THE River Wye, described as ‘magical and timeless’, has been voted the public’s favourite river in Wales and England.

The awards have been organised by the Our Rivers campaign – backed by WWF Cymru, RSPB, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association – to celebrate the nation’s rivers and highlight the threats to river wildlife.

Since launching in August thousands of people have cast their votes online for the rivers they love, and those which need urgent attention.

The Wye – the source of which is in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon and flows through or past several towns and villages including Rhayader, Builth Wells, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye, Symonds Yat, Monmouth and Tintern, meeting the Severn estuary just below Chepstow – has inspired artists and composers over the years and was chosen for its iconic beauty, and abundance of wildlife.
Voters described it as ‘magical and timeless’, ‘a haven for wildlife’ and a place ‘to get lost and slow down’.

The Wye itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and one of the most important rivers in the UK for nature conservation. Much of the lower valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It is also a popular river with canoeists due to the relatively slow flowing water, making it good for beginners. The Symonds Yat Rapids are more challenging. Walkers can enjoy the Wye Valley Walk which follows the route of the River Wye from Hay-on-Wye to Chepstow along a series of well maintained way-marked paths.

Anne Meikle, head of WWF Cymru, said: “We are thrilled this award has been won by a Welsh river. It is well deserved and clearly the public appreciate the Wye’s beauty, serenity and the wealth of wildlife which make the river and its banks their home. It is a stunning river which captures the imagination of everyone who visits it.
“Despite this the river Wye faces threats, including high levels of pollution from agriculture, declining fish stocks and damage from excessive grazing; problems which need to be dealt with to ensure future generations can enjoy its beauty. But it remains a fantastic place to spot wildlife from sand martins and dippers to dragonflies and salmon.”