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The RIVER WYE (Welsh : Afon Gwy) is the fifth-longest river in the UK, stretching some 215 kilometres (134 miles) from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales
Wales
to the Severn estuary
Severn estuary
. For much of its length the river forms part of the border between England
England
and Wales
Wales
. The Wye Valley (lower part) is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . The Wye is important for nature conservation and recreation.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 Description

* 3 Conservation

* 3.1 Salmon

* 4 History * 5 Navigation and sport * 6 Tributaries * 7 Cultural references * 8 Views of the river * 9 Bridges on the river * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Sources * 13 Further reading * 14 External links

ETYMOLOGY

The Wye's Latin name is Vaga, an adjective meaning 'wandering'. The Tithe map references a Vagas Field in both Whitchurch and Chepstow
Chepstow
. The modern Welsh name Gwy may be derived from old Welsh Gwybiol or Gwyr (crooked wandering hills).

DESCRIPTION

The source of the Wye is in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon . It flows through or past several towns and villages including Rhayader , Builth Wells , Hay-on-Wye , Hereford
Hereford
(the only city on the River Wye), Ross-on-Wye , Symonds Yat , Monmouth
Monmouth
and Tintern , meeting the Severn estuary just below Chepstow
Chepstow
. Its total length is 134 miles (216 km). The lower 16 miles (26 km) of the river from Redbrook to Chepstow forms the border between England
England
and Wales.

CONSERVATION

River Wye
River Wye
(Lower Wye) Site of Special Scientific Interest

GRID REFERENCE ST544912 to SO230429

INTEREST Biological/Geological

AREA England: 1,159.6 ha (2,865 acres) Wales: 245.2 ha (606 acres) Total: 1,404.8 ha (3,471 acres)

NOTIFICATION 1978

Natural England
England
website

The River Wye
River Wye
forms two Sites of Special Scientific Interest , one covering the Upper Wye (Gwy Uchaf) above Hay-on-Wye, and one covering the Lower Wye (Gwy Isaf) downstream to Chepstow. The criteria for inclusion of the river as an SSSI include geology, topography, flora, mammals, invertebrates, fish and birdlife, as the river and its tributaries constitute a large linear ecosystem. The Lower Wye SSSI is itself divided into seven units of assessment set by Natural England
England
, and administrative responsibilities are shared between the county authorities of Powys , Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Monmouthshire. The Wye abuts a range of other SSSIs in England
England
and Wales, including the Upper Wye Gorge and Lower Wye Gorge .

It is also a Special Area of Conservation
Special Area of Conservation
and one of the most important rivers in the UK for nature conservation. It is an important migration route and wildlife corridor, as well as a key breeding area for many nationally and internationally important species. The river supports a range of species and habitats covered by European Directives and those listed under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 . In Powys the river lies within the Radnorshire Environmentally Sensitive Area . Much of the lower valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty .

SALMON

The Lower Wye has been designated as a salmonid fishery under the EC Freshwater Fish Directive . The Wye is largely unpolluted and used to be considered one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in the United Kingdom, outside Scotland
Scotland
. In the 1980s and 1990s salmon in the Wye declined dramatically. In 1967 the Wye rod catch was 7,864, and as recently as 1988 it was 6,401; but by 2002 it was only 357. It is now recovering from this low in response to the extensive habitat improvement work carried out by the Wye and Usk Foundation, set up to restore the spring salmon runs. In 2015 the five-year average once again climbed above 1,000 and it is now the third best salmon river in England
England
and Wales, surpassed only by the Tyne and Wear .

The Wye was particularly famous for its large "spring" salmon that had spent three or more years at sea before returning to spawn. They used to enter the river between January and June and sometimes reached weights of over 50 pounds (23 kg), the largest recorded being 59 lb 8 oz (27.0 kg) landed after a long fight by Miss Doreen Davey from the Cowpond Pool at Ballingham on 13 March 1923. The last recorded 50 lb (23 kg) rod-caught salmon from the Wye was taken in 1963 by Donald Parrish and weighed 51 lb 8 oz (23.4 kg). Since the early 2000s the spring catch has been steadily recovering and salmon of over 35 lb (16 kg) have been reported every year since 2011.

HISTORY

The Wye at Chepstow
Chepstow
, showing the castle and the road bridge linking Monmouthshire (on the left) with Gloucestershire

The Romans constructed a bridge of wood and stone just upstream of present-day Chepstow. The River Wye
River Wye
was and still is navigable up to Monmouth
Monmouth
at least since the early 14th century. It was improved from there to a short distance below Hereford
Hereford
by Sir William Sandys in the early 1660s with locks to enable vessels to pass weirs. According to Herefordshire Council Archaeology, these were flash locks. The work proved to be insufficiently substantial and in 1696 a further Act of Parliament authorised the County of Hereford
Hereford
to buy up and demolish the mills on the Wye and Lugg. All locks and weirs were removed, except that at New Weir forge below Goodrich , which survived until about 1815. This was paid for by a tax on the county. Weirs were removed all along the Wye in Herefordshire , making the river passable to the western boundary, and beyond it at least to Hay on Wye . A horse towing path was added in 1808, but only up to Hereford; previously, as on the River Severn
Severn
, barges were man-hauled. Money was spent several times improving the River Lugg from Leominster to its confluence with the Wye at Mordiford
Mordiford
, but its navigation is likely to have been difficult. The Wye remained commercially navigable until the 1850s, when commercial traffic moved to railways. It is still used by pleasure craft.

NAVIGATION AND SPORT

Kayaking near Hay-on-Wye

The Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the river. The Normal Tidal Limit (NTL) of the river is Bigsweir and navigation below this point is under the control of the Gloucester Harbour Trustees as Competent Harbour Authority. There is a public right of navigation downstream from Hay-on-Wye . Canoes are generally permitted at and downstream of Glasbury , so long as they do not disturb anglers. A railway poster advertising the Wye Valley
Wye Valley
as a tourist destination. Date is before 1942.

The River Wye
River Wye
provides for canoeing and kayaking as it has sections suitable for all ranges of skills and free access all the way downstream from Hay to Hereford
Hereford
and Monmouth
Monmouth
, and the tidal Wye to Chepstow
Chepstow
and the Severn
Severn
Estuary
Estuary
. There are a wide range of canoe hire and supervised trips, as well as campsites at key points on the river. Symonds Yat has a particularly popular series of rapids that was purchased by the British Canoe
Canoe
Union in 2003 to preserve the rapids for recreational use, canoe trips through the rapids stop next at Monmouth. There are three rowing clubs on the river at Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth
Monmouth
. Annual regattas are held at Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth
Monmouth
for rowers and scullers of all abilities, next to the local rowing club.

Walkers can enjoy the Wye Valley
Wye Valley
Walk which follows the route of the River Wye
River Wye
from Coed Hafren, near Plynlimon, to Chepstow
Chepstow
along a series of well-maintained way-marked paths. A viewpoint near The Biblins on the Wye is known as 'Three Counties View', the meeting place of the counties of Herefordshire , Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire .

TRIBUTARIES

The Wye's tributaries include the river Lugg , Elan, Dulas, Irfon, Marteg, Monnow , Trothy , Ithon, Llynfi , Letton Lake, Tarennig (the Wye's first tributary) and Bidno. This list is incomplete ; you can help by expanding it .

CULTURAL REFERENCES

The Romantic poet William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
includes an apostrophe to the Wye in his famous poem "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey " published 1798 in Lyrical Ballads :

How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee!

Nelson travelled down the Wye in 1802, along with Lady Hamilton
Lady Hamilton
and her husband, Sir William Hamilton . They sailed from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth, to be greeted by a cannonade and the band of the Monmouthshire Militia playing See, the Conquering Hero Comes . Nelson expressed surprise that he was known at "such a little gut of a river as the Wye".

VIEWS OF THE RIVER

*

Ross-on-Wye , Herefordshire *

Ross-on-Wye *

Water transport at Symonds Yat *

St Peter\'s Church, Dixton *

Landscape with View on the River Wye
River Wye
by Thomas Jones *

Eagle's Nest, Wyndcliff *

A steam hauled stone train crossing the River Wye
River Wye
after departing from Tintern railway station in 1963

BRIDGES ON THE RIVER

See also: List of crossings of the River Wye

*

The old railway bridge at Redbrook *

Monmouth
Monmouth
Viaduct and Duke of Beaufort Bridge at Monmouth
Monmouth
*

Bigsweir Bridge
Bigsweir Bridge
*

Chepstow
Chepstow
Castle and bridge *

Brockweir Bridge *

Biblins Bridge *

Wye Bridge, Monmouth
Monmouth
*

Wilton Bridge, Ross on Wye *

Chepstow
Chepstow
Bridge at very high tide *

Backney Bridge, near Backney Halt , demolished under the Beeching Axe . *

Victoria Bridge, Hereford
Hereford
*

River Wye
River Wye
estuary and M48 Wye road bridge

SEE ALSO

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Place data as RDF

* Wye Valley
Wye Valley
* Wye Valley
Wye Valley
Walk * Wye Valley
Wye Valley
Railway * List of rivers of England
England
* List of rivers of Wales
Wales
* List of bridges in Wales
Wales
* South Herefordshire and Over Severn
Severn

REFERENCES

* ^ "Natural England
England
information on AONBs and map". Natural England. Retrieved 5 October 2012. * ^ "Natural England
England
information on Wye Valley
Wye Valley
AONB". Natural England. Retrieved 5 October 2012. * ^ The Tithe map (1844) * ^ David Hancocks, Dean Archaeology No. 11, 1998 p39 ISSN 0954-8874 * ^ Sue Owen et al., (2005). Colin Pooley, ed. Rivers and the British Landscape. Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85936-120-7 . * ^ "Countryside Council for Wales
Wales
Landscape & wildlife statement for River Wye
River Wye
(Upper Wye) / Afon Gwy (Gwy Uchaf)". Countryside Council for Wales. Retrieved 18 August 2012. * ^ A B C D "Natural England
England
SSSI information on River Wye
River Wye
(Lower Wye) or Afon Gwy (Gwy Isaf) SDdGA – citation, maps and unit details". Natural England. Retrieved 18 August 2012. * ^ "Information on River Wye
River Wye
Special
Special
Area of Conservation designation". DEFRA. Retrieved 20 September 2012. * ^ "Joint Nature Conservation Committee Listing of Special
Special
Areas of Conservation". DEFRA. Retrieved 20 September 2012. * ^ I. Cohen. "The Non-tidal Wye and its Navigation (from Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club, 1958 pg 86–94)". Retrieved 9 December 2006. * ^ "Wye canoe?" (PDF). Environment Agency . Upstream of Hay Bridge, the river can provide some good canoeing water but there is no established public right of navigation. * ^ " Canoeing in the Area".