The Ancient Hand Pull Ferries of Symonds Yat have been a prominent feature as long as living memory recollects, and a wealth of documented history can prove for a lot longer.
Historians believe the Romans used hand pull ferries to link the Iron Age hillforts of Symonds Yat and Little Doward (a worthwhile excursion to see).
There used to be around 25 ferries between Ross-on-Wye and Chepstow during the early 1800’s, when industry was booming and the Wye was a barrier to be negotiated, but now there are only 2 in operation. The ferrie at the Saracens Head Inn can run longer throughout the year due to the deeper water where it is situated, and we keep ours running more for nostalgic purposes.
It is difficult to date when a ferrie first started at the location of Ye Old Ferrie Inn, but it is thought the ferrie came first which means it was pre 1473 as that is the earliest date an Inn can be placed here. The early documentation of ferries from our location describes it as a livestock ferrie so it would have been much longer, wider and flatter than the one you would see today.
Today’s ferrie is affectionately named ‘The Frog’ in memory of a popular local lady, and first landed on the water 12th April 2021. This shining beacon of river transport was created by a local welder after the floods in October 2019 and the Great Flood of February 2020 damaged the previous ferrie beyond any repair. ‘The Frog’ has been built shorter than previous ferries to avoid the rocks in the river at low water and has higher sides for the comfort of passengers.
‘The Frog’ would definitely be described as a fair weather ferrie as due to safety reasons we will not run ‘The Frog’ on windy and/or rainy days, in heightened waters, or thunderstorms. We try to make the call in the morning as we want to avoid disappointing people that were told it wouldn’t be running and then they see it running, or told it would be running and has been called off when they arrive. Please be aware that we can only do as the weather allows so if there is any change this is not the fault of the ferrieperson, and we will not go against our safety procedures.