Royal Hotel

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Date of travel

November, 2020

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Culture / Sightseeing

Just before the lockdown we stayed for a couple of nights in Ross-on-Wye Herefordshire, which is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and it certainly is. This fact was recognised by one of its most eminent citizens – the Man of Ross, John Kyrle. He was an extraordinary philanthropist who came to live here in 1650 and took an active part in improving the town and providing for the welfare of all the local community. It was said that all the enhancements led to Ross becoming the place where British tourism began in the 18th century.

We stayed in the Royal Hotel which is located up high with a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside. Our room was on the top floor where we got to appreciate the wonderful panorama. So, of course, there were lots of stairs. However, we made enquiries on behalf of a friend and the hotel does have a disabled access room on the ground floor. Close by to the hotel is the Gazebo Tower, which looks mediaeval but was actually built in 1833. It was constructed as a viewing tower for the tourist trade. Later it was owned by the Council, put up for sale and is now a private dwelling.

In the centre of the town is the old Market House which dates back to 1650. I went up to the upper floor to browse the arts and crafts produced by a cooperative of local people. There are some lovely walks around and about; either down by the riverside or up on the higher ground in an area called the Prospect, which is located behind the 700-year-old church of St Mary’s. The town has an abundance of old picturesque buildings and small independent businesses (although many of these were closed at the time we visited because of the impending lockdown) The internationally renowned sculptor Walenty Pytel was commissioned to produce sculptures around the town. These are made of metal and the designs are drawn from nature.

There are some beautiful places to explore in the vicinity such as the Forest of Dean and Cannop Ponds. We were careful not to travel into Wales on this occasion because of the restrictions but went 6 miles down the road to visit the Symonds Yat area. The village is divided by the River Wye and has a rope ferry on each side. We sat outside the Saracens Head pub to enjoy a pint of draught ale – a rare delight in lockdown times. It was a lovely peaceful place to appreciate the river scenery.

All I can say is, that we will definitely return to Ross-on-Wye again one day.

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