I love where I live… Llandogo!

Sharon Chilcott

Sharon Chilcott talks to Winifred Baker about why she and her husband, Les, rate Llandogo as a place to live and as a location for their landscape architecture business, which they named ‘Reckless Orchard’, after a local orchard.

Why did you choose to live in Llandogo? 

We moved to our home on the Llandogo riverbank 18 years ago, to have greater access to the countryside and because of the well-regarded local schools, which include an excellent primary school in the village. Llandogo is also very well placed for nearby cities, which is important for our business. 

What makes it special?  

Llandogo sits in a sheltered but not too enclosed valley. It faces one of the most beautiful rivers in Britain which meanders along the valley floor. 

There’s a great local shop run by the Brown family since the 1920’s and the Sloop Inn is a friendly local. The village has several community hubs including the church and an eco-build village hall as well as a small arts centre and an art gallery. 

The surrounding area is very special indeed. The River Wye is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Llandogo is set within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the highest possible designations for scenery and wildlife. 

If you’re an outdoor type who enjoys walking in ancient woodlands, seeing bluebell dells, spotting otters, deer, salmon, bats, orchids or just like having a stunning waterfall right on your doorstep then this is a great place to live! 

What would you change about it, assuming you could!? 

It’s rather sad we don’t have any allotments but there is very little I would change. 

Describe the personality of your village… 

Creative and resourceful! Examples include getting superfast broadband connected, restoring the Memorial Green and establishing a publishing company. 

What goes on in the local pub? 

You might catch a darts match between the ladies’ teams in the Sloop. There’s a log fire in winter and a garden for summer. Home cooked food is on the menu. 

Where do you go for a spot of culture? 

To the Wye Valley Arts Centre for a sculpture workshop or to a concert in the village hall, perhaps to hear some of our local musicians, like the talented Paris Jazz Café, or even a visiting international artist.. 

Where would you book up for a celebratory meal? 

The Stonemill near Monmouth, for a delicious, well-priced meal in a beautiful location. 

Where would you go for a casual evening out? 

The Boat Inn at Redbrook or, if it’s the first Saturday in the month, Kingstone Brewery in Tintern for their amazing beer and pizza evenings in a magical setting. 

What do you do locally to “blow the cobwebs away”? 

I walk out of my front door and along the riverbank. You could never get tired of this walk or the views. The river has a micro climate and can have beautiful mists. It’s tidal, so changes with every tide. At mid-point it is very still and languid – other times fast and furious. In summer a shingle beach appears. Canoeists float by. Swans, ducks and cormorants visit and we’ve watched a seal eating a salmon as he drifts past…. 

What leisure pursuits do you enjoy locally? 

I belong to the Tintern Philosophy Circle and enjoy creative writing workshops.

Where do you shop for day-to-day groceries? 

Lidl in Monmouth – for everything from coleslaw to canoes! We’re regulars in Roger Brown’s Londis shop and Brockweir has an award-winning, community-run shop. 

What’s the social life like in your village? 

Friendly and welcoming. Events and groups advertise in the shop and are promoted through the village hall. Enquire when you’re collecting your papers! 

What’s the most exciting initiative that’s happened in your area? 

The bi-annual Wye Valley River Festival has been a fantastic initiative. It’s drawn different groups in the village together while highlighting the importance of the riverside. It’s been very good for tourism, too, by helping put Llandogo on the map. 

What’s the most fun you have had at a local event? 

All three of the River Festivals have been fabulous events in Llandogo. Watching Chris Bullzini cross the River Wye on a high wire was a memorable sight for me. A close second was watching local musician Justin Nicholls lead a procession of singing schoolchildren down to the riverbank to open one of the festivals! 

How would you advise someone new into the area to get to know the locals? 

Go for walks and chat to people as you’re out and about. Support the school or the Llandogo Early Years playgroup. Shop locally. Visit the pub. There are two church groups. Attend events and join clubs. Offer to help the village hall as a volunteer – it would be much appreciated. Or maybe start something yourself? 

In what ways are you involved in your local community? 

I’ve been involved in helping the village hall, researching the Millennium Book and helping with the River Festival. Reckless Orchard helped with the Llandogo Community Plan. 

If friends were staying with you for a week, where would you take them? 

To Tintern Abbey, then the Wye Valley Sculpture Garden. I’d take them to visit the waterfall in Llandogo known as Cleddon Shoots and for a canoe ride down the river to our front door – starting from Monmouth with a slight detour at The Boat! 

Tell me one fascinating fact about your village that you don’t think is generally widely known. 

Baden Powell spent several of his childhood holidays here staying in the house which is now the Priory Nursing Home. He once travelled here, with his older brother who was a sailor, in a collapsible canoe, camping on the way. These experiences formed his great love of the outdoors shaping his ideas for the scouting movement. 

Facts and Figures

Llandogo is a pretty, scattered village on the west bank of the River Wye, with many of its houses and cottages dotted along a steep hillside overlooking the river. A designated Conservation Area, the village is dissected by the A466 Chepstow to Monmouth road, which divides the hillside settlement from the houses alongside the river. Surrounded by woodland and captivating views, Llandogo is a great location for keen walkers, with footpaths leading along the riverside and zig-zagging alongside the nearby Cleddon Shoots waterfall.

The Wye Valley Walk leads above the village and the Offa’s Dyke path is just across the river. Llandogo has early medieval origins and its historic core is marked by the Gothic revival style church of St Oudoceus. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, Llandogo was an important river port and its pub, The Sloop Inn, owes its name to this. Brown’s Stores has been the village’s only general store since the 1920s. Llandogo also has a village primary school and its Millenium Hall is a venue for film nights, bingo, badminton and more and is available for hire for weddings and parties.

Photo Credits

Photos: Les Baker

Photo of highwire act: Wye Valley AONB