The Rivers Wye and Usk in Wales


This is the border country where the Silures tribe under Caractus fought the Romans, and where the Normans had to build many castles to protect themselves from the Welsh.

Today all is peaceful, the wooded Wye valley had the glories of Tintern Abbey and the pure waters of the Usk are known for their salmon fishing


wye Usk map wales-roads-map

A guide to the towns and villages in the area follows

Abergavenny A ruined 11th century castle was the scene of a massacre in 1177, many Tudor buildings, and Llanfihangel Court (an Elizabethan Manor House) are among sights in Abergavenny.

The town is the gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the start of the Heads of the alleys road which runs west across the tops of all the great industrial valleys of South Wales

Abertillery Grew as a mining town, as many did in this part of Wales. Now the pits are all closed, but there are still some pitheads top be seen
Caerleon The name means "camp of the legion" and 6000 men of the Roman 2nd Augustan Legion were based here in Ad 80 to keep the local populace in check. The camp covered 50 acres.

8 miles east at Caerwent the Romans built a civilian city, and the town walls are still visible

Chepstow On the river Wye, with a beautiful bride crossing the river at a point where the Romans had a ford. Chepstow grew as a garrison town, the Normans building a vast castle on a rock outcrop over the river.

Remains of Chepstow's medieval walls can still be seen, round the steep streets of the old town

Ebbw Vale Principally a coal mining town, and one linked with the labour Party and Aneurin Bevan and later Michael Foot. Site of a large steel works
Grosmont The ruins of a Norman castle still stand guard. It was here that Owen Glendower was defeated by Henry of Monmouth, later Henry V.

Today this old world hillside town offers angling in the River Monnow

Monmouth At the confluence of  three border rivers, Monmouth has always been important strategically. It had both a Roman settlement and a Norman castle. The future Henry V was born here in 1387..

You can visit several interesting buildings today - Shire Hall built in 1724, 17th century Great Castle House, a museum of Admiral Nelson memorabilia, and many Tudor and Georgian buildings.

The Norman fortified bridge, built in 1260, over the Monnow, with gatehouse and portcullis, is the only surviving one in Britain

Newport An industrial town with an unusual "transporter bridge" to take cars across the River Usk, it is a sort of cable car device for carrying 6 cars.

The best known lines of local poet W H Davies are "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to  stand and stare"

Raglan Best known for Raglan Castle with its long history - 15th century fortified house, which saw action during the Wars of the Roses, and during the Civil War
Tintern Abbeybrecon2.jpg (9783 bytes) The ruins of a beautiful abbey in a particularly beautiful setting. The abbey was founded in 1131, and closed down by Henry VIII in 1536. Tintern is a place that any visitor to the area must visit
Usk Again the Norman castle looks down on the old market town. There is also a 13th century church

Cefntilla Court, the ancestral home of Lord Raglan, lies 2 miles north east of the town

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Land of  legends and mountains - The rivers Wye and Usk in Wales