The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is regarded as one of the finest lowland landscapes in Britain. It was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971 to protect its special features, which include dramatic limestone gorges and native woodlands, impressive geology, rich wildlife and a wealth of history including hillforts, castles and the first Cistercian Abbey in Wales. At its heart is the river Wye, one of the most natural rivers in Britain, which meanders majestically through the Welsh/English borders.
Symonds Yat Rock
This iconic viewpoint delights visitors of all ages with its bird’s eye panorama of the Wye. The commanding view and cliff top location was also valued by much earlier people. providing an excellent vantage point for Iron Age inhabitants who built a fort here 2,500 years ago. Eighteenth century Wye Tourists loved this famously picturesque view. They left their tour boats and walked up to the viewpoint here, whilst the crew rowed the boats around the four mile loop to New Weir to meet the tourists. You can follow in their footsteps and take the steep path down to the riverside at Symonds Yat East, from where a hand ferry can still be hailed to take you to New Weir on the opposite bank. Today Yat Rock attracts many ornithologists as its one of the best places in the country to catch sight of peregrine falcons who nest on nearby Coldwell Rocks. You might also see goshawks, sparrowhawks and even an osprey as they often stop here in the spring and autumn migration.
However, this walk is going to take in this spectacular spot from a different angle. The view is regularly featured as one of the top destinations and views in the country, yet, the part that everyone misses is what this image is actually a view over: Coppet Hill. This little known hill has big aspirations and is not only a stunning nature reserve but was also used as a location for Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. This walk gives you height, views, woodland, the River Wye and exceptional vistas of Symonds Yat rock from below. And for those Harry Potter nerds you can walk along the river on the very spot that Harry, Ron and Hermione did in the film.
The Walk starts from the lovely tiny village of Goodrich where you can also visit Goodrich Castle, you can park sensibly on the side of the road, or if it is out of school time in the school car park. You then head up the hill, over the bridge which spans the road down to Flanesford Priory. When you reach a fork in the road you need to eek out the steps that wind their way up the bank in front of you. From there you are on a clearly defined path.
Besides all the glamour of being on a film location, Coppet Hill is just stunning. You walk up to the trig point where, on a clear day, you can see over to the Black Mountains, The Malverns, May Hill and even the Shropshire Hills. It is breath taking. Then you follow the path in to the woodland where, if you are lucky (and very quiet!) you can see deer and wild boar.
As you walk along this path, there are beautiful woodlands to each side which if you go in Autumn will reward you with apples to eat as you walk. As we headed down the other side of the hill we came out on that iconic field alongside the River Wye below Yat Rock. We were able to look up and wave at everyone with their binoculars seeking for the Peregrine Falcons which have made this place their home. It was wonderful to walk along the river as the sun glinted off the side of the woods.
This is a walk you could easily do regularly as it changes so much with every season; the light, the colours and the sounds. A little piece of heaven that so many people gaze at but never actually get to experience.
Link to the walk on Ordnance Survey Maps HERE