It’s the birthplace of British tourism, perfectly preserved after falling into a slumber around 1976
What’s going for it? They don’t make book titles like this any more: Observations On The River Wye And Several Parts Of South Wales, Etc Relative Chiefly To Picturesque Beauty; Made In The Summer Of The Year 1770. And breathe. Blame William Gilpin for coach tours, for those irritating tourists who get in your way on the pavement and for the bank holiday queues at National Trust tea shops. He invented sightseeing. After his book was published, the craze began. And it began at Ross-on-Wye, gateway for countless pleasure boats, craning necks and sharp, middle-class elbows. The Wye remains a beauty, though it has competition from a gazillion other beauty spots these days, while Ross, also a beauty, has a strange, old-fashioned air. It’s the grandaddy of Ludlow, Burford and all those over-cute market towns lusted over in Country Life and, indeed, Let’s Move To… Tucked away off today’s main tourist trails, it seems to have fallen into a slumber around 1976. Which, ergo, makes it rather appealing.
The case against… Could do with new blood. It’s all a bit teashops and blue rinse (though I rather like both).
Well connected? A way away from a railway. Good job it’s at the tail end of the M50: 25 minutes’ drive to the M5. About the same north to Hereford. The A40/A449 south is pretty speedy to Monmouth (15 minutes) and the M4 in south Wales (40). Hourly buses to Hereford and Gloucester, in 40-45 minutes.
Schools Primaries: Ashfield Park is “good” and “rapidly improving”, Ofsted says; Brampton Abbotts CofE and St Joseph’s RC are both “satisfactory”. Secondaries: John Kyrle High is “outstanding”.
Hang out at… As so often in tourist spots, there’s a lot of mediocrity. But Pots And Pieces does a good cake.
Where to buy It’s all about the views: get one of the river or town, and the price goes up. It has lovely homes from medieval times through all periods, and not vastly expensive. The compact centre has affordable cottages and terraces. Plummest suburbans and Victorians are on the roads out of town: south on and off Walford Road, east towards Chase Wood, north along Ledbury Road.
Market values Large detacheds, £300,000-£700,000. Period town houses, £200,000-£450,000. Detacheds, £175,000-£300,000. Semis, £140,000-£280,000. Terraces, £110,000-£190,000.
Bargain of the week Four-bedroom, listed town house in the centre; in good nick, but needs converting from offices. £229,000, with Morris Bricknell.
From the streets
Shaneagh Moriarty “Organic grocer Field Fayre on the high street featured in Trashed with Jeremy Irons. Nepalese restaurant Yaks And Yetis does great dal bhat and momos. Downside: too many charity shops.”
Clare Bruce “Walks, cycling and canoeing. But midges, no train station and the town’s a bit sleepy.”
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