A NEW book which celebrates the history and landscape of the Wye Valley has been published by local publishers Lightmoor Press, in conjunction with the Wye Valley Area of Oustanding Beauty (AONB) office: 'Overlooking the Wye' was launched at an event at Chepstow racecourse last month.

The history of books about the Wye goes back to the time of the searchers for the 'Picturesque', as ruled over by the arch-critic of the landscape, Reverend William Gilpin, who wrote his book 'Observations on the River Wye' in 1793 and thereafter started a craze for people in Society to undertake their own tours of the area, becoming amongst the first ever 'tour-ists'. Gilpin, his book and the impact that it had, are well explained in 'Overlooking the Wye', which was researched and written by Monmouth-based author Ruth Waycott. Other sections of the lavishly illustrated book follow the course of the original Wye tour, starting with a chapter on Ross on Wye, and continuing with Wilton, Goodrich, Lydbrook, Symomnds Yat, The Dowards, Monmouth, Kymin, Redbrook, Penallt and the riverside villages down to Chepstow, with extended coverage of Tintern.

Along the way, the author has brought up some fascinating insights into life on the Wye in days gone by, including the making and use of the extraordinary little water craft called coracles, or the much larger ships called trows, which traded and hauled goods throughout the length of the river.

Brockweir, the author reveals, has had a somewhat chequered history - being at one time described as "A city of refuge for persons of desperate character." (Although current residents report some reforms.)

The 76 page full colour book will be available from local bookshops, Tourist Information centres, museums, visitor centres, direct from the publishers Black Dwarf Lightmoor Publications, Ltd, (http://www.lightmoor">www.lightmoor.

co.uk), or from the Wye Valley AONB offices (http://www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk">www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk), tel: 01600 713977. It is priced at £7.50.

Ruth Waycott, author of 'Overlooking the Wye' is also set to create a companion volume to 'Overlooking the Wye' – on the Forest of Dean. Publisher Neil Parkhouse of Black Dwarf Lightmoor Press Ltd said that the new companion book on the Forest will offer a similar format, but did not even have a working title yet.

•Another book currently in preparation by Lightmoor Press will be a must-have for railway enthusiasts in the area. 'West Gloucestershire and Wye Valley Lines in Colour' is to be a huge 256 page full colour book, which is illustrated with over 450 colour photographs, all of which have been painstakingly collected over many years by Neil Parkhouse, and which include some "very rare, and very special photographs from the 1930s".

The book is to be published in the autumn, after Neil travels out to Singapore to oversee the mammoth job of creating a colour book with so many photographs.

A new separate book which will cover the Forest of Dean railway lines, in archive colour photographs, is also planned.