Ross on Wye is an historic English market town on the banks of the River Wye and close to the border with Wales. It is to be found in the South of the county of Herefordshire, a few miles North of Gloucestershire and several miles East of Monmouthshire, Wales.
We (that is my wife Eira Wyn and myself, Bernard) visited the town on our journey to South Wales on a warm autumn day in 2006. The hotel we had chosen was advertised as being a "Country House Hotel" within its own parkland setting yet, intriguingly, within a short walk of the town centre.
I thought this sounded a bit far fetched, a bit of advertiser's licence, and we booked it online to test it out. We travelled into the town on the A49 road and the directions to the hotel were both accurate and straight forward, and, low and behold we found a Country House Hotel standing in its own parkland yet close to the centre of the town. Exactly as it said on the tin!
As it was late afternoon when we arrived we hastily booked in, deposited our cases in the bedroom, and set out to explore Ross on Wye. A few minutes walk brought us to the town square and the historic 'Market House' building, which was built in the mid 17th Century to replace an older building and is still in use as a market place to this day.
There are several streets leading off from the square and we chose a narrow street that led uphill and into the grounds of the beautiful St Mary's Parish Church. The 700-year-old church boasts a grand steeple and spire that stands proud overlooking the banks of the River Wye and the surrounding countryside. The mournful monument of the Plague Cross is second only to the Church Spire for making an impression on visitors to St Marys. The Plague Cross is a stone memorial to victims of the plague in St Marys Churchyard. The Black Death, as it became known, decimated much of England and Wales and struck the town of Ross-on-Wye in 1637. The 315 unfortunate victims were buried at night in unmarked pits nearby and the memorial was erected soon after.
On a brighter note the grounds of the church boast some beautiful mature trees, but they do tend to block the view when you are trying to take pictures of the church spire!
From the church-yard it is a natural progression to head down hill toward the River Wye passing en-route several interesting buildings. However the impressive looking Gazebo Tower and the mock gothic Town Walls were built relatively recently in 1833 and the tower was originally known as "Collins Tower."
It is only a short walk to the river and there are a number of Restaurants and Pubs along the river bank. The setting is beautiful but if you have children beware ! The dogs have got there before you.
I appreciate that Ross on Wye is a historic town but the town council should come out of the Dark Ages, and prevent dog owners from allowing their pets to foul what is probably the towns most attractive feature - the river bank and the Rope Walk. There are no signs warning dog owners of penalties and no "bag it and bin it" options for any pet owners who do decide to clean up after their pet. In fact, it is a disgrace and could well be described as the 21st century version of the plague in Ross on Wye.
Eira Wyn told me to calm down and we had a couple of shandies while sitting on the benches outside the riverside pub watching the setting sun. We walked back up the hill to the town centre. There is a pleasant little square at the top of the hill with an attractive Fish sculpture. However, I am afraid I could not get a decent picture as the light was fading fast. Eira Wyn was feeling peckish by now so we set out to look for somewhere to eat.
We passed the site of the Old Jail, but as all they could offer was porridge, we returned to - the Post Office. The town Post Office has been converted to a Wetherspoons Pub and restaurant. OK, Wetherspoons are a "chain" but the beer and the food is reasonably priced and can be quite tasty. However, most importantly, Wetherspoons do a fantastic job of preserving old buildings that would have been demolished by any other company.
As we wanted an early start in the morning we did not linger too long in Wetherspoons. Well in fact, we lingered long enough to enjoy a pleasant meal and for me to enjoy a few pints of beer and to admire Wetherspoons work. Its a tough job but somebody has to do it!
It did not take us long to walk back to the hotel and as it was still relatively early we decided to test the service in the hotel Bar. To be honest it was quiet in the hotel bar, but the staff were pleasant, the ambience posh, the beer as to be expected was expensive but there were enough interesting guests about for us to spend an hour or so "people watching" before we retired to bed.
Accommodation and Services
Tried and Tested : Review of the Chase Classic Hotel, Ross-on-Wye
Location : It is in a perfect location for visiting Ross on Wye. Close to the town centre and located within beautiful private grounds.
The Hotel : The entrance hall is strikingly beautiful rather like an English Lord's Country House with marble colonnades and a wide sweeping staircase. The booking-in process was smooth and the receptionist was pleasant and we were quickly on our way up stairs to the bedroom.
The Bedrooms : To be honest I expected a bigger bedroom as we were not paying for the basic bedroom. Eira Wyn however thought the room was perfectly fine but I don't think she realised the price we were paying. The en-suite bathroom was excellently fitted out and perfectly clean and the bedroom had all the facilities expected of this grade of hotel. We had a good night's sleep which is no more than we would expect as the hotel is in it's own grounds and thus set back from any traffic noise.
The Breakfast: Eira Wyn declared the breakfast to be "excellent,” with good service, a full English breakfast and a variety of fresh fruit and cereals in a very pleasant dining room.