Sitting in the bar of the Royal Hotel overlooking one of the Wye’s circuitous meanders, munching on fish and chips and generally wiling away time is, it turns out, an extremely pleasant way to slow down a Saturday afternoon. Typically for an English summer’s day, the fluffy clouds of lunchtime turned into a damp afternoon in Ross; later on, a plucky country music festival on the grass below will be entirely flooded by a massive thunderstorm – I suppose par for the course when you’re this close to Wales.
Ross considers itself a home of the British tourist trade – the first guided boat tours took in the Wye from Ross, the first tourist guide was published in 1782 about the river. It’s no wonder, really: situated on the edge of both the Forest of Dean and the Herefordshire countryside, Ross is a stone’s throw from the Malverns, the Black Mountains, the Bristol Channel or the cathedral cities of the West Country. And Ross itself is a desperately quaint little market town with pride in itself and its environs. Helpfully, it’s bursting with charity shops, making even a rainy stop-over worthwhile.
The town centres on its stilted Market House at the top of Broad Street. From there you can proceed uphill along the High Street towards St Mary’s church, the Royal Hotel or the Phoenix Theatre, past an array of locally run, independent shops. Particularly interesting looking were Waterfall Antiques, and Truffles deli, stocking an impressive 90 local ciders, arranged by distance from the shop. The opposite direction is Gloucester Road and here you’ll find St Michael’s and Acorns hospice shops. The former provided me with a speculative purchase of a Henning Mankell novel, introducing me to Inspector Wallander, off of the telly. Let me go on the record now to state that it was rubbish.
It’s the steep main drag, Broad Street, that houses most of the charity shops. You’ll find British Heart Foundation, Barnardos, Oxfam, Sue Ryder Care, Cancer Research and AgeUK lining the street and if you can’t find a bargain in there, you may well be blind. Ross is a tiny town that punches well for charity shops. It’s certainly one of the most agreeable visits you’ll find location-wise and you’d be daft not to have at least a little look.
Find: Ross-on-Wye @ Google Maps
Get there: Ross is a little bit like hard work if you haven’t got a car: you’ll need the train to Ledbury, though there’s plenty of buses from there.
Consume with: we had lunch at the Royal Hotel – perfectly serviceable, great location, decent price.
Visit: like history? Try Goodrich castle. Like nature? Try Symond’s Yat. Like walking? Try the Forest of Dean. And so on.
Overall rating: four Fat Face shirts.