The Picturesque Wye Tour | Taith Bictiwiésg Dyffryn Gwy
Dyffryn Ysbrydoledig - Man Geni Twristiaeth Prydain

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Lower Wye Valley

Below Monmouth the Wye flows past several small rural villages which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were important industrial settlements. The river was the focus of travel and trade as there was no road through the valley between Chepstow and Monmouth until 1828.

Boat building was an important industry in the villages of Brockweir, Llandogo and Tintern. The larger local boats, flat-bottomed barges known as trows, could sail as far as Brockweir where cargoes were unloaded onto smaller boats to be carried upstream. Coracles were also a common craft on the river.

Surprisingly the scenes of industrial activity along the Wye were considered Picturesque by the tourists. Redbrook’s iron and tin works ‘gave animation to the romantic scenery’ thought Archdeacon Coxe when he visited in 1799. At Whitebrook wire and paper were manufactured and, “Within half a mile of it (Tintern Abbey) are carried on great iron-works, which introduce noise and bustle into these regions of tranquillity” wrote Gilpin. He was referring to the Angidy Ironworks which had made Tintern an important industrial centre for over 300 years. Following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, Tintern would have faded into obscurity but for the fact that the Crown chose to establish a foundry for brass and iron in the Angidy Valley. At its peak over 600 people were employed in Tintern.

Along this lower stretch the valley is largely forested, one of the main changes in the landscape over the past two hundred years. At the time of the Wye Tours much of the woodland was coppiced to feed lime kilns and furnaces. Trees were also felled for bark, used in the tanning industry and for timber, especially for pit props in the Dean mines. Many conifers have been planted since World War I, although this is nothing new. “Will it never be known that firs in groups are like plumes on the graves of the Picturesque?” wrote Fosbrook in 1818.