William Gilpin’s comments on the Wye in 1792 is seen as the first illustrated tour guide published in Britain. This part of the valley is now a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The trail hits upon three historic bridges which have played their roles in the valley’s history.
The six-arch red sandstone Wilton Bridge, completed in 1599 is at one of the river’s most strategically important crossings, and was once protected by Wilton Castle; the Norman fortress was reduced to ruins in the civil war. The bridge suffered the loss of one of its arches but has been maintained by successive generations. In the 18th century, it featured the addition of a multi-faced sundial on an ornate stone pillar. An inscription for travellers reads: “esteem thy precious time.”
The trail heads back upstream over the river on the Sellack Boat Suspension Bridge, a footbridge built in 1895 when local vicars were disputing with ferrymen. Local lore says that a particularly frustrated cleric crossed the river on stilts.
The third crossing is still often referred to as Hoarwithy Toll Bridge, although tolls ended in 1935. The former toll house is still there along-side the modern bridge.
Overlooking Hoarwithy’s Church of St. Catherine brings a feel of the Mediterranean to the valley. The revised 2012 Herefordshire volume of the Pevsner Buildings of England series, describe it as “the most impressive Victorian church in the county.”
The path up from the valley passes a modern landmark, Prothither Solar Farm, an extensive hilltop array of solar panels. The 14th century tower of St. David’s in Little Dewchurch, marks the end of the trail.