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A guide to paddleboarding the River Wye

The River Wye is the fourth longest river in the UK and one of the most beautiful. It winds along the England/Wales border, from the Welsh mountains, through the Wye Valley, into the Forest of Dean and on to meet the River Severn.

Paddleboarders can access a 100 miles stretch of the river and journey through spectacular landscapes filled with forests, castles, caves, and gorges, plus abundant wildlife spotting opportunities. When you leave the water, there are picturesque villages to stay in, historic towns to visit, and, of course, riverside pubs to help you quench your paddler’s thirst. 

We’ve put together this guide to paddleboarding the River Wye to help you plan your perfect paddleboarding adventure in this fantastic spot.

What time of year can you paddleboard on the River Wye?

All year round! Spring is arguably the best time as the water levels are at their highest, the temperature is mild, and it’s fairly peaceful. The summer brings beautiful paddling weather but also crowds of other paddlers and sunbathers to fill the waterways, river banks and beer gardens. 

We love autumn on the Wye, as the landscape’s changing colours create an evocative atmosphere. And winter paddling is a dream for those who relish empty waterways and frosty mornings. 

Who can paddleboard on the River Wye?

Anyone! That’s the beauty of this river (one of them, anyway)! The Wye has something for everyone, from serene, easy stretches to rapids for those wanting more excitement. 

Beginners can join a lesson or group tour, while endurance enthusiasts can embark on multi-day trips covering vast stretches of the river.

Where should you paddleboard on the River Wye?

You can split the 100 miles of paddle-able water into three rough sections: upper, middle and lower. 

The upper section – roughly from Glasbury to Hereford is ideal for beginners. Wide, slow and peaceful, it’s a gentle paddle through stunning scenery.

The middle section – from Hereford through to Symonds Yat – is more lively and a little faster but still suitable for beginners and intermediates. 

The lower section starts from Symonds Yat and leads to the river’s end in Chepstow. This section requires a little more experience as there are class 2 rapids just below Symonds Yat, and the last section is tidal. 

If you’re paddling with your own gear, check out this page for helpful information on launch points and popular routes. 

Where can you hire paddleboards on the River Wye?

More and more paddleboard rental places are opening up along the River Wye as the sport’s popularity grows. Hereford, Byecross, Ross-on-Wye, Symonds Yat and Monmouth all have hire shops.

Most rental places include transportation. They will either drive you upriver and let you paddle back to the hire shop, or you will set off from the board shop, paddle downriver and then call for pick up when you’re done. That means no hiking with your board, no paddling upriver, and no worrying about designated drivers. Perfect! 

Where can you get paddleboard lessons on the River Wye?

If you’re not happy taking a board out on your own, join a lesson or a tour. You can choose anything from a short taster session to full-day or multi-day trips.

Paddleboard Adventures in Symonds Yat offers courses for all tastes, including introductory paddles, beginner tours, private tuition, overnight camping trips, whitewater lessons and SUP yoga. 

Wye Adventures offers lessons and courses from taster sessions to 7-mile river tours.

Way2Go adventures have half-day, full-day, or multi-day trips with guides and instruction. And they stock large boards to carry pairs or multiple paddlers. 

Where should you stay around the River Wye?

You’ll find accommodation options to suit all tastes along the banks of the River Wye. We especially like the Wye Valley bunkhouse as it’s run by kayakers, so if you have any river-related questions, they can answer them for you. Plus, it’s just 3 miles from literary Hay-on-Wye.

The Boat Inn in Whitney-on-Wye, Herefordshire, is a popular meeting point for paddlers. It’s a charming country inn with lovely rooms, hearty food, a large riverside beer garden, and a campsite. 

For a more luxurious option, try The Bridge House, a beautiful place in Ross-On-Wye that can help you book river trips ahead of time or once you arrive. 

If you fancy camping, try The River Wye Campsite at the start of the paddle section in Glasbury or River Wye Camping at Symonds Yat West. Or, for all the fun of camping without having to rough it, check out Tipi Adventures, where you can combine a stay in a luxury tipi with a trip out on the river!

That’s it,

Hopefully, this guide to paddling the River Wye has answered your questions. But if you still have some, or if you want to tell us your favourite spot to paddle on the Wye, drop us a message! 

Photo by Hayley Trower on Unsplash

Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by Paddleboarding Holidays

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