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Welsh Bicknor YHA, nr Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
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Welsh Bicknor YHA, nr Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

The back of beyond. There's nothing quite like being there, but it's an experience few campsites in England can actually guarantee. That's what makes the journey to Welsh Bicknor's hostel so satisfying. Launch yourself up a steep hill from Goodrich Castle and you'll find the road eventually peters out into a treelined lane plunging down the other side into a huge loop of the River Wye.

At its very end there is, at last, a pool of sunlight illuminating a patch of the hostel - a vast Victorian former rectory.

Set in 25 acres of woods and pasture, the hostel's campsite is a large field on the other side of a decorously decaying deconsecrated church, and enjoys views of the Forest of Dean. Hidden below the line of trees and bushes that gird the site, the River Wye slinks its way to the hauntingly beautiful bend at SymondsYat, a couple of miles away. There's a stone jetty at one corner of the field giving access to the river, making it perfect for a paddle-to-your-camp trip. But if you're more the walking-boots-and-jaunty-whistle kind, the Wye Valley Walk runs through the field on its way to all manner of adventures (and Chepstow).

Welsh Bicknor YHA, nr Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

COOL FACTOR Just paddle up and pitch.

WHO'S IN? Everyone (and dogs), apart from caravans.

ON SITE Maximum of 30 people. No hook-ups. It's a 2-minute walk to the facilities - 2 loos (1W, 1M), 3 showers (all unisex), and a fully equipped kitchen shared with hostellers. The red-brick hostel is closed 10am-5pm, but tents can be pitched at any time. An onsite shop sells basic bits (bread, milk, toothpaste). No campfires.

OFF SITE Lovely Goodrich Castle is at the bottom of the hill (see www.english-heritage.org.uk). Canoes can be hired at Ross-on-Wye (01600 890883; www.thecanoehire.co.uk).

FOOD AND DRINK There are 2 very good pubs over the Wye, just across the old railway bridge: the Courtfield Arms (01594 860207) and the Forge Hammer (01594 860310), which doubles up as an Indian restaurant.

GETTING THERE Take the A40 then B4229 to Goodrich village, then the road that crosses eastwards above the B4229, following it up the hill to the hostel, at the very end.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Two buses run between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye: no. 34 stops at Goodrich Castle, and no. 35 stops near the railway bridge.

OPEN April-October.

THE DAMAGE £6-£9 per person & £3 non-YHA members.

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