From Dorstone we are a short drive from many good canoeing launch points along the Wye. I have enjoyed many days and half-days paddling the beautiful river.
I have done half-day trips with Paddles and Pedals canoe hire: from the launch point by the Hay bridge, it takes about 3 hours to paddle downriver to the Boat Inn at Whitney on Wye, where you can recover with a drink in the pub before being picked up and taken back to Hay. The views on this stretch of the river are gorgeous – you can see over to Hay Bluff marking the start of the Brecon Beacons, and there are lots of sections of open fields where you can hop off to enjoy a picnic (or just a leg stretch if the paddling position gets too much).
Recently I did a full day trip with Monmouth Canoe Hire. We got kitted out at their rather swanky centre in Monmouth, then they drove us up river about 15 miles to Kerne Bridge. We were in the water around 10am, and made it back to Monmouth around 3pm. That was going at a fairly energetic pace with a leisurely picnic stop just before the Simmonds Yat Rapids. We took our own picnic, though there are a couple of pubs just before the rapids. The scenery is different to the Hay stretch – though just as pretty – with forestry on either side most of the way, and the rocky cliffs (including Simmonds Yat Rock) in sight for a good while. There was quite a suspense built up around “the rapids” on the day. There’s a short stretch of quick water were you need to point the boat between the rocks and just keep paddling – it’s over before you know it!
Things to know: the water level will effect whether or not you can get out – if it’s too high and fast flowing it can be deemed too dangerous or if it’s too low it’s impassable by boat. Check the day before with your hire centre.
Both centres I’ve mentioned offer kayaks and Canadian canoes of different sizes, so accommodate sporty types, leisurely types, big groups, small groups, odd numbers etc etc.
You can opt to have your canoes rafted together, making the canoes more stable. Good for kids (or nervous passengers).
The centres provide you with lifejackets, helmets, maps and a watertight barrel for possessions (and picnics!).