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The birthplace of British tourism: the River Wye

Home to varied wildlife, the beautiful River Wye winds through the Herefordshire countryside. We’re hard at work fighting to keep it that way…. You might be surprised to learn that this wide and sleepy river was not only the birthplace of tourism in Britain but of the package holiday!

In the 1770s, people were also staying at home to holiday, (due to war in Europe, rather than a pandemic).

At Ross on Wye, Reverend John Egerton (son of the Bishop of Hereford), commissioned a boat to take his guests on a tour by river. This tour caught on and flourished into the first package holiday.

During the Picturesque Wye Tour, tourists stopped at set romantic and picturesque places along the way, eating at others. Sites on the tour would include the evocative ruins of Tintern Abbey

Instead of the ‘Grand Tour’ of western Europe, patriotic Britons were encouraged to spend their money at home, where they would be safer.

Improved roads, health benefits and the chance to discover unfamiliar parts of the country were all attractive to domestic travellers.

By the start of the 1800s, the River Wye was a firmly established fashionable holiday destination, with 20 guidebooks!

For further information and to download the Picturesque Wye Tour brochure, go to the Wye Valley AONB website.

People getting off a small boat after a trip on the River Wye
Disembarking after a scenic cruise on the River Wye in Symonds Yat