Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount
Award-winning vineyards, traditional bakeries, canoeing on the River Wye and wandering into the hills: there’s plenty to enjoy car-free around Monmouth. Birthplace of Henry V, the little market town on two rivers has a host of historical sites including a ruined castle and a unique thirteenth-century bridge over the river Monnow. Buses to Monmouth leave from Chepstow every hour on weekdays, along the Wye Valley. From Newport bus station, they leave every two hours, Monday to Saturday, passing through a string of pretty towns and villages on the way.
1. Walking, canoeing and food
From Monmouth’s tiny bus station, turn left up Monmow Street to historic Agincourt Square with a tourist office in the Shire Hall and a Saturday market outside.
- Try a handmade ice cream from Green and Jenks, across the road from Shire Hall, where flavours include things like raspberry pavlova and strawberry cream tea.
- What’s left of Monmouth Castle, along with a volunteer-run regimental museum, is up Castle Hill on the left.
- Beyond Shire Hall, you can wander up pretty, flag-hung Church Street, with its cafés, greengrocer, butchers and sweetshop. Turn right at the church onto St Mary’s Street, past Wigmore’s traditional bakery, making favourites like Swansea bloomer and bara brith (Welsh fruit loaf).
- Turn left at the end of St Mary’s and right before the Queen’s Head pub. Take the underpass under the main road and turn L along the River Wye, with the water on your right. You can rent kayaks and canoes from the Monmouth Canoe Hire, left under the next tunnel (from £40/ half day).
- A half-mile walk further along the Wye brings you to St Peter’s church (don’t miss the flood markers on the wall inside).
- For longer hikes, try more of the Wye Valley Walk or follow Offa’s Dyke Path up into the woods on either side of the town.
2. Lunch at a vineyard
A short but rewarding local walk (about a mile each way) leads to the biodynamic Ancre Hill Vineyard, where you can sample Welsh cheeses and a glass of wine on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes (£15/head). Ring 01600 714152 in advance to get special walkers’ access via back gate.
- How to get to Ancre Hill Vineyard: From the lane to Monmouth Castle, take the track heading right over footbridge. Keep straight and then right on permissive paths.
- Turn left through gate on path beside River Monmow and follow footpath to reach tarmac track. Turn right through a gate, left onto Ancre Hill Lane and continue for half a mile to visit the vineyard.
- For a different route back to Monmouth, return on the same lane, but turn right at a signpost, up steps and over stile. Follow the path over three fields and two stiles. Go through three gates before turning left and then along a riverside path. Cross a stile and footbridge and turn right around pond. Turn left through a gate, onto Rochfield Road and keep straight into Drybridge Street. Turn left over the ancient Monmow Bridge and walk past the shops back to the bus station.