Newsletter & Festive Opening Times

Welcome to our Christmas Newsletter.

Just a couple of updates which some may find of interest, we are having a new roof over the bar area, new facade and creation of two brand new river facing rooms; using only the finest locally sourced builders and scaffolders. Here are a few photos, but it’s business as usual inside.

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Football Sponsorship

The Saracens Head Inn are proud to continue our kit sponsorship two Ross junior football teams; Ross Under 9 Colts and Ross Under 17′s.

Ross Under 9 Colts
Ross Under 9 Colts

New Food Photos

We serve food seven days a week, lunchtimes and evenings and have recently commissioned Jack Spicer Adams to take some photos of our chef’s latest offerings.

Slow-braised Welsh Flat Beef Rib with pomme puree, stockpot carrots, and caramelised shallots with herb jus.
Slow-braised Welsh Flat Beef Rib with pomme puree, stockpot carrots, and caramelised shallots with herb jus.

Christmas and New Year period Opening Times

Open as usual until Friday 23rd of December.

Saturday December 24th Christmas Eve, open until 4.00pm, food served until 2.30pm.

Christmas Day closed all day.

Boxing Day Monday 26th of December until Thursday the 5th of January 2017, including New Years Eve and New Years Day, open until 4.00pm food served until 3.00pm.

Friday January 6th 2017 onward, open as usual.

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WE WISH ALL OUR CUSTOMERS AND FRIENDS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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View from Severn Sisters

Things To Do in Symonds Yat!

Many thousands of people visit Symonds Yat each year, and summer is by far the busiest time. There is so much to see and do if you visit, it’s not all about food and drink though.

The Saracen’s Head Inn is excellently located for exploring the Wye Valley, Forest of Dean and the surrounding area. Whether you are looking for fun-packed days out, or simply relaxing.

Our ancient riverside Inn makes an ideal base from which to explore the Wye Valley, Forest of Dean, Brecon Beacons, The Black Mountains and the many castles and other ancient monuments in the area.

The Inn is situated in Symonds Yat East, equidistant from the market towns of Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth (approximately 5 miles away). The larger market towns of Hereford and Abergavenny being within easy driving distance.

We take a brief look at some of the many things you may wish to try while visiting this rural corner of Herefordshire.

Wye Valley Walks

Looking towards the Doward
Looking towards the Doward

There are loads of things to do in Symonds Yat itself.

It is in a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is well known for its scenic riverside and forest walks. Symonds Yat is renowned for is natural river scenery and the magnificent view from Symonds Yat Rock.

The area of Symonds Yat lies within the borders of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Many people mistakenly think that Symonds Yat is in Wales, it isn’t, however it is very near the border of Monmouthshire and you can easily wander into Wales when exploring Symonds Yat without ever knowing.

If you’re into hiking or walking take a look at our Wye Valley Walks article here.

Cycling

The Peregrine Path is a level cycle route which traces the river from Monmouth along the river to The Saracens.

It follows the old railway line for 10km and is great for all ages Download The Peregrine Path Map and Hire a bike for the day.

There are various other off-road tracks and easy access to the Forest of Dean, Pedal A Bike Away will be able to inform you of the many different cycling routes in Symonds Yat and the Forest of Dean.

Fishing

Fishing The Wye
Fishing The Wye

The River Wye is one of the finest fishing destinations in the UK. It is the fifth-longest river in the UK, stretching some 215 kilometres (134 mi) from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales to the Severn estuary.

For much of its length the river forms part of the border between England and Wales. The Wye Valley (lower part) is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Wye is important for nature conservation and recreation, fishing has traditionally played a large role in both survival for people living near it and for tourism.

You can find barbel, chub and pike as well as roach, dace, perch and even the odd carp.

Residents of the Saracen’s Head Inn can fish for free on the Newport Anglers stretch outside of the Inn but only during the coarse fishing season which runs from 16th June to 14th March.

Please see www.anglingdreams.co.uk for all your fishing related enquiries.

Canoeing

Canoeing Symonds Yat
Canoeing Symonds Yat

Why not explore the area by River? You can hire a canoe or kayak from the Wyedean Canoe & Adventure Centre located next to The Saracens Head.

It’s a brilliant way to explore the nooks and crannies of the river, you can start up stream and work down over the course of a day or start from near the Saracen’s Head Inn and canoe up stream with a gentle meander back down.

You will see the area in a completely different light and it’s always a great way to work up a thirst and appetite for the evening.

River Cruises

If canoeing isn’t your thing, you can try a scenic gentle river cruise with guided talk.

Kingfisher cruises operate from outside The Saracens Head. They offer 45 min cruises along the River with guided commentry.

Bird Watching

Peregrine Symonds Yat
Peregrine Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint is well known as one of the best, if not THE best site to watch Peregrine Falcons.

However, there is much more to be seen and regular birdwatchers can be well rewarded for their patience.

You can find King Fishers, Goshawks, Tawny Owls, Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Swifts, Swallows and House Martins to name but a few.

You will find more information on bird watching in Symonds Yat on the RSPB Symonds Yat Rock page.

Rock Climbing

Climbing in Symonds Yat
Climbing in Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat couldn’t be a better place to experience the thrill and excitement of Rock Climbing, with heights from 10 metres to 30 metres plus!

Climbing on the natural surrounding Limestone cliffs with professional instructors is perfect for those who want to experience Climbing in a safe and relaxing environment or those who want to perfect their skills.

Wye Dean Adventure Centre is situated next to the Saracen’s Head Inn car park and offers everything you will need.

Their instructors are either SPA (Single Pitch Award), MIA or MIC- qualified and site specifically trained, so you can enjoy your experience knowing that you are in safe and competent hands.

A 3 hour Climbing session starts at the land centre at Symonds Yat Rock. With only a 10 minute walk to the cliffs you get the most out of your time. More info here.

Caving

Caving Symonds Yat
Caving Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat is riddled with interesting caves, some man made, some natural and others a combination of the two. There are a few caves near the Biblins which are of special archeological interest such as King Arthur’s cave.

Walk, crawl and sometimes shuffle through miles of passageways into vast open caverns with stalactites and stalagmites. Many Species of Bats call the Caves home and the only way to get a close up look is to go caving!

All of Wye Dean’s caving instructors are Qualified Cave leaders and are site specific trained on the surrounding caves.

A 3 hour session starts from their centre and entails a short walk to the start of the caves, you are given a boiler suit, helmet and light and with a brief explanation of where you are going, you then set off into the caves being lead by the instructor.

Suitable for novices and experienced alike. You can choose a cave system that is suitable for your requirements.

Caving is great fun for all persons aged 8 and upwards. See Wye Dean Adventure Centre for more info.

Hedge Puzzle & Butterfly Zoo

Butterfly Symonds Yat
Butterfly Symonds Yat

The Jubilee Maze is one of Britain’s most famous traditional hedge mazes, with a romantic temple at the centre and over a kilometre of hedges. It was planted by Lindsay and Edward Heyes in 1977.

Find your way then play! This maze is a great place to play tag or Marco Polo with all the family. Not up to running around? Play by stealth! There’s a viewing platform for calling directions… but who can you trust?

Next door is the Butterfly Zoo. You can walk with butterflies from around the world. Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo is indoors, it’s tropical and it’s teeming with exotic butterflies.

Living butterflies fly around as you discover their fascinating lives in close-up. They’re amazing. See for yourself every stage of their life-cycle: Egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies.

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Herefordshire and Wye Valley Dessert

The Saracen’s Head Inn ‘Wye Valley Desserts’

We take our food and drink pretty seriously here at the Saracen’s Head Inn, and we have had some extremely talented chefs rise up through the ranks over the years. Our latest addition to the team is junior sous/pastry chef Jamie Tully.

Jamie is a 22 year old Builth Wells lad with a huge passion for crafting exceptionally delicious desserts. Jamie has relocated to the heart of the Wye Valley, Herefordshire and he aims to capture your heart through his love of desserts, puddings and pies!

We asked Jamie if he could provide a few words on his career so far:

“My professional career began at Newtown college, I studied there for two years and completed my third year as an apprentice at the Lake country house hotel in Llangamarch Wells. I worked there for 2 years and left as CDP/ Pastry chef.”

“Since then ive worked in all kinds establishments. Ive been fortunate enough to have gained work experience in some of the countries top michelin starred restaurants. I have also travelled with my career, I have worked in France, Spain, Bulgaria, America and most recently I completed 2 ski seasons in Austria. Now I’m excited for my next adventure, and future at the Saracens Head Inn.”

Jamie’s Saracen’s Head Inn Desserts

Oops I Dropped The Cheese Cake

A deconstructed vanilla cheese cake, homemade honey comb, sous vide and burnt rhubarb, or blackberries and baked white chocolate.

Herefordshire Dessert 10b

Chocolate

A bitter chocolate panna cotta, salted chocolate sauce, vanilla puree, baked white chocolate, white chocolate foam and goose berry sorbet. Made with Rowlstone Farm Herefordshire ice cream and sorbets.

Herefordshire Dessert 14

Apple Tarte Tatin

Made with Rowlstone Farm vanilla fudge ice cream, and home made honey comb.

Herefordshire Dessert 2

Iced Hazelnut Parfait

Delicious hazelnut parfait with toasted hazelnuts, bitter chocolate sauce, and Rowlstone Farm caramel ice cream.

Herefordshire Dessert 13

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Christmas in Symonds Yat

Winter Menus and Festive Opening Times

Welcome to our last post for 2015. We’ve included links to our winter menus, a special Christmas set menu, and our opening times over the festive period.

Symonds Yat in WinterAlso we now supply gift voucher/letters – these can be for accommodation or meals, can be for any amount, and can be personalised with the name of the recipient and sender, with any message. Please enquire at the pub for more information.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

From all at the Saracens Head Inn, hope to see you soon!

Chris, Pete, Paul and team.

Our Winter Menus

Herefordshire Pie 2“Our ingredients are carefully selected and wherever possible are seasonal and locally produced.
We are passionate about what we do and everything we serve has been prepared freshly for you” – Richard Weare, Head Chef, The Saracens Head Inn.

>>click here for Winter Dinner Menu

>>click here for Winter Lunch Menu

Christmas set menu

3 Courses £26.95 or 2 Courses £23.95

To Start

Wye Valley RisottoSpiced Carrot & Lentil Soup
Garlic & Rosemary Bread

Chicken Liver Parfait
Cider Apple Chutney & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Wood Pigeon Breast
Textures of Beetroot & Goats Cheese

Mushroom & Per Las Risotto
Tarragon Oil & Baby Leaf

Main Course

Blade of Welsh Beef
Chive Mash and Pancetta, Maple Vegetables & Hickory Jus

Roasted Free Range Turkey
Chestnut Stuffing, Sprouts & Rosemary & Thyme Roast Potatoes

Seabass & Chorizo
Red Wine, Potato Croquette & Red PepperHerefordshire dessert

Twice Baked Goats Cheese & Walnut Souffle
Roasted Butternut Squash, Pear & Rocket Salad

Desserts

Trio of Ice Cream or Sorbets
Winter Berry & Strawberry Coulis

Pain Au Chocolate & Croissant Pudding
Wye Valley Honey & Vanilla Custard

Baileys Cheesecake
Caramelised Hazelnuts

Local Cheese Selection
Artisan Biscuits, Grapes & Celery

Finish

Tea or Coffee & Petit Fours.

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR OPENING

Wednesday 23rd December: 11.00 – 11.00pm
Thursday 24th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Christmas Day: Closed
Christmas in Symonds Yat 2
Boxing Day: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Sunday 27th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Monday 28th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Tuesday 29th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Wednesday 30th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Thursday 31st December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

New Years Day: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Saturday 2nd January: 11.00 – 4.00pm
Sunday 3rd January: 11.00 – 4.00pm
( Food served 12.00-3.00pm on these dates )

Back to normal hours from Monday 4th January,
that’s ALL DAY – EVERYDAY

(FOOD SERVED 12.00 – 2.30pm and 6.30 – 9.00pm)

*Food images courtesy of Adele Brain Photography. www.facebook.com/AdeleBrainPhotography/

 

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A Herefordshire Restaurant (Food & Drink of The Wye Valley)

Herefordshire RestaurantOur ancient Symonds Yat Inn has served local food and drink produce for well over one hundred years. Initially it would have been for local workers, building up a thirst and hunger on the river and small farmsteads.

Then, the railways brought Victorian tourists, who needed feeding after a days wandering around the Wye Valley, after hopping off the steam train which was a regular visitor to the Yat.

The Saracens Head Inn today, still caters for the hungry tourist and thirsty local, who, after a days exploring the vast woodland or boating on the river, rely on freshly made quality food, and well kept drinks on tap or in bottle.

Wye Valley sea foodWhere others have opted for the cheapest produce to maximise profit, we have strived to build up a regular and reliable list of local food and drink producers, meaning the food in our restaurant and bar is as fresh and tasty as possible.

We endeavour to source meat from animals which have been treated humanely, whilst trying our best to source free range produce, reared by people who care about their animals, sustainability and the environment.

Wye Valley RisottoOur chefs pride themselves on preparing dishes with a strong flavour of the Wye Valley, Gloucestershire, Welsh Borders and surrounding area.

Our team of talented chefs, cooks, waiting and bar staff all take pride in serving visitors to the Saracens Head Inn. They do so in the safe knowledge that they are serving customers some of the very best local produce in Britain… We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Herefordshire Pie 2The Saracens Head restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes, from Charcuterie Sharing Boards to Vegetarian Quiche, Breconshire 12oz Rib Eye Steak to Pan Seared Salmon, we have something for every palate:

Our ingredients are carefully selected and wherever possible are seasonal and locally produced. We are passionate about what we do and everything we serve has been prepared freshly for you.  – Head Chef, The Saracens Head Inn.

Recipes change from season-to-season, from our Lunch Menu, Dinner Menu and daily specials board. Sandwiches and filled organic baguettes are also served during lunchtimes.

Herefordshire dessertMeals can be enjoyed in our informal dining room, the lounge area, the bar or on the riverside terraces.

The flagstone-floored bar, with its scrubbed pine tables, has retained the feel of an authentic old English Inn. The bar is open all day everyday and offers a fine selection of classic and local real ales, ciders and quality wines, by the glass or bottle.

Here is a little something to get your taste buds tingling ready for your next visit to us here at The Saracens Head Inn. All images are from the companies own websites, we claim no ownership of any photo.

Food Suppliers to The Saracens Head Inn

Meats – F.E. Richards, Crickhowell.

F.E. Richards, Crickhowell

A high class butchers, and purveyors of the finest beef, lamb, pork, poultry, game, sausages & burgers and oven ready dishes just across the Welsh border. We source various produce from F.E. Richards, and as you can see, they provide us with some lovely fresh ingredients.

Rare breed pork and beef – Huntsham Farm (1 mile away from us).

Huntsham Farm Wye Valley

Huntsham Court Farm specialises in producing the finest meat from rare pedigree animals – Longhorn beef, Middle White pork and Ryeland lamb who all benefit from roaming around in their beautiful Herefordshire rural setting. Most people will pass this farm en route to the Saracens Head Inn, on the left hand side about half a mile past Huntsham Bridge, a beatiful serene location.

Welsh Venison Centre, near Brecon.

Welsh Venison Centre

The Welsh Venison Centre and Beacons Farm Shop is a family-run business based in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Established in 1985 by the Morgan family and now run by husband and wife Andrew and Elaine Morgan. As well as supplying high-quality fresh meat to the farm’s very well stocked Beacons Farm Shop, the farm now supplies award-winning beef, pork, venison and lamb to restaurants and hotels (some of them Michelin-starred) locally and nationwide.

Poultry – Madgetts Farm, near Chepstow.

Madgetts Farm

Madgett’s Farm specialise in producing Free Range poultry. Reared and processed on their farm, over looking the Wye Valley. They are fed a cereal diet and allowed to roam freely, grown to full maturity; they supply to high quality Restaurants, Butchers, Farm shops and farmers markets outlets through out the county, and appeared on Rick Steins Food Heroes, market kitchen, The Great British Menu to name but a few..

Dried Meats – Trealy Farm, Mitchel Troy, near Monmouth.

Trealy Farm

Trealy Farm Charcuterie are the UK’s leading artisan charcuterie producer, based in Monmouthshire. They blend traditional practices and innovative technology to make their products. The farm produce around 40 varieties of charcuterie meats from pigs, lamb, beef, wild boar, venison and duck, which they sell to renowned restaurants across the country and consumers.  Trealy are committed to using only Free Range, Traditional Breed animals with full and transparent traceability. Animal welfare is their highest priority and are uncompromising in the ethics of meat sourcing. Trealy work with their supplier farmers in equitable partnership, because they believe that supporting them fairly helps sustainable meat production and the survival of traditional breeds.

Deli supplies – Vin Sullivan, Blaenavon.

Vin Sullivan

The profile of Vin Sullivan’s product range has developed over many years and is an extension of its origins at the shop in Abergavenny’s High Street, which opened in 1960. Today Vin Sullivan satisfies local demand for fine fresh fish, exotic meats, farmhouse cheeses and speciality dry goods with a large game plant supplying most major supermarket chains in Blaenavon. Vin Sullivan were one of the first inland wholesalers to gain the ‘Seafish Processors Award’ and the first in the UK to hold all three Seafish Quality Awards at the same time.

Faggots – Le Gourmet, Monmouth.

Le Gourmet

Le Gourmet owner and Master Butcher, Duncan Wills has been providing fine foods for tables for almost 40 years. Based in the historic border town of Monmouth, in the heart of the beautiful Wye Valley. Le Gourmet sources and sells top quality produce. Meats are locally sourced and butchered on the premises.

Wye Valley Asparagus, near Ross-on-Wye.

Wye Valley Asparagus 4

Wye Valley Produce is grown by fourth-generation farmers, the Chinn family, in the Wye Valley, near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. The first Asparagus crop was planted in the Spring of 2003, and the Wye Valley brand has since expanded to include Rhubarb and Blueberries. The light, sandy soil and south-facing slopes of the meandering Wye Valley capture the earliest spring sunlight, and create a microclimate that is perfectly formed to produce some of the earliest, and the best, produce in the UK.  The Asparagus is hand-harvested and hydro-cooled down to 2° C within the hour. This ensures that it retains maximum freshness and flavour. Watch their video here.

Cream – Bartonsham Farm Dairy, Hereford.

Bartonsham Farm

The growth of Hereford city and the continuing demand for milk has seen the ongoing expansion of this local business which now spans three generations. Bartonsham Farm Dairies supplies quality milk throughout Herefordshire, South Shropshire, South Wales and parts of Worcestershire.  Bartonsham Farm Dairies supplies a comprehensive range of quality products to bottled milk buyers and semi-retailers, including caterers, schools, colleges, works canteens, small shops, local supermarkets and bakers.

May’s Eggs, Ledbury.

May's Eggs

May’s started their free range egg business on a family-owned farm near Ledbury, Herefordshire in 2004. The introduction of grading and packing facilities, means that the farm can offer customers eggs direct from the producer, guaranteeing traceability and low food miles. With British Egg Industry Council ‘Lion Code’ and RSPCA Freedom Food accreditations and by using high grade, non-GM feed, the quality of May’s Eggs is guaranteed – perfect for our Full English Breakfast, fried, scrambled or poached!

Brookes Ice Cream, Devauden, near Chepstow.

Brookes Ice Cream

Brookes dairy rests in the rural heart of the the Wye Valley. The family have been making ice cream on their farm for over two generations. They aim to produce an artisan ice cream sourcing natural ingredients to compliment the double cream and fresh milk from their pedigree Jersey cows. Brookes ice cream is perfect as a delicious dessert or as a tasty treat.  No artificial colouring or preservatives – just rich double cream and the best natural flavours blended to produce the unforgettable taste of home made ice cream. A favourite all year round!

Tyrells Crisps, Leominster, Herefordshire.

Tyrrells Crisps

Founded on July 10, 2002, Tyrrells make fine English crisps on their farm in the delightful Herefordshire countryside. Tyrrells use local potatoes, from local farmers, their favourites being Lady Rosetta and Lady Claire. The crisps are thick cut for more crunch with skins left on. Crisps are cooked by hand in small batches and they always leave the jackets on, too many tasty flavours to memorise, so we’ve written them on the board above the bar for good measure.

Drink Suppliers to The Saracens Head Inn

Herefordshire Beer and Cider

Westons Cider, Much Marcle. Founded in 1878, Westons Cider and Perry has been made at ‘The Bounds’ in the Herefordshire Village of Much Marcle for over 125 years. Westons sells more than 150 ciders and perrys, including both organic and low alcohol varieties with ‘Stowford Press’ being the most popular.

Wye Valley Brewery, Stoke Lacy. A friendly, family-run brewery that cares about real ales, real pubs and real people. Established by Peter Amor in 1985, the company moved to current premises in Stoke Lacy in 2002.  Wye Valley brew in a traditional way using only the finest quality raw materials – such as locally grown whole hop flowers – and are proud to be recognised as Herefordshire’s leading cask-ale brewery.  Customers include everyone from locals dropping into the brewery shop, and drinkers in pubs throughout the region, to people who buy the bottled ales online and a growing number of discerning drinkers in Europe, Scandinavia and beyond.

Bulmers Cider. The first drop of Bulmers cider was pressed by 20 year old H.P. ‘Percy’ Bulmer in 1887, using apples from the orchard at his father’s rectory in Hereford. Although now owned by Heineken, Bulmers remains in Hereford as one of the world’s largest and finest cider makers.

Severn Cider, Newnham, Gloucestershire. Traditional, Hand Crafted Ciders & Perry, the fruit is selected from local orchards producing traditional varieties that offer vintage quality of fruit. Severn Cider are committed to conserving and propagating old traditional varieties and have recently established ‘Box Kernel’ in their orchards. which to the best of their knowledge is peculiar to the village of Awre.

Ty Gwyn Bottled Cider, Pontrilas, Monmouthshire.

Ty Gwyn cider

Ty Gwyn Apples

Ty Gwyn are a multi award winning craft cider company founded in the Monnow Valley in Monmouthshire by cider apple grower and acclaimed fruit farmer James McConnel in 2007. Sold in many of the UK’s leading restaurants and gastropubs and in Waitrose, Ty Gwyn is a perfect choice for the Saracens Head Inn (we have visits from local musicians and staff of Rockfield Recording Studios in the Monnow Valley). The cider is sold in at least three Michelin starred restaurants with apples used being the classic varieties of British Cider – principally Dabinett and Vilberie, with Brown Snout and Michelin. Ty Gwyn cider is not made from concentrate, only the finest cider apples are carefully sourced from the best growers. It is naturally fermented for a minimum of six months.

Kingstone Brewery, Meadow Farm, Chepstow.

Kingstone Brewery

Kingstone Brewery take traditional recipes and use the best raw ingredients to give a naturally tasty and satisfying result. Each ale in the range of eight has its own character but they all share the same authenticity of process and flavour. The beer is unfiltered, uncompromised and unashamedly real. Kingstone Brewery headquarters nestle in the picturesque Wye Valley, just down the road from Tintern Abbey (where monks first began brewing in the 12th century).

Bespoke Brewery, Forest of Dean.

Bespoke Brewing Company

The Bespoke Brewing Co. is a traditional brewery producing high quality, award winning beer with a bespoke label design service. The beer is produced on the site of the old Wintles brewery in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, formerly a large independent Victorian brewery. Closed down in the early 1900’s Bespoke have now resurrected the traditional art of brewing on the same site. Using bespoke recipes, the real ale is hand crafted on the premises using only premium ingredients. Rigorous quality control and tasting ensures that the finished product offers a great taste every time.

Book your meal or stay with us today, we look forward to greeting you! www.saracensheadinn.co.uk/eat/

Chris, Pete, Paul and all at the Saracens Head Inn.

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Symonds Yat & Wye Valley Walks

Crossing the River Wye
Majesty of the River Wye

Symonds Yat is an ideal place for a relaxing walk, or an invigorating hike. There are endless miles of forest and tracks to explore, and if you add the nearby Forest of Dean, you could literally spend weeks navigating your way, from hamlet to parish, without encountering anything more than quiet woodland and ancient British wilderness.

The area of Symonds Yat lies within the borders of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Many people mistakenly think that Symonds Yat is in Wales, it isn’t, however it is very near the border of Monmouthshire and you can easily wander into Wales when exploring Symonds Yat without ever knowing.

Robert Symonds gave his name to Symonds Yat during the 17th-century. Symonds was a sheriff of Herefordshire and the word “yat” is an old word for a gate or pass. Today the area is a mixture of private land and woodland which is cared for mainly by the Forestry Commission.

Fallow deer, barn owls and peregrine falcons are often seen or heard, and very occasionally wild boar can be seen too. Badgers are common, though rarely seen, and stoats, weasels, foxes, woodmice, bank voles and even dormice are present. Many species of butterfly, hornets, bats and European cave spiders also make their home in the woods and caves.

Here are a few pointers when exploring Symonds Yat and the surrounding Wye Valley by foot:


Wye Valley Walk – Monmouth to Ross on Wye

The Wye Valley Walk is a 136 mile (218km) hike of startling contrasts from ravine gorge cloaked in woodland, through meadow and orchard, to rugged and remote uplands.

Biblins Campsite
Biblins Campsite

The walk begins many miles away up stream of Symonds Yat and follows the Wye through the battle scarred Anglo-Welsh borders to where it pours in rocky cascades from its mountain source.

If you are visiting for a few days and wish to complete a small part of this walk, you may want to consider the Monmouth to Ross section.

Starting in open fields this is an almost entirely level stretch of riverside walking following the meanders of the Wye and passing under the spectacular limestone cliffs and woodlands of the upper Wye gorge.

Hand Drawn Ferrie
Old Hand Ferrie, Wye Valley Walk

The walk passes through Symonds Yat with its riverside pubs, boat trips, rock climbers, cavers and canoeists.

Then, at just over half way to Ross, there’s an abrupt change of pace, the path climbing through steeply wooded hills and narrow valleys around Leys Hill and Howle Hill, before dropping into Ross from the heights of Chase Hill.

The opposite direction from Monmouth will take you to the beautiful surroundings of Tintern Abbey with plenty more exploring to do, such as the Devil’s Pulpit.

Distance: 17-18 miles (27-29km). High point: 196m (647ft) Chase Wood.

Goodrich Castle, Coppett Hill & Welsh Bicknor

For a really historic and interesting day out, this route takes in the impressive grandeur of Goodrich Castle and Coppett Hill. Parts of this route are also included in the Wye Valley Walk.

Goodrich Castle
Goodrich Castle

Primarily a Norman medieval castle, Goodrich Castle became the scene of one of the most desperate sieges during the English Civil War in the 1640s, which saw the rival factions of Parliament and the king vie for power across England. The Roaring Meg mortar used against the castle in March 1646 sits in the main courtyard next to a deep well.

There are various ghost tales many of which involve the White Lady who is said to have drowned with her lover before the final assault of the castle during the English Civil War.

The picturesque ruins of the castle inspired many artists’ work, including David Cox, who produced beautiful watercolours in 1815. It was also captured in poem by William Wordsworth when he met a little cottage girl in October 1793 and subsequently wrote the fascinating and mysterious poem ‘We Are Seven‘.

 

Sun through Coppett Hill Woods
Sun through Coppett Hill Woods

Coppett Hill is home to fallow deer, adders, many species of butterfly and stunning views. The top of the hill has been declared a Nature reserve.

At the foot of the hill (Welsh Bicknor) is a Norman style church which is no longer open, find the ancient grave stone of the boy who drowned- A reminder about the perils of the Wye. If you follow the river bank up towards Symonds Yat for half a mile or so, you will find the old iron girder rail bridge which now carries the Wye Valley Walk across the river. If you head inwards toward the hill you can find the disused rail tunnel (it is not advisable to wander inside).

The route is explained on The AA Website as Beside the River Wye and up Coppet Hill.

The Little Doward and Great Doward

Mooching around Symonds Yat West is a day or two in itself. The hamlets of the Little, and Great, Doward make up a substantial part of the Yat. The area is part of South Herefordshire and it sits on the Monmouthshire border.

Sunset from The Severn Sisters
Sunset from The Severn Sisters

The Great Doward consists of extensive stratified limestone mountains with large deposits of rich iron-ore. The Yat Gorge was mined for iron ore and remains of a smelting works are located down stream of the Symonds Yat Rapids.

The ironworks at New Weir date from the 1590s and closed in 1798. There is also a limekiln upstream of the Saracens which was used from 1700s onwards making lime by heating limestone to over 1000°C.  The lime was used in building for mortar, plaster and limewash; in a variety of industrial processes and in agriculture as a soil improver. This particular lime kiln was out of use by 1850.

Doward Woods
Doward Woods

To the west, the area is woody with wild elevations, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Little Doward hosts a British hill fort which seems to have been refortified in the post-Roman era. In Iron Age times the forts on the Great Doward and the Yat Rock provided secure, defensible settlements for the local residents.

Scattered throughout the large-scale Yew, Ash and Beech forests exist an extensive network or caves, most of which require professional caving guides. Some were mines, long since abandoned, and others such as King Arthur’s Cave are natural.

King Arthur’s Cave and the Wye Valley have been the site of intriguing archaeological digs. Bones from hyenas, sabre-toothed cats, woolf, reindeer, lion, brown bear, red deer, rhinoceros, irish elk, and a Mammoth have been found. Human inhabitation can be traced back to 12,000 years ago with findings of their tools and clothes. It is a designated a site of Special Scientific Interest.

A popular feature of Symonds Yat is the hand ferrie. These ferries have played an important role in local life for many centuries. In 1800 there were 25 hand ferries between Ross and Chepstow, today there are just two. The Saracens ferrie runs throughout the year.

Sunset over the Doward
Sunset over the Doward

The Biblins suspension bridge was built over the river by the Forestry Commission using local oak timbers in 1957. A very easy walk can be had from the Saracen’s Head downstream to the Biblins bridge and back the same side, or over the bridge, and back up to the Saracen’s hand ferrie, the later being a little bit rocky under foot.

The Seven Sisters Rocks are impressive Carboniferous limestone cliff pillars further downstream of the Biblins; near to a large disused quarry.  For the experienced hiker, there are walks which wend their way around the upper escarpments with some very precarious and potentially dangerous but rewarding vantage points (not recommended for children or anyone unsteady on their feet).

Yat Rock and Symonds Yat East

Symonds Yat Rock overlooks the Forest of Dean, Coppett Hill and Wye Valley. The immediate landscape is of the River Wye which winds its way through the gorge.

Towards the peregrines from Yat Rock
Peregrines Nesting, from Yat Rock

The rock is the perfect viewpoint to see the nesting peregrine falcons who set up home every year (roughly April to August).  Other birds such as buzzards, goshawks and hobbies are also regularly seen, it is occasionally possible to see migrant raptors such as ospreys and European honey buzzards.

From Symonds Yat Rock there are marked trails linking to the many meandering woodland and riverside walks. Some of these walks can be quite remote so prepare food, water and suitable clothing for the time of year. Phone reception can be very weak and often non existent but the woodland paths are tranquil with stunning scenery.

A hill fort was built here around 2,500 years ago. The site is now a scheduled ancient monument. Refreshments are provided by the 1950s built log cabin cafe. Contact 01594 834479 for more details and opening times.

Looking towards the Doward
Looking West, from Yat Rock

A scene from the movie Shadowlands was filmed at Symonds Yat Rock, and it was used as a location for some episodes of Series 5 of the BBC television drama Merlin. Another piece of movie trivia… Symonds Yat was used as a location for some of the shots filmed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.

There are several routes up to the Rock from the Saracen’s Head Inn.

There are demanding routes which offer steep and direct access, whereas the more gradual sloped trails take much longer and are further downstream. It’s advisable to take a good map and compass.

The Sculpture Trail

A few minutes drive from Symonds Yat is the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Established in 1986, this four mile long Sculpture Trail was one of the first to open in the UK. The Trail features sculptures created by artists to interpret the Forest environment and the history of this very unusual landscape.

Giant Chair Sculpture Trail
Giant Chair, Sculpture Trail

It provides a unique opportunity to walk through the woodlands and discover art along the way. Perfect for all ages and abilities, you don’t need to know about art to enjoy what you see.

The sculptures are installed within the woodland to encourage you to seek them out – the posts with blue rings will direct you – but if you want to make life easier for yourself, pick up a map at Connections at Beechenhurst.

Capability Brown would probably describe the artworks as ‘punctuation marks in the landscape’. Pause for thought and consider – what inspired the artists and what story does the sculpture tell? If you want to know more, visit www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk, where you will find information about all of the artists and the artworks.

The sculptures are commissioned by The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, a charitable organisation, working closely with the Forestry Commission. The Trust relies entirely on fundraising in order to commission the sculptures for the Trail. If you would like to contribute to future works, or towards maintenance of one of your favourite sculptures, please visit the website.

Other Useful Links

Easy Walks of The Wye Valley & Forest of Dean

Explore Symonds Yat Rock

Walks Around The Wye Valley

Goodrich and Symonds Yat – circular

Wye Valley – Head For Hill Forts

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Accommodation in The Wye Valley

Symonds Yat, Wye Valley
Symonds Yat, Wye Valley

Symonds Yat is a perfect location to explore Herefordshire and The Wye Valley.

Near to Ross on Wye, Monmouth and the Forest of Dean, this ancient wooded gorge is divided by the famous River Wye which peacefully passes through, providing some stunning scenery.

Symonds Yat is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), also a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and many people decide to use the area as a base to explore the surrounding countryside.

With this in mind, there are several high quality hotels, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, self catering cottages and campsites scattered around Symonds Yat East, Symonds Yat West and Whitchurch.

Bed and Breakfast at The Saracens Head Inn

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Room 10

A very popular choice in Symonds Yat East is our very own Saracens Head Inn.

With a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014, various food accolades and many returning guests, diners and drinkers we have made many friends since taking over in 1993.

We care about our customers and take time to ensure your visit is as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Room 10
Room 10

The location of the Inn is the main attraction, we have simply built on this and endeavoured to reinvest into the pub, restaurant and accommodation to enhance the overall experience of people visiting our little piece of Herefordshire.

From clean and comfy accommodation, to keeping the ancient hand drawn ferry in action, maintaining high levels of food in the kitchen, and of course great wines, ciders and real ales.

As a family run business we genuinely care about the area and the experience our guests have.

Our ten room, family-run Inn, offers fresh, bright and comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation in the heart of the Wye Valley.

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Room 11 (Lower Boathouse)

Every room is en-suite, eight of which overlook the river. All rooms have showers, some have showers over baths.

The rooms are fitted out to a high standard with a cottage feel but in a modern contemporary style. You can choose from twin rooms, double rooms and the Boathouse.

The Boathouse rooms are more spacious, one of which comes with its own small balcony- ideal for watching the world go by.

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Room 4

The bed and breakfast accommodation is only part of what we do here in the Wye Valley. Our bar serves some fantastic local ales (such as Wye Valley Brewery and Herefordshire ciders) and carefully selected wines too.

We take great pride over our little restaurant with some rewarding reviews and features nationwide.

Guests staying in our accommodation can enjoy full cooked breakfasts or a selection of fruits and cereals.

There is Free WiFi internet throughout the Inn and rooms come with TV, Tea & Coffee facilities- you’ll also be greeted with a smile and we are happy to offer advice on nearby attractions. More info on our Wye Valley accommodation.

Sorry, while we welcome families and animals to the bar and outside terraces, we cannot accommodate small children (under 7 years) and pets in the rooms.

 

Self Catering Holidays at Sterrett’s Holiday Lodge

Sterrett's Holiday Lodge
Sterrett’s Holiday Lodge

If you would like to stay in Symonds Yat West, and explore Herefordshire and the Royal Forest of Dean then why not consider renting a spacious self catering holiday lodge. The 3 bedroom self catering holiday accommodation has been constructed and fitted out to a high standard with TV, DVD, adequately fitted kitchen and modern bathroom facilities.

The self catering cabin features a large open plan lounge, dining area and kitchen, a hallway with two double bedrooms, one twin bedroom, a shower/bath/toilet and additional toilet with wash basin.

The holiday lodge nestles at the top of the campsite with attractive views across the caravan park, campsite and woodland views beyond. The accommodation can be rented out for couples or families. Prices and availability are available on request.

Follow the link here: Sterrett’s Holiday Lodge

For a great view of Symonds Yat, The Wye Valley and The Saracens Head Inn accommodation please take the time to watch our video below:

 

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Herefordshire Restaurant

Our New Menus & A Christmas Message

Season’s Greetings to you all!

Restaurant in HerefordshireWe have been making a few changes to the website recently such as embedding the new One Day In Symonds Yat video, and also our Facebook / Twitter accounts into the Saracens Head Inn home page: www.saracensheadinn.co.uk

Most importantly, all our latest food menus are now updated and can be printed off.

These will be updated regularly to reflect any changes in the menu from season to season. We will endeavour to keep these up-to-date as best as possible. If you’re unsure of something on the menu, it’s always best to give us a quick call to confirm any queries as availability of produce can occasionally change.

Here are our latest menus:

These delicious menus are all now linked to from our Saracen’s Herefordshire Restaurant page.

For those who prefer to use their mobile devices to access the internet, you will be pleased to know that these changes have also been made to the Mobile version of our website.

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR OPENING

Tuesday 23rd December: 11.00 – 11.00pm

Wednesday 24th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Christmas Day: Closed

Boxing Day: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Saturday 27th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Sunday 28th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Monday 29th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Tuesday 30th December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Wednesday 31st December: 11.00 – 4.00pm

New Years Day: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Friday 2nd January: 11.00 – 4.00pm

Back to normal hours from Saturday 3rd January, that’s all day – every day

(FOOD SERVED 12.00 – 2.30pm and 6.30 – 9.00pm)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Below are a few photos of Symonds Yat in deepest winter from 2010, and one from 1998, taken by one of our regulars… And with that we wish all our customers and friends a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you all soon. From all at the Saracens Head Inn.

Wye Valley under Snow
Snowy Wye Valley
Snow in The Yat
A frozen Doward Hill
Yat Rock and Forest of Dean under snow
Yat Rock and Forest of Dean under snow
Deer Tracks in Symonds Yat
Deer Tracks in deep forest near Biblins
Snowy cold River Wye 1998
Snowy cold River Wye – 1998

 

 

 

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Check out our new video!

Hello all, if you haven’t seen it already.. We have a fab new video which was recorded by Birmingham video production company One Day In My Life in association with Worcestershire based Grapevine Britain.

The video was filmed in Symonds Yat East, part of the Wye Valley here in Herefordshire. The video shows just how beautiful this part of the world can be and features The Saracens Head Inn. http://www.onedayinmylife.co.uk/

Filmed during one autumnal September day, 2014.

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herefordshire pub real ales

A Real Ale and Cider Pub in the Heart of Herefordshire

Herefordshire is predominantly an agricultural county, famous for the stunning rural beauty of the Wye Valley, Hereford cattle, fruit and cider production, and real ale.

There are plenty of lovely old inns and pubs in Herefordshire where you can enjoy all of the above, for instance The Kilpeck Inn, The Stagg (Titley), The Carpenters Arms (Walterstone) and The Barrels in the city of Hereford.

However, few can boast such stunning scenery as our very own Saracens Head Inn.

We have worked extremely hard over the past two decades to build a very loyal customer base, whilst improving our comfy bed and breakfast, restaurant and pub experience for new visitors to the Symonds Yat area. What we try to offer our guests can only really compliment the sheer beauty of this ancient gorge, which happens to be an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

With a 4.4 out of 5 rating on Google and a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, it’s nice to see our visitors appreciating a little of what we have on offer, whether it be an afternoon coffee, some delicious food, a night in our quaint accommodation or a relaxing pint of real ale overlooking the river, and whilst we’re talking about real ales.. a perfect opportunity to focus on what’s on at the bar this autumn/winter.

Real Ale, Cider and Lager at The Saracens Head Inn

Wye Valley HPA & Butty Bach Real Ale (Herefordshire)
Wye Valley HPA & Butty Bach Real Ale (Herefordshire)
Sharp's Doom Bar Real Ale & Pilsner Lager (Cornwall)
Sharp’s Doom Bar Real Ale & Pilsner Lager (Cornwall)
Saved By The Bell Bitter (Forest of Dean) & Llandogo Throw Ale (Tintern)
Saved By The Bell bitter (Forest of Dean) & Llandogo Throw Ale (Tintern)
Weston's Rosie's Pig Cloudy Cider & Stowford Press (Herefordshire)
Weston’s Rosie’s Pig Cloudy Cider & Stowford Press (Herefordshire)
Our selection of bottled local ciders such as Severn Cider, McCrindles, Wyld Wood, and Apple County
Our bottled local ciders include Severn Cider, McCrindles, Wyld Wood, and Apple County

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