Wye & Usk tourist information & travel guide
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Wye & Usk tourist guide
The Wye Valley and Vale of Usk is well-known for being one of the loveliest regions where Wales and England meet. It has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - according to definition, 'an area of the countryside that is considered to have significant landscape value in the UK'. It also has a fine industrial heritage.
The area is perhaps most famous for the ruins of Tinern Abbey, on the Welsh banks of the River Wye and perhaps the most impressive in the country, leading to the inspiration for 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' by William Wordsworth and the poem 'Tears, Idle Tears' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The most English of Welsh towns is Monmouth, a Georgian town that sits at the head of the Lower Wye Valley and is the obvious place to stay to explore this area either on foot or by canoe. Monmouth was the birthplace of Henry V, a fact celebrated by Agincourt Square in the centre of the town, and has been both English and Welsh over the centuries. Outside the town, on top of a hill, are two interesting Georgian buildings called the Kymin, comprising a circular banqueting house and a monument dedicated to the glories of the British Navy. The 9 acres of pleasure gardens in Monmouth have lovely views out across the surrounding countryside. Self-catering cottages near Monmouth are plentiful and many offer luxury holiday accommodation for a Welsh holiday.
The town of Usk, now much depleted, was once one of the largest in Wales and this is shown in the size of the castle ruins. Usk holds a regular, and very popular, farmers market every two weeks, and is a very busy place for fisherman - if you want a fishing holiday cottage near Usk then this is a great part of Wales for fishing. On the edge of Newport is the Roman town of Caerleon, at one time the largest Roman garrison town in Wales. Archaeologists have uncovered a wide range of artefacts and buildings and these are shown off in an interesting museum. Newport, on the other hand, is much more modern having expanded from a humble fishing village to its present size during the industrial revolution, with goods coming down to the port from Cwmbran and Pontypool to be shipped around the world. There is an ancient cathedral and a town museum, but the town ticks over on the pride of its Rugby team, which reaches religious proportions in this part of Wales.
There are some luxury holiday cottages to rent in the Wye valley and Usk valley - fabulous remote cottages near Abergaveny, isolated cottages in the Breacon Beacons, Black Mountain accommodation for a self-catering holiday, Chepstow cottages to rent for the races, luxury cottage to hire near Hay-on-Wye for the book festival, self-catering cottages near Monmouth - whatever kind of holiday home you are looking for in this idyllic part of Wales you will be able to find it at great prices.
The impressive Black Mountains form the northern boundary of the Wye Valley and Vale of Usk with the bustling market towns of Monmouthand Abergavenny. The towns of Chepstow and Newport on the banks of the famous River Severn are to the south.
The unique Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, with its underground tours, is located near Abergavenny, and is a museum dedicated to preserving the memory of the hard work undertaken by generations of miners in the region.
Monmouth is world-famous for its incredible collection detailing the life and times of Admiral Horatio Nelson. They say he literally keeps an eye on things, as his glass eye forms part of this impressive collection.
Aside from the many castles and ruins you may come across, from Abergavenny's White Castle, with its regular medieval pageants to Chepstow Castle, with its life-sized models of the castle lords though the ages, the first to be build entirely from stone, Tredegar House nearNewport is said to be one of the greatest 17th Century mansions in the entire UK. You can also enjoy a visit to remember at Caldicot where they hold staged banquets and civil war battles.
If it's the outdoor life you are seeking then the Vale of Usk and Wye Valley have over 1,000 miles of public footpaths between them, allowing for some fabulous walks in the great outdoors. You can either plan your own route and go as you please or pick up one of the many walking guides. Pony trekking in the stunning Black Mountains is also another great day out, or if you prefer, why not hire a bike for the day to explore the magnificent countryside. And if you are feeling very adventurous, you can go hang gliding at Abergavenny.
The rivers Wye and Usk as well as the beautiful Llandegfedd reservoir are great for fishing and the Wye is well-known as one of the great rivers for canoeists. You will also find great sea fishing off the coast throughout the year.