Last updated on February 28, 2023 by Wandering our World
Symonds Yat is a tiny patch of beautiful land in Hertfordshire, England that’s perfect for a camping holiday.
Nestled in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll be treated to lush greenery and sparkling waterways while camping in and around this popular location in the South of England.
Things to do include hiking, sightseeing, and of course visiting traditional English pubs!
Luckily if you’re planning your own Symonds Yat camping adventure we have everything you need right here. From what to expect at each campsite and any rules that exist, to the best places for food, and even what wildlife you could spot and what time of year is best to see them!
- Getting To Symonds Yat
- The Best Campsites In Symonds Yat
- Camping In Symonds Yat: Rules, Regulations & Advice
- Things To Do When Camping In Symonds Yat
- Places To Eat
- When To Go Camping: Weather, Wildlife & Events
Getting To Symonds Yat
There are many transport links and car rentals across the UK. You can also plan how you will get to Symonds Yat by using a journey planner such as this one.
Symonds Yat is not too difficult to get to by car considering its rural nature.
From Manchester, it will take you 2 hours and 45 minutes in your car via the M6 and M5. It’s around 3 hours from London via the M4, and from Cardiff, it only takes around 50 minutes via the A449 and A40 (Symonds Yat borders South Wales). From Edinburgh, it will take around 6 hours via the M6.
If you’re visiting from Ireland, from Dublin it will take around 7 hours via a car ferry to Holyhead. Once in Holyhead, drive to your destination via the A55.
By Train and/or Bus
From cities like Manchester, the best way via public transport is to get a train to Swansea, and then catch a taxi to Symonds Yat. The taxi would take about half an hour to get there, but it would cost around £30-40. The same advice goes for any other city in the UK.
You can also get a train to Hereford if you can, and then you can get the 33 bus to Cantilupe Road. From there, get the 35 bus to Larksfield. You can then walk 40 minutes to get to Symonds Yat. Unfortunately, because Symonds Yat is so rural, public transport routes are not straightforward!
You could also try getting a train to Gloucester, then walking to the bus station nearby to get the 33 bus. You can then get off at Cantilupe Road and get the 34 bus route to Monmouth – from there it’s a 15-minute walk to Symonds Yat.
The Best Campsites In Symonds Yat
1. River Wye Caravan and Camping Park
Situated on the banks of the River Wye is River Wye Caravan and Camping Park, ideal for those planning to do a lot of woodland walks through the Forest of Dean or the Wye Valley.
There are electric hook-ups available and riverside pitches for your tents. These incur extra costs on top of nightly fees of £11 for adults and £6 for children.
You can bring your dog for £3 a night. As well as camping facilities, there’s also an on-site café.
2. Serrett’s Caravan Park and Campsite
Serrett’s Caravan Park and Campsite is set in the Wye Valley to create the perfect getaway. This park is also ideal for those planning to do a lot of walking through the country, and the River Wye is close by.
You can either book a pitch for your caravan or you can choose from one of their static holiday homes.
There’s also a site for tents, with toilets and showers, as well as a recreational area nearby, where you can rent out a canoe for just £2 a day!
3. Huntsham Bridge Camping
Huntsham Bridge Camping is also within easy access to the Forest of Dean and the River Wye. It is suitable for smaller caravans and tents, and prices per night are £10 per person or under.
If you have a tent larger than 25 square metres, you will have to pay a little more (£3). Just note that pets are not allowed and fires aren’t either – you can hire a fire pit instead.
4. Doward Park Campsite
Doward Park Campsite is located within the Wye Valley, on top of Great Doward – a very large hill! You’ll also be amongst historic market towns and close to the Forest of Dean, and it’s only a mile from the Welsh border.
You can bring your dog here, but fires and fire pits are not allowed – you can use a BBQ instead.
There are plenty of facilities such as showers, dishwashing, toilets, a shop, and phone charging.
5. Elmsdale Camping
You will find Elmsdale Camping Site in the heart of the Wye Valley, on the banks of Garron Brook.
There’re pitches available for tents, caravans, and motorhomes, with electric hook-up options. It’s £12 per night per adult for tents and camper vans, and half that for children. Extra charges incur with hook-ups and larger tents.
Dogs cost £1 per night. Caravan pitches for two adults are £24. Additional adults are £12.
Chalets are also available here for £75 per night with two adults.
Camping In Symonds Yat: Rules, Regulations & Advice
Keep in mind that these rules are a guide, and your campsite may have its own individual rules and restrictions.
You can also look at specific laws surrounding nature and wildlife in England here.
Free/Wild Camping In Symonds Yat
Free camping is not permitted in the UK unless you have explicit permission from the relevant National Park, or you are in a National Park that tolerates free camping for those on multiple-day hikes.
This means you have to set up camp only when it turns dark and leave just before dawn. You should also follow any ‘leave-no-trace’ guidance.
If you’re desperate for a free camping experience, you can visit this site to join a club with an annual membership fee that will find you landowners that are happy to let you stay on their plot for a while.
You can also camp in places like The Forest Bracelands campsite in Symonds Yat Rock, which are surrounded by nature – these sites are for tents only, but there is a car park nearby.
Looking After Yourself & Nature
Leaving no trace means just that: when you leave, make it look as though you were never there! Take all rubbish with you or discard it in a designated bin.
Any fires lit should be fully put out – you can never be too careful. Throw water over the fire, stir it, and water it again. Use any designated fire pits or fire rings.
Anything natural should be left as is too: rocks, trees, pebbles, burrows, wildflowers, underfoot nests, nests in the trees, frogspawn etc. If you accidentally harm something endangered, you might be fined.
Avoid disturbing or contaminating the surrounding environment by washing and cleaning at least 30 metres away from any natural water sources, like streams, lakes, and rivers.
Bury your waste if you need to relieve yourself on a hike, and tampons or pads should be taken with you and discarded. Don’t bury them as animals can dig them up.
To really ensure you don’t contaminate wildlife, you can use organic, plant-based cleaners and toiletries which are easily found in large supermarkets in the UK. You can also find soap bars if you want to reduce plastic waste, and biodegradable wipes are widely available.
Another environmentally friendly tip is to bring any biodegradable supermarket bags you have lying around with you for your food waste. These bags can go in compost heaps.
Protecting the environment also means considering your surrounding camping environment too – stay as quiet as possible so you don’t annoy other people, and stick to smaller groups.
You only really need to worry about biting insects like gnats, midges, and mosquitos during the warmer months. The easiest way to avoid bites is to wear long sleeves and use insect repellent.
Other things to consider are pitching your tent somewhere on high ground or somewhere well-drained – as dampness attracts insects – and to also position your tent away from the direction of the wind so insects don’t get blown into your face when you leave your tent. Zip up your tent as soon as you leave it so insects can’t get in.
Finally, use non-fragranced products, and seal away food, rubbish, and any other waste. If you can set fires, it may be worth doing so at dusk (when biting insects are most active) as smoke deters insects.
Ticks can also be avoided by wearing long sleeves and insect repellent. They’re definitely to be avoided as they can cause severe irritation and long-term illnesses if infectious.
Keep tweezers on you to pull them out: grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and steadily and slowly pull upwards. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol or antiseptic wipes.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, you may walk through fields of cattle. Just keep a good distance and don’t disturb them.
Read this overview of freshwater fishing rules in England. You need a rod licence if you’re over 13 years old and you should follow the rules of privately owned bodies of water.
Things to Bring
Here are some essentials you should bring with you when camping in Symonds Yat:
- A water filter
- Rubbish bags
- A filtered torch
- Warm clothing
- Waterproof clothing
- Insect repellent
- A fire pit
- First aid kit
- Plant-based/organic and non-fragranced toiletries
- Plant-based/organic cleaning products
Things To Do When Camping In Symonds Yat
1. Symonds Yat Trail
The main reason for visiting Symonds Yat is to explore its beautiful natural heritage through walks and hikes.
There are half a dozen official trails, and the Symonds Yat Trail (in Symonds Yat Rock) is one of the best. It’s an easy and accessible walk spanning just over a mile.
You’ll be taken through the Iron Age fort and into beautiful woodland. Along the way are some boards with information about the surrounding wildlife.
2. Symonds Yat to Biblins Loops
Symonds Yat to Bilbins Loops is a moderate 5km trail (not fully marked) that will take you along the River Wye and over Bilbins Bridge, a suspension mesh bridge which connects the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (check if it is open here).
At the end, there’ll be a café waiting for you with refreshments!
3. Highmeadows Trail
Highmeadows Trail is for hardcore hikers, as it takes 5 hours on average to complete (11 miles). In places it can be muddy and steep, so wear the right gear.
This trail also includes a ferry crossing, and you should look out for King Arthur’s Cave and the Seven Sister Rocks on your journey.
If you don’t want to include the ferry, it will be a 13-mile walk. There is also a 9-mile trail that does not go over the river. You need to be a member of the Forest of Dean Ramblers.
4. Ancient Hill Fort
Along the Wye, you will probably come across this amazing piece of history. This Ancient Hill Fort is thought to have originated around 700BC-43AD and was built as a defensive mechanism.
Historians believe that this site was also the centre of politics, religion, and trade locally.
5. The aMazing Hedge Puzzle
Nope – the title does not have a typo! The aMazing Hedge Puzzle is a great option for young families in Symonds Yat looking for something to occupy and entertain.
As well as mazes, you can book a visit to the Butterfly Zoo, a mini golf session, or a game of laser tag. View all the prices here. Tickets tend to be around £10 or less.
6. Canoeing on the River Wye
Along the River Wye, you may come across Canoe the Wye Ltd, Wye Canoes Ltd, and Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Ltd, plus many more businesses that offer canoes to rent.
Half a day costs around £50-60 for 2 people depending on which business you go for (children cost less), but it’s a great way to experience Symonds Yat.
Places To Eat In Symonds Yat
1. Cross Keys Inn
Situated in the Wye Valley, you may come across Cross Keys Inn on your way to Symonds Yat.
Here you’ll of course be served drinks and traditional, warming pub food like steak, scotch eggs, Sunday roasts, and fish and chips. There are also rooms available if you need somewhere to stay for a night.
2. Crown Spice Lounge
Crown Spice Lounge serves fine food in a fine atmosphere. As the name suggests, here you’ll be served a range of Indian curries and other flavourful dishes from other countries in southern Asia and East Europe. There are also takeaway services available.
3. The Potting Shed Whitchurch
The Potting Shed is a restaurant with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a good place to visit for those with special dietary needs, such as those who are veggie, non-gluten, non-dairy etc.
Ingredients are locally sourced and fresh, with herbs and salad veg being grown by the restaurant itself. Dishes include omelettes, soups, pasta, various lunch foods and desserts too.
4. The New Inn
The New Inn is a highly awarded place to stay and eat near Symonds Yat. Many special diets are also catered to here, including vegan diets.
The menu types are endless: a lunch menu, a dinner menu, a bar menu, an A la Carte menu, and most importantly, a Sunday lunch menu! You have to buy a set meal and they can be pricey, so coming here is a treat.
5. No3 Restaurant
With a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere is No3 Restaurant, and they also have a vegan menu. Main courses include the catch of the day, slow-cooked pork, and steak.
There are also burgers, curries, and soups. They also serve light lunches.
When To Go Camping In Symonds Yat: Weather, Wildlife & Events
You may want to time your trip so that it aligns with your preferred events and conditions.
Symonds Yat is beautiful at all times of the year, but if you’re planning to do a lot of hiking and camping, you may want to stick to the milder and clearer months.
December, January, and February are the coldest months of the year, with lows of 3 degrees C or under.
Springtime is a little more pleasant with temperatures keeping to around 17 degrees C in the later months of May and early June.
June, July, and August have warm highs of around 20 degrees C, but heat waves can make temperatures reach 40 degrees C.
The wetter months are during winter but expect frequent rain throughout the year.
Symonds Yat is a haven for all sorts of wildlife watchers, especially birdwatchers.
Along the River Wye and around cliffs you may spot peregrine falcons swooping down, particularly at dawn and dusk from April to August, when they are breeding and hunting for food.
In the same area, you may also spot the Goshhawk, Sparrowhawk, and the Common Buzzard. Migrations of Ospreys can be seen during spring and autumn too.
Nesting birds to look out for include Kingfishers, Sand Martins, Swifts, Swallows, and House Martins. During summer, within open clearings like moorland and heathland, you may spot the elusive Nightjar just as the sun sets. Keep your eyes peeled as their camouflage is very effective.
Other mammals in Symonds Yat forestland include dormice, deer, bats, and wild boar. Canoeing along the river you may spot otters, salmon leaping in early summer, and kingfishers.
Multiple events take place in and around Symonds Yat, including:
- Ross on Wye Country Market: here you will find plenty of baked goods and fresh produce.
- Wye Valley Trail Running Challenge: take part in this annual challenge, starting from Biblins Youth Campsite.
- Symonds Yat Horseshoe Swim: swim 6km along the river from The Old Court Hotel in this annual challenge.