Guidance

Information to help boaters on the River Wye

Details of access points, events and facilities on the River Wye.

The River Wye is 251km long. It drains a catchment containing a rich and varied landscape spanning the Welsh and English borders. It rises in the uplands of mid Wales, flowing past the towns of Rhayader, Builth Wells, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth, entering the Severn Estuary at Chepstow.

The Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the River Wye, from Hay to Bigsweir Bridge. Navigation on the tidal Wye, below Bigsweir, is the responsibility of Gloucester Harbour Trustees.

The Wye Navigation Advisory Committee meets in spring and autumn, helping to maintain sustainable recreation and navigation on the River Wye.

For details of the committee and a copy of approved minutes, please email wye-navigation@environment-agency.gov.uk.

River access for boaters

Boaters have confirmed legal access on the River Wye between Hay-on-Wye and Chepstow (where the River Wye enters the Severn Estuary). Upstream of Hay-on-Wye there are a number of negotiated access points.

Access upstream of Hay Bridge

  • there is no confirmed legal right of navigation upstream of Hay Bridge
  • access to navigate the upper Wye is disputed
  • there are two arrangements to help facilitate shared access and river use between anglers and paddlers; please refer to the Wye & Usk Foundation website and the Canoe Wye website for further details
  • much of the upper Wye isn’t recommended for beginners, or boaters who don’t have considerable experience of white water; please read the available guides before paddling
  • it is recommended that you check and if necessary obtain permission from the owner(s) of the riverbed along your route before you access the river

Access downstream of Hay Bridge

  • the public right of navigation doesn’t give an absolute right of access to the river bank downstream of Hay Bridge, except in an emergency, or to prevent one
  • other than at accepted public sites or where there is public access to the river bank, you should get permission from the owner of the riverbank/surrounding land before you launch or land your boat
  • any use of the banks must be not only incidental to your navigation, but also reasonable and considerate to the needs of landowners and other users
  • permission is needed to camp or picnic on the banks or neighbouring fields

River Wye event calendar 2018

There may be river restrictions around each event.

If you are participating in an event make sure you’re aware of the Wye Code of Conduct; a guide to using the river without reducing the enjoyment of others or damaging the environment:

Date Event Organiser
Sunday 16 September A Trust Riverfest Qualifier – all waters Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 23 September Monmouth Autumn Head at Monmouth Rowing Club Monmouth Rowing Club
Sunday 23 September Wild Wye Swim – Lydbrook to Symonds Yat Severn Area Rescue Association
Sunday 30 September J Burrows Charity Match – all club waters Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 7 October Winter League - Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Friday 12 October Under 25’s 2 Day Festival Hereford and District Angling Association
Saturday 13 October Under 25’s 2 Day Festival Hereford and District Angling Association
Saturday 13 October Slalom at Symonds Yat rapids Cheltenham Canoe Club
Sunday 14 October Slalom at Symonds Yat rapids Cheltenham Canoe Club
Sunday 28 October 56th Wye Championship on River Wye at all club waters Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 4 November Winter League - Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Monday 5 November Bonfire and Fireworks night at Monmouth Rowing Club Rotary Club of Monmouth
Wednesday 7 November Hereford 3 Day Festival - Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Thursday 8 November Hereford 3 Day Festival - Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Friday 9 November Hereford 3 Day Festival - Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Saturday 17 November Angling Trust Riverfest Final – Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 18 November Angling Trust Riverfest Final – Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Saturday 24 November Angling Trust Riverfest Final – Belmont (reserve date) Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 25 November Angling Trust Riverfest Final – Belmont (reserve date) Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 9 December Monmouth Winter Head at Monmouth Rowing Club Monmouth Rowing Club
Sunday 2 December Winter League at Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association
Sunday 16 December Winter League at Belmont Hereford and District Angling Association

If you are planning an event or know of an event which isn’t on the Environment Agency calendar, please email wye-navigation@environment-agency.gov.uk.

If you would like more information about an event please contact the event organiser:

Organisation Contact email
Canoe Camping Club Tim Wheeler, 01302 851316 / 07528 373387 holidaymeet@canoecampingclub.co.uk
Cheltenham Canoe Club Alison Longhurst yatslalom@cheltenhamcanoeclub.com
Committee for Herefordshire Amateur Rafters Mrs P C Hales, 07977 388120 phales@horizontraining.org.uk
Hereford and District Angling Association John Pembridge, 01432 359 701 johnpembridge@talktalk.net
Hereford Kayak Club Tony Spencer or Andrew Wibmer spencertony1951@gmail.com andrewwibmer@hotmail.com
Hereford River Carnival Mrs P C Hales, 07977 388120 phales@horizontraining.org.uk
Hereford Rowing Club 01432 273915 hrcsectretary@btconnect.com
Leicester Outdoor Persuits Centre Andy Oughton, 07929 196 569 andy@soarpaddler.co.uk
Madsat Raft Race Madsat Raft Team, 07935 204176  
Monmouth Rowing Club Eric Froggatt, 01600 772799 or 07810 483466 regatta@monmouthrc.org.uk
Monmouth School Sports Club Iain MacDonald I.MacDonald@monmouthschool.org
Monmouth Triathalon Club Richard Newhouse, 07584 287887 richardnewhouse42@gmail.com
Open Canoe Association Andy Oughton, 07929 196569 andy@soarpaddler.co.uk
PaddlePlus Canoe Club Andy Oughton, 07929 196 569 andy@soarpaddler.co.uk
Ross Rowing Club Niki Ryan chairman@rossrowingclub.co.uk
Rotary Club of Monmouth Contact for Walk the Wye and Bonfire and Fireworks - Norman Williams, 01291 680 016. Contact for Monmouth Raft Race - David Forbes, 01600 712 665 monmouthrotaryclub@gmail.com or monmouthraftrace@sky.com
Severn Area Rescue Association, Wild Wye Swim Richard Newhouse, 07584 287887 richardnewhouse42@gmail.com
Wye Float 2018 Matthew Taylor, 07784 281525 wyefloat@gmail.com

Canoe facilities

To help you plan and enjoy your canoe trip on the River Wye the Environment Agency produced a detailed guide to the River Wye, Canoeists’ guide to the River Wye or you can buy a hard copy online or in bookshops near the River Wye. Updates for the 2009 and 2011 editions of the canoeists guide are available online Updates to Canoeists’ guide to the River Wye, July 2012

The guide contains practical information to help plan your journey, featuring:

  • a series of 12 maps, based on Ordnance Survey data
  • navigation and recreational advice
  • health and safety guidelines
  • where you can launch and land
  • river grades for the Wye
  • tourist information on local parking, refreshments, camping, useful addresses and telephone numbers
  • Code of Conduct for the River Wye

The Environment Agency are indebted to Ron and Ruth Shoesmith who wrote previous editions of this guide and to the late Allen Greenhill who was the co-author of the first edition in 1968 and the inspiration behind its publication. The Environment Agency would also like to thank the local access officers of the British Canoe Union and the Welsh Canoeing Association, who provided advice on the contents of this guide.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this guide is accurate. No liability can be accepted for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions. In particular, readers should note that details such as land ownership, camp sites and landing places can change

Published 12 May 2014
Last updated 10 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Update to both upstream and downstream access information
  2. New event and contact details added
  3. New events added to calendar. Old dates removed
  4. New dates added to the event calendar and contact details added
  5. Event table and contact details updated for 2018
  6. New event date and associated contact details added.
  7. New event dates added to calendar and associated contact details.
  8. New event dates added to calendar and contact details updated.
  9. Change to information in 'Access downstream of Hay Bridge' section
  10. Event calendar updated with 2017 details.
  11. Notes about access restrictions downstream of Hay Bridge
  12. Old dates from event calendar removed
  13. Old event dates removed from calendar
  14. Events calendar updated
  15. organisation contact details changed and new dates for October added.
  16. January to June event dates removed.
  17. New event date added to calendar and Monmouth Triathalon Club details added
  18. New event dates and contact details added.
  19. Update information about how to get copies of approved minutes.
  20. New events and contact details added.
  21. New event added
  22. New date added to event calendar and new entry added to contact list.
  23. New dates added to events calendar
  24. Event calendar updated.
  25. First published.