For more beautiful cottages in and around the Wye Valley visit Wye Valley Holiday Cottages

Johnson Cottage in the heart of the Wye Valley - self-catering on the Wales-England border for couples, friends or families
Canoeists at Symonds Yat (seen from Yat Rock lookout) - The Wye Valley and is renowned for its canoeing and, with the Forest of Dean, offers many activities such as excellent walking, cycling, rock climbing,  and other adventurous outdoor pursuits

The Wye Valley offers many great activities, from walking and cycling to fishing and climbing - there is something for everyone.

Below are some of the activites on offer in the area, although it's only a small selection and you'll find lots of additional ideas by visiting the major area websites: Visit Wye Valley & Visit Forest of Dean. You'll also find a number of leaflets and maps in the cottage for reference.

It's a good idea to come equipped with a local map - the Ordnance Survey Wye Valley & Forest of Dean Explorer Map (OL14) features walking routes, local attractions and activities. With a few exceptions, we've kept the following activities within a short driving distance of Brockweir (up to 15 miles), though more can be found further afield of course. Links are provided for you to get specific changeable info such as opening times, costs, directions etc. All distances are based on driving mileages from the cottage and are approximate.

WalkingCyclingCanoeing | Fishing | Horses | GolfShooting | Adrenalin | DivingClimbingCaving | BallooningBoating 


  A view of Brockweir Bridge from Offa's Dyke Path (a few minutes walk from our self-catering cottage). The Wye Valley Walk is on the opposite bank and both paths offer splendid views of the Wye and surrounding hills - the reason walking holidays in the Wye Valley are so special

No doubt one of the great attractions of the area is the year-round walking, and many walks, short and long, are close at hand. You can make it at strenuous as you like, either following river paths or conquering larger hills. The 2 most important routes in this part of the country run right through Brockweir village and it is a few moments walk from the cottage to join either:

The Wye Valley Walk runs along the river bank on the opposite side to the cottage - access it from the far side of Brockweir bridge.

Offa's Dyke Path runs along the river bank from the North (pictured right), veering through the village to climb the hill past the HAPPA horse rescue centre.

Another local favourite is the Three Castles Walk, taking in Skenfrith, White and Grosmont castles. It's a circular route of about 19 miles and is fantastic.

There are also many shorter, circular walks ideal for families - you can walk straight out of the holiday cottage, down the path it borders, along the river, and then climb gradually through the forested hillside to walk to Tintern in 30 minutes or so. On descending on the Tintern side you may see the ruins of Tintern Abbey through the trees (depending on the season).

For a nice short circular walk (20-30mins, ideal to stretch your legs once you arrive), cross the bridge and take the steps on the left down to the riverbank. Then, take the shaded path straight ahead (the old rail track route) to Tintern Old Station, perhaps stopping there for refreshments. Continuing to the far end of the track line, take the steps on the right down to the riverbank, turn left and you'll walk back to the bridge via the riverbank meadows - on a clear, golden-lit evening this walk really demonstrates the beauty of where you are.

For a short strenuous walk with a sizeable payoff go a couple of miles down the Wye Valley road towards Chepstow to find Lower Wyndcliff which features the 365 steps leading to a spectacular lookout known as the Eagle's Nest, dating back to the 19th century. This can be turned into a longer route as you can join other popular walks close by including the Wye Valley Walk - see here for a route from Chepstow to Tintern following the Wye Valley Walk, which takes in the Eagle's Nest.

The Forest of Dean is full of interesting walks too, such as the Sculpture Trail which makes for a pleasant few hours finding the weird and wonderful artworks spread around through the woods.

There's simply too much to go into here but you'll find some books and maps in the cottage to help you decide on a route that's right for you and you'll find plenty more in local shops and Tourist Information Centres.

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  I want to ride my bicycle! Cycling in the Forest of Dean on the waymarked Family Cycle Trail

Pedalabikeaway Cycle Hire have a well situated centre in the Forest of Dean (11 miles), with quick access to the 11 mile Family Cycle Trail which is great fun and a wonderful way to see the Forest. There are a couple of minor steep bits but, if going anti-clockwise, the final couple of miles are an easy cruise downhill. You can deviate to have fun on high ropes at Go Ape! and a picnic at Mallard's Pike Lake which would make a very full and enjoyable day out.

They also have a centre in Monmouth from which you can ride the Peregrine Path from Monmouth to Symond's Yat, or for experienced cyclists there's the circular 32 mile 4 Castles Cycle Route taking in Abergavenny, White, Skenfrith and Grosmont castles.

Wye Valley Bike Hire is a delivery based service - they'll bring bikes to the cottage door and pick them up again, all included in the price.

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  Canoeing in the Wye Valley - one of the most popular activities for visitors to the area - you can launch your own from Brockweir quay!

Definately one of the highlights of the area is taking a canoe down the Wye in clear weather. You usually need to book ahead during the holiday season but sometimes you can pick up a cancellation. If you have your own canoes you can launch from Brockweir's old quay, right by the bridge and a stone's throw from the cottage and parking area.

Monmouth Canoe & Activity Centre (10 miles) offers half and full days canoeing or kayaking where they drop you off at an part of the River Wye giving you ample time to paddle back to Monmouth, where they will greet you and help remove your canoes from the water, within a short walk of their centre.

Symonds Yat Canoe Hire, Ross-on-Wye Canoe Hire and Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Centre (all 14-15 miles) are centred around Symonds Yat, a popular place which sports some rapids for the braver canoeist. Wye Pursuits (17 miles) is located on a nice stretch of the river near Ross-on-Wye and offers canoeing, kayaking & white water rafting.

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  Fishing the River Wye - a renowned destination for anglers in the lush surroundings of the Wye Valley, famous for its salmon

The Wye is renowned for excellent coarse and salmon fishing in tranquil surroundings. The best place to get started is by contacting the Wye and Usk Foundation, who represent owners of fishing rights on the Wye and Usk rivers. Anglers must have a current Environment Agency rod licence (available from Post Offices, phone (0870 166 2662) or online. The website also has guides, fishing season dates and much more.

Bigsweir Fishery (Tel: 01594 530073) occupies a 2.5 mile stretch of the Wye with double bank fishing and a season running between March and October, near Bigsweir Bridge (3 miles). The Rivers Monnow and Trothy also provide anglers with excellent stretches coarse and game fishing around Monmouth (10 miles). For pond/lake based coarse fishing there's Grange Springs Fishing Lakes are at Trellech Grange (4.5 miles), and for game fishing Big Well Fly Fishing (Tel: 01600 772904/07748 227347) at Redbrook (7 miles) offers three lakes stocked with trout.

Have a look here for more details of specific sites and how to obtain passes etc. Also, see the Visit Wales fishing site for more information.

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Horses (for courses…)

There are a few different places of interest in the area for horse lovers:

  Horse riding, pony trekking and other equestrian interests in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean

The Horses and Ponies Protection Association (HAPPA) is located a few yards away from the cottage at Gregory Farm and has a small visitors centre. Their rehabilitated horses can usually be seen happily grazing (and sometimes playing) in the fields above the cottage from the path by the river and from the bedroom windows. They are open most afternoons (except Monday and Thursday) and sometimes have open days with lots of activities. They also offer a scheme where you can adopt a horse or pony.

Severnvale Equestrian Centre (7 miles), set in 60 beautiful acres, offers fun days and riding lessons. For pony trekking you'll generally need to look a little further, to the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park, near Abergavenny. Have a look here for some riding centres in that area (approx 35-40 miles).

If you just want to watch then 2 top UK racing venues await: Chepstow Racecourse is a short (6 mile) scenic drive away on the Wye Valley road, or you can head further afield to Cheltenham Racecourse (36 miles), home of the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place during the Cheltenham Festival in March annually.

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There are several local courses that take full advantage of the scenery here, as well as a couple further afield:

  The Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club - set in the stunning countryside outside Monmouth in the Wye Valley

Forest of Dean Golf Club (8 miles) and Forest Hills Golf Club (9 miles) are both located in Coleford. The Marriott St. Pierre (9 miles) outside Chepstow offers 2 courses and visitors can play by appointment. Monmouth Golf Club (11 miles) is situated a few minutes out of Monmouth with an 18 hole course and some wonderful views,while the famous Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club (15 miles) is set around a spectacular stately home once owned by Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce. The Celtic Manor (20 miles) on the outskirts of Newport is a world-class golf resort that hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010.

If you want to scale it down a little there's Wye Valley Miniature Golf in Symonds Yat (14 miles), open all year.

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DBC Leisure offer "the best way of gaining your first experience at a new sport in a friendly relaxed atmosphere", with clay shooting, airguns and archery at their main shooting ground just beyond the village of St Briavels (5 miles). They provide everything you need and can organise multi activity days in conjunction with other local companies (quad biking etc).

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Wye Valley Quad Bikes (5 miles) and the Chepstow Outdoor Activity Centre (8 miles) offer quad biking, while the latter also has sphering (rolling down a hill in a giant ball - it's on our list once we pluck up the courage), paintballing and laser tag. Check their site for group sizes and age restrictions etc.

  Go Ape! in the Forest of Dean at this award winning venue for monkeying around in the trees near Mallards Pike Lake - brilliant fun

Go Ape! High Wire Forest Adventure (11 miles) is a really fun way to spend a few hours on high ropes, swinging and zip-wiring your way through the trees next to Mallards Pike Lake in the Forest of Dean. What's great is they show you how to do, explain all the safety aspects and then leave you to do it at your own pace, checking each others rope connections on each part of the course. Even those with height issues (like me) will feel secure and have fun - highly recommended. The lake is a nice place to take a picnic and has parking or can be reached by diverting slightly off the big family circular bike route through the forest which is also strongly recommended (see cycling). They have minimum age/height restrictions and are open during Spring and Summer and some other school holidays.

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Diving in the Wye Valley? The National Diving & Activity Centre (6 miles) is a short distance outside Chepstow and features a spectacular quarry setting and programs for those just wanting to try it right through to more experienced divers. Their site is brimming with information and activities run at the centre.

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Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Centre (15 miles) is situated in Symonds Yat, and Wye Pursuits (17 miles) on a nice stretch of the river near Ross-on-Wye. Both offer climbing and abseiling at Yat Rock, a famed lookout for the area.

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Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Centre (15 miles) in Symonds Yat, and Wye Pursuits (17 miles) near Ross-on-Wye both offer caving in the caves and old iron mines under the Forest of Dean.

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Dusk or dawn ballon rides in the Wye Valley can be booked through any of these: Bailey Balloons (who we've used and found to be very good), Ballooning Network, Virgin Balloon Flights & Wye Valley Aviation. They launch at different sites, so you may want to call them and see which itinerary suits you best. This will provide you with a very memorable Wye Valley experience!

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  The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is a brilliant way to spend a day - on a narrow boat in some seriously beautiful countryside

If you want to travel a little further, exploring a portion of the 35 mile long Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal can provide you with a lovely day lazing on a narrowboat. It's great fun hopping on and off the towpath and stopping for pub lunches - you get the hang of hands-on boating quite quickly and can then soak up the gorgeous countryside. There are a number of operators along the route of the canal hiring day boats. We've used Red Line Boats at Goytre Wharf (21 miles) who were efficient and helpful - the pictures on their website don't do justice to how beautiful it is there.

NB: Some of the canal is closed as part of a renovation program until March 2009 - check their site for details.

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