venues as well as day tickets, season permits, quality bait and tackle. For a more leisurely morning, take a scenic boat cruise from Symonds Yat or stroll along to the unusual suspension footbridge at Biblins and walk back on the other side, returning by hand ferry.

In the afternoon, hike or drive to the top of Symonds Yat Rock to see the most stunning and recognisable views of the Wye - it's quite a climb but downhill to return! If you are lucky the RSPB will be in situ with a team of volunteers armed with telescopes - try to spot the peregrines nesting in the cliff faces on either side. Relax at the cafe or take one of the many marked trails through the woods.

For lunch and dinner, we recommend the renowned Saracens Head; picnic food and provisions at Woods of Whitchurch - the perfect small deli/village store; traditional charm at the Old Court Hotel or the laid-back atmosphere of the Potting Shed.


symonds yat
Symonds Yat

Day 2

Get going early and head for the quiet river banks in Ross-on-Wye to catch the morning birdsong. Frequent visitors include kingfishers, families of goosanders, herons and cormorants, moorhens and sometimes dozens of swans or geese in magnificent groups.

Explore the Rope Walk open area by the river to view the only Linear Arboretum in the country. It's a mile of varied specimen trees planted along the floodplain. Keep a look out for Ross's own 'tree man' who kicked off the project and has so many stories about the trees! Stop for a coffee or lunch at the buzzing White Lion by the river.

Back in town there's no shortage of tea and coffee shops, many of which serve the delicious, locally made James's Coffee. Truffles Deli will sort you out with picnic food or, if you are self-catering, pay a visit to the award-winning Hanks' Meat and Game. Other favourites include the tiny Thai Berry,  the wonderful outdoor terrace at the Royal Oak, cosy pub meals at The King's Head, cocktails and tapas Leonards at 39, as well as the craft ales and ciders at The Tap House - Ross's micro pub.

In the afternoon, drive 5 minutes to Wobage Workshops to view ceramics, furniture, pottery and jewellery. Then head on into the lovely town of Ledbury for a mooch around its eclectic shops.  

The county has lots to offer for those wishing to learn crafts and rural skills, from making traditional beehives and keeping your own (Bees for Development) to blacksmithing (Oldfield Forge), from pottery-throwing (Wobage) to hedgerow medicine and printmaking (Rowan Mconegal).

ross on wye
Ross-on-Wye Town

Day 3

Today you'll visit two waterside gardens. A 35-minute drive takes you to The Weir, a National Trust garden set on a steep bank leading down to the River Wye. Its planting looks superb in all seasons and there are many twisting paths and vistas. Head on for another 10 minutes to reach Brobury House Gardens, laid out in the 1880s. Water is a recurring theme, there are three formal water features woven into the original terraces, a bog garden lying at the bottom of the specimen tree walk and informal paths which follow a stream through a woodland which has architectural planting, leading finally to the two-acre water meadow and River Wye beyond.

Drive back following the winding route of the river, through Hereford and on through Hampton Bishop and Fownhope on the B4224. A diversion right at How Caple takes you along a beautiful stretch of the riverbank to Hole in the Wall, Brampton Abbots and back to Ross.

In the evening, sample one of the area's fab pub restaurants such as the Moody Cow at Upton Bishop (not named after the staff!) or the aptly titled Cottage of Content at Carey, reached via tiny lanes. The Loughpool has a flagged floor and an ever-changing specials board - arrive early to take the circular walk to the river at Sellack with its Victorian suspension footbridge.

With thanks to Jan Stevenson of Ross-on-Wye for writing this itinerary for Visit Herefordshire.

The Weir Garden
The Weir Garden