Symonds Yat is a beautiful village in the Wye Valley and on the edge of the Forest of Dean.
It is a popular tourist destination, straddling the River Wye and the borders of the English counties of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, it is within a few miles of the Welsh border. The name is said to come from Robert Symonds, a 17th century sheriff of Herefordshire and "yat" as an old word for a gate or pass.
The village of Symonds Yat is cut in two, by the River Wye, with Symonds Yat West being on the Herefordshire side of the riverand Symonds Yat East, in Gloucestershire. The east and west are connected by two traditional hand pull ferries enabling foot passengers to cross the river, thus avoiding a 5 mile road trip. One ferry is operated by the Saracens Head Inn and the other, further upstream, by the Olde Ferrie Inn.
Symonds Yat Rock, at 500 feet above sea level, overlooks the spectacular, heavily wooded, gorge, through which the River Wye snakes, and the viewpoint affords stunning views of several counties.
This rock is the perfect vantage point from which to watch the 'theatre of nature'. The headline act being a pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest annually within sight of the rock, and can be watched through telescopes set up by the RSPB. Buzzard, Goshawk, Hobby, ravens and jackdaws, barn owls and bustards are regularly seen too, and migrant raptors such as Osprey and Honey Buzzard are possible. You might also spot fallow deer, badgers and foxes.
The River Wye at Symonds Yat has cut a deep gorge in the Carboniferous Limestone exposing impressive cliff faces, with fantastic opportunities for the more adventurous amongst you, for abseiling, rock climbing an caving.
Symonds Yat was featured on the 2005 TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the West Country. More recently, in January 2012, this beautiful tourist destination was featured on BBC Country file. Nearby, at Puzzlewood, the BBC series Merlin is filmed, this location is also used regularly in Doctor Who.
Below Yat Rock are the Symonds Yat Rapids. Iron mining was one of the most important industries of the Forest of Dean, the reason for the ralway at SymondsYat East. The ore smelting works were sited at the bottom of the rapids, and some remains are still evudent. The slag was put in the river and now forms the island in the centre of the rapids.
Wye Rapids Cottages are built on the original site of the Wye Rapids Hotel and takes it name from the magnificent viewpoint of the gardens overlooking Symonds Yat Rapids.
Popular tourist activities include canoeing, kayaking and white water training down the rapids, boat trips, climbing on Yat Rock and walking the numerous paths that wind through the woods, including the Wye Valley Walk, beautiful in springtime with bluebells and wild garlic and ablaze with colour in the autumn.
Take a look at these excellent sites for more information about the area