It is 50 years ago that the Wye Valley was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The picture here is an old postcard showing Chepstow, which is the gateway to the Wye Valley.

In the foreground a double decker bus is seen travelling over the historic Wye Bridge, which at the time was the only route into the walled town from England. All traffic would have had to pass through the historic arch at the top of the High Street to get in and out of the town.

So, why was the Wye Valley chosen to be an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1971?

According to the move was made to protect the special features which make the area one of the finest lowland landscapes in Britain.

There are 27 Special Qualities including dramatic limestone gorges, native woodlands, impressive geology, a rich history of hillforts, castles and Cistercian abbey, and valuable wildlife (which includes 25 per cent of Britain’s population of lesser horseshoe bats).

The area is steeped in history - it is home to the first package tours, when tourists came to marvel at the beautiful scenery at a time when they couldn’t undertake the traditional grand tours of Europe.

And anyone who visits, which is currently not allowed due to pandemic restrictions, can’t fail to be struck by the changing scenery.

As part of the celebrations of the Wye Valley AONB’s 50th anniversary Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB manager, will be giving an illustrated talk on the area via Zoom on Wednesday, February 24, at 7pm, which will be followed by a Q&A session. For more details and to register via Eventbrite go to