Embraced by the River Wye, Ross-on-Wye is an inviting place to potter. When William Gilpin wrote Britain's first travel guidebook about the Wye Valley in 1782, he sparked a trend for 'picturesque tourism'. Today, as well as enjoying that same scenic beauty, you can browse independent shops, saunter alongside the town's 19th-century mock-Gothic walls and Gazebo Tower folly, and admire pastel-hued dwellings tumbling down the hillside to the river. The town is the centre of a region historically dubbed Archenfield or 'Land of Hedgehogs', and you'll find examples of the icon in St Mary's Church, dating back to the 17th century, and on more recent memorials to the Boer War and Second World War.
Love Your Ross-on-Wye Break
Meanders on the River Wye
Two centuries ago, taking a boat tour from Ross along the River Wye was the height of fashion. The draw? Viewing the valley's 'picturesque' landscape, beloved of artists and poets, from Turner to Coleridge. Today, canoe trips are more à la mode, but the countryside is just as dreamy. Embark at Ross-on-Wye, calling at the Inn on the Wye at Kerne Bridge for lunch, before meandering under Symonds Yat Rock where you might spot a peregrine falcon among the many birds thriving here.
The Man of Ross
The philanthropist John Kyrle (1637–1724) dedicated his wealth to improving Ross-on-Wye – he became known as the 'Man of Ross' – and his legacy is still strong today. Walk to The Prospect, public gardens laid out by Kyrle for the wellbeing of locals and still a superb lookout point providing views over the horseshoe bend of the Wye, 30m below. From here, walk under the stone-built Kyrle's Gateway into the churchyard.
Ross boasts an abundance of shops selling antique, vintage and retro items . Follow the Vintage Shopping Trail to track down treasures ranging from curios and collectibles, to nostalgia and knick-knacks, jewellery and art. It's an ideal way to start shopping more sustainably. En route, mooch around gift and lifestyle shops, or take a ten-minute drive to Baileys, an interiors outlet housed in a series of farm buildings, espousing a mantra of plain, simple and useful.
Explore Near Ross-on-Wye
Standing in open countryside above the River Wye, Goodrich Castle is one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles, boasting a fascinating history and spectacular views from the battlements. Learn about the Civil War Siege, spy the 'murder holes' built into the castle walls, and admire the beautiful stained-glass window in the 13th century chapel. Be sure to find the famous 'Roaring Meg' – the only surviving Civil War mortar – and cache of cannonballs.
Wythall Estate Vineyard Tour & Tasting
Planted in 2010, Wythall Estate produces award-winning still and sparkling English wines. Join a tour that begins with a walk through the vineyard, exploring the grape varieties grown here, along with pruning methods, harvesting and more. Then enjoy a tutored tasting session in the beamed dining room of the 16th-century manor house.
A gem in rural Herefordshire, this captivating church will transport you to Tuscany with its Italianate style, including mosaics, marble columns and an altar with lapis lazuli.