River Wye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

River Wye (Afon Gwy)
River
River Wye at Hay-on-Wye.jpg
The Wye at Hay-on-Wye
CountryUnited Kingdom
PartsWales, England
Tributaries
 - leftRiver Lugg, Bachawy, Afon Edw, more
 - rightRiver Trothy, River Monnow, Dulas Brook, more
Source
 - locationPlynlimon
 - elevation690 m (2,264 ft)
 - coordinates52°28′5.170″N 3°45′56.282″W / 52.46810278°N 3.76563389°W / 52.46810278; -3.76563389
Mouth
 - locationChepstow, Severn Estuary
 - elevation0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates51°36′36.086″N 2°39′42.423″W / 51.61002389°N 2.66178417°W / 51.61002389; -2.66178417
Length215 km (134 mi)
Basin4,136 km2 (1,597 sq mi)
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Coordinates: 51°36′36.086″N 2°39′42.423″W / 51.61002389°N 2.66178417°W / 51.61002389; -2.66178417
River Wye (Afon Gwy)
River
River Wye at Hay-on-Wye.jpg
The Wye at Hay-on-Wye
CountryUnited Kingdom
PartsWales, England
Tributaries
 - leftRiver Lugg, Bachawy, Afon Edw, more
 - rightRiver Trothy, River Monnow, Dulas Brook, more
Source
 - locationPlynlimon
 - elevation690 m (2,264 ft)
 - coordinates52°28′5.170″N 3°45′56.282″W / 52.46810278°N 3.76563389°W / 52.46810278; -3.76563389
Mouth
 - locationChepstow, Severn Estuary
 - elevation0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates51°36′36.086″N 2°39′42.423″W / 51.61002389°N 2.66178417°W / 51.61002389; -2.66178417
Length215 km (134 mi)
Basin4,136 km2 (1,597 sq mi)
The Wye at Chepstow, showing the castle and the road bridge linking Monmouthshire (on the left) with Gloucestershire

The River Wye (Welsh: Afon Gwy) is the fifth-longest river in the UK, stretching some 215 kilometres (134 mi) from source to sea. For much of its length the river forms part of the border between England and Wales. The Wye Valley (lower part) is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[1][2] The Wye is important for nature conservation and recreation.

Map of the River Wye, from source to sea, excluding tributaries

Contents

Etymology[edit]

The Roman name for the River Wye was the "Vaga", which stems from vagus meaning to roam (vagor) or the wanderer.[citation needed] The Tithe map references a Vagas Field in both Whitchurch and Chepstow.[3] The modern Welsh name "Gwy" may have entitled from the old Welsh "Gwybiol" or "Gwyr" (crooked wandering hills).[4]

Description and SSSI status[edit]

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 (the only city on the River Wye), Ross-on-Wye, Symonds Yat, Monmouth and Tintern, meeting the Severn estuary just below Chepstow. The total length is 134 miles (216 km).[5]

River Wye (Lower Wye)/Afon Gwy (Gwy Isaf) SDdGA
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Grid referenceST544912 to SO230429
InterestBiological/Geological
AreaEngland: 1159.6 hectare, Wales: 245.2 hectare, Total: 1404.8 hectare
Notification1978

Natural England website

The Wye itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are two distinct designations being River Wye (Upper Wye) or Afon Gwy (Gwy Uchaf)[6] and River Wye (Lower Wye) or Afon Gwy (Gwy Isaf) SDdGA.[7] For the River Wye (Lower Wye) there are seven units of assessment set by Natural England, and the citation involves the county authorities of Hereford and Worcester, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Powys. The Lower Wye part is defined as Hay on Wye to Chepstow.[7] The citations cover in detail geology, topography, flora, mammals, invertebrates, fish and birdlife as the River Wye (Upper and Lower), and several of the tributaries, constitute a large, linear ecosystem. It is an important migration route and wildlife corridor, as well as a stated key breeding area for a significant number of nationally and internationally important species.[7]

The River Wye abuts a range of other SSSIs in England and in Wales. These include Upper Wye Gorge and Lower Wye Gorge. It is also a Special Area of Conservation[8][9] and one of the most important rivers in the UK for nature conservation. 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 (as amended).[7] Much of the lower valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the SSSI falls within it. In Powys the river lies within the Radnorshire Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). The River Wye (Lower Wye) has been designated as a salmonid fishery under the EC Freshwater Fish Directive.[7]

The Wye is largely unpolluted and used to be considered[by whom?] one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in the United Kingdom, outside of Scotland. However, in recent years the runs of salmon in the Wye have declined dramatically and according to the Environment Agency rod catch returns for 2009 it is not even the most productive salmon river in Wales, as more salmon were caught from the Welsh Dee. In England the Tyne, Ribble, Wear, Lune and Eden all had larger catches in 2009. In 1967 the Wye rod catch was 7,864; as recently as 1988 it was 6,401 but by 2002 it was only 357, a low from which it is recovering only very slowly despite the extensive habitat improvement work carried out by the Wye and Usk Foundation that was set up to restore the spring salmon runs. 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 lbs, the largest recorded being 59 lbs 8oz landed after a long fight by Miss Doreen Davey from the Cowpond Pool at Ballingham on 13 March 1923. The last recorded 50 lb rod-caught salmon from the Wye was taken in 1963 by Donald Parrish and weighed 51 lbs 8oz. These large spring salmon have virtually disappeared over the past two or three decades.

It is also a popular river with canoeists due to the relatively slow-flowing water, making it good for beginners. The Symonds Yat Rapids are more challenging. There is a public right of navigation downstream from Hay. Walkers can enjoy the Wye Valley Walk which follows the route of the River Wye from Coed Hafren to 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. The lower 16 miles (26 km) of the river from Redbrook to Chepstow forms the border between England and Wales.

Tributaries[edit]

The Wye's tributaries include the rivers Lugg and Arrow, Elan, Dulas, Irfon, Marteg, Monnow, Trothy, Ithon, Llynfi, Letton Lake, Tarennig (the Wye's first tributary) and Bidno.

History[edit]

The river between Tintern and Chepstow

The Romans constructed a bridge of wood and stone just upstream of present day Chepstow. The River Wye was and still is navigable up to Monmouth at least since the early 14th century. It was improved from there to a short distance below 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.[10] The work proved to be insufficiently substantial and in 1696 a further Act of Parliament authorised the County of 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, barges were man-hauled. Money was spent several times improving the River Lugg from Leominster to its confluence with the Wye at 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.

Kayaking near Hay on Wye
Water transport at Symonds Yat

Navigation and sport[edit]

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.

The 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 Glasbury through Hay-on-Wye to Hereford to Monmouth the canoe hub and the Tidal Wye to Chepstow and the 1st Severn BridgeSevern Estuary.[11]

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 Union in 2003 to preserve the rapids for recreational use, canoe trips through the rapids stop next at Monmouth.[12]

There are three rowing clubs on the river at Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth. Annual regattas are held at Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth for rowers and scullers of all abilities, next to the local rowing club.

Cultural references[edit]

The Romantic poet 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!

Views of the river[edit]

Bridges on the river[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Natural England information on AONBs and map". Natural England. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  2. ^ "Natural England information on Wye Valley AONB". Natural England. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  3. ^ The Tithe map (1844)
  4. ^ David Hancocks, Dean Archaeology No. 11, 1998 p39 ISSN: 0954-8874
  5. ^ Sue Owen et al., (2005). Colin Pooley, ed. Rivers and the British Landscape. Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85936-120-7. 
  6. ^ "Countryside Council for Wales Landscape & wildlife statement for River Wye (Upper Wye) / Afon Gwy (Gwy Uchaf)". Countryside Council for Wales. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Natural England SSSI information on River Wye (Lower Wye) or Afon Gwy (Gwy Isaf) SDdGA - citation, maps and unit details". Natural England. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Information on River Wye Special Area of Conservation designation". DEFRA. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  9. ^ "Joint Nature Conservation Committee Listing of Special Areas of Conservation". DEFRA. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  10. ^ I. Cohen. "The Non-tidal Wye and its Navigation (from Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club, 1958 pg 86-94)". Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  11. ^ "Boating along the River Wye". Waterscape. Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  12. ^ "River rapids sold to canoeists". BBC News. 2003-03-15. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 

Further reading[edit]

  • I. Cohen, 'The non-tidal Wye and its navigation' Trans. Woolhope Nat. Fld. Club 34 (1955), 83-101;
  • V. Stockinger, The Rivers Wye and Lugg Navigation: a documentary history 1555-1951 (Logaston Press 1996);
  • P. King, 'The river Teme and other Midlands River Navigations' Journal of Railway and Canal Historical Society 35(50 (July 2006), 350-1.
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wye". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]