(Symonds Yat East to Monmouth)


WHERE IS IT?: Herefordshire, on the border with Wales. Difficult to say whether this is a English or Welsh river! Symonds Yat East is a popular and beautiful spot for tourists, well signposted. The view from Yat Rock is to be recommended, as is the Saracen's Head pub.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put-in near the caravan park/ car park at Symonds Yat East, you will probably (and unfairly?) be charged a 'launching fee' in addition to paying for parking. Take out is in the town of Monmouth, perhaps the best option is the steps just downstream of the Rowing Club on river right.

Aam Richards, Sept 2004...'Fine - but you do have to pay an access fee. Interesting comment I feel. The steps constructed cost well in excess of 4 figures - not far from 5. Why should they not charge to keep this access point open. They charge for the Dart, Tryweryn, HP, Thames, Nene, Tees so why not on what is undoubtedly the UK's most paddled river. A quid for a day's paddle on what 'is undoubtedly one of the finest stretches of river in the UK' is it really that much? And its avaliable all year round not just between 9 and 4 on the weekends. Cheer up - dig deep and help keep the rapids open and avaliable to all. The preservation fund would much appreciate paddlers support in their appeal to keep the river open.'


TIME NEEDED: 2 hours or more.

ACCESS HASSLES: One of the few rivers in our country with a long and undisputed Right of Navigation, from Hay on Wye at least. This has not stopped efforts to alter the management and character of the river in recent years.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is paddleable at all levels. There are pictures in the Saracens Head Pub of the river flowing...through the pub!

GRADING: Grade 1. Mostly completely flat.


GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A lovely trip, especially in warm months. You pass the chain ferry at the putin, then you are immediately approaching the famous (and almost harmless) Symonds Yat rapids. A series of manmade rock walls create eddies on river left of a long island. A great spot for carrying up again, and learning whitewater skills. You could spend all day here if the weather is good.

Downstream, the rapids end but the river is always flowing with small riffly eddylines to enjoy. Long strands of weed brush the bottom of your boat as you drift indolently downstream sunning get the picture. The views are gorgeous too, with the cliffs and hills of the valley all visible from the river.

Features to look out for are the small suspension bridge at the Biblins campsite (1.5 miles) and an island after three miles.

You won't miss Monmouth; the town's approach is counted down by distance markers on river left. It is possible to continue below Monmouth.

Pictures of the Wye

OTHER NOTES: Very much recommended, also a good family/ beginners trip if you are trying to lure them into canoes! They might need to portage the Symonds Yat rapids. The section upstream is also very enjoyable.

"Lara's Logic" (October 2005)...'This had got to be Britain's finest touring river. Our favourite.'

Jim Thornton (April 2004)...'I've been canoeing it below Glasbury for 30 years and a couple of years ago did a river itinerary on an environmentalist website I run.'

Chris Reader (April 2002)...'my name is Chris Reader and I along with my business partner run a canoe hire business from the Symonds Yat Caravan and Camping Park based at Symonds Yat West, telephone no 01600 891 069. We are approx 1.5 miles upstream from the rapids. The Biblins is only for bona fida youth groups and not the general public. Another bit of info which you may find of interest there is a book called the "Canoeists Guide to the River Wye" and covers the length of the river from Glasbury down to Chepstow, cost of this is 5.00 from either ourselves or the tourist info in Ross. You may like to look on our website'

Merlin Jo (not so new to open canoeing!) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. offer some comments...'As a new comer to open canoeing, (i.e. first ever trip) this section of the Wye is a total must. Easy to paddle and with some excitement (the Symonds Yat rapids). Stopping off on route for a pub is slightly tricky as there are no real easy landing spots and a scramble up hill. A "MUST DO"! The take out point at Monmouth is near to the comp school. (guess where the kids gather for the sly fag during break time...local knowledge!)'

The Wye near Llangurig is recommended as a whitewater trip.

Guy Austin (May 2006)...'I've just bought some roof bars for my taxi so I can now offer a canoe transfer service for those who are canoeing on the River Wye. I can pick up at most of the main landing areas between Ross on Wye and Chepstow and take you and your canoe back to your car and starting point. I can carry one canadian canoe or 3 kayaks. I also have cycle racks for cyclists needing transfers. I also give 20% discount on metered fares for canoeists and cyclists. more details on 01600 775408 or

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Adam Richards, Chris Reader, Jim Thornton, Guy Austin, Lara's Logic and Merlin and Jo.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: RIVER WYE (Symonds Yat East to Monmouth) -- Wye Canoes
2013 Jan 22 04:18:26 PM
There is now parking and the ability to launch from Ye Old Ferrie Inn which is on the West side of the river, it's 500m about the rapids at Symonds Yat and we (Wye Canoes) will if we have the space drop you and your boats up river or pick you up from Monmouth or Redbrook. http]
Re: RIVER WYE (Symonds Yat East to Monmouth) -- Mark Thompson
2011 Oct 15 05:16:11 PM
Since the work undertaken jointly by the local canoe clubs and BCU funding, the rapids have now been improved and well worth a visit if you are new to white water or just returning or are local and dont want to travel for white water. The funding resulted in fixed big boulders creating good groynes with eddies behind them idea for practice or starting out. Of course now that the river is used by many tour companies these rapids are now busier than ever but you still get some great breaks to practice skills. I have run many course here focusing on ferry gliding, eddie hopping (up and down stream), reading water, rescue techniques and group management on small sections of white water focusing on communication and awareness. Even in summer levels this is still a good spot with easy carpark, pub for lunch and egress to portage back up stream with paths on both banks.

In medium levels the flows here is obviously quicker and features more defined including a small wave forming at the top which can be surfed or used to eddie hope behind. The eddies become quicker and you can get great oppertunities to play boat on the eddie lines. I have even undertaken cartwheeling coaching with local clients here. It is a popular spot.

In winter when river levels are higher when all the boulders are covered the rapids get washed out. But if paddlers are capable of being on grade 2 water with quick winter flows then i advise that your trips should be moved to paddle other local rivers with many other features, including the Mono, the middle usk, lower Usk or middle Wye.
Re: RIVER WYE (Symonds Yat East to Monmouth) -- slink
2010 Jul 08 08:56:46 AM
Hi all, does anyone know what the level is like at the Yat at the moment? I've looked at the Lucksall gauge webcam, and yes it's low, but how does this relate to Yat rapids? We're thinking of going over next week for a couple of hours - is it worth taking kayaks, or should I go mountain biking instead!

Cheers, Steve
Re: RIVER WYE (Symonds Yat East to Monmouth) -- ed57hinds
2009 Jul 22 03:16:58 PM
Synonds Yat very high on Sat 18th. Rapid completely washed-out. no sign of rocks and just a few standing waves. lots of branches floating down middle of river. Had lots of rain since so don't expect any changes !
Re: RIVER WYE (Symonds Yat East to Monmouth) -- MrNiceGuy
2009 Jul 17 03:54:07 PM
Cheers Andy.

But I mean are the levels at Symonds Yat east rapids good for kayaking at the moment. I can see the one at lucksall is currently in the middle of the stick, but how do i relate this to actual water levels??

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