This weekend we took Skippy to Hereford in the Wye Vally. It was quite a trek, about 140 miles, but we were very lucky with traffic and Skippy behaved impeccably.
We arrived just after lunch on Friday and settled in to wait for our good friends Andrew and Karen to join us. The staff at the Lucksall Caravan and Camping site were very pleasant and helpful, they even came out to to the van when we arrived and did a very smooth ‘drive through’ check in. Obviously, being a Bank Holiday weekend, the site was fairly busy but luckily we were in a nice secluded area and not the ‘Chav’ area with all the screaming kids and pit bulls.
We had really heavy rain that evening which eventually drove us all back into our vans by 11pm, which was probably for the best as we had to be up and on the water by 9 the next morning.
The river Wye, one of the longest rivers in Britain, rises in the Cambrian mountains and flows for about 150 miles before emptying into the Severn estuary by Chepstow. There are some very challenging sections of rapids on the river but the stretch we were on between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye is very gentle and forgiving, just as well as none of us really fancied a swim.
We gently paddled downstream through absolutely beautiful surroundings complete with lots of soaring buzzards, some being mobbed by gangs of crows, Mandarin ducks, lots of swans and on one stretch of the river, the vibrant blue of a tiny kingfisher. We also saw and heard big Atlantic Salmon jumping quite close to the canoe. At times we all shipped our paddles and just sat quietly drifting along with the river to enjoy the silence and appreciate our surroundings.
We all shared an aluminium Canadian canoe so I carefully chose the rear seat which meant I could relax properly without Karen and Andrew noticing.
I tried my best to keep them both out of trouble but despite my best efforts they still managed to run us aground on a shingle bank in the middle of the river. Luckily we had Andrew with us who heroically brushed aside all thoughts for his own safety and towed us back into deeper water. Top Tip, always take an Andrew with you when you go out in a canoe.
We cast off just after nine and made good time to our planned lunch stop about 9 miles away at Hoarwithy where we chatted with the locals…
…and admired the Italian influenced church of St Catherine’s which has featured in several films including Michael Winners production of ‘The Sentinal’.
But the main focus of the stop was a beer or two and a cracking lunch prepared by a Michelin starred chef who, judging by his generous girth, enjoyed his own cooking.
It was here, the next day, that we met another member of ‘The Late Bay’ campervan club for the first time.
suitably refreshed we set off for the last 10 miles or so to Ross-on-Wye and practiced our Hawaii war canoe technique and managed some very respectable bow waves and even managed to paddle in a straight line for over 10 seconds at a time. I attribute this speed and efficiency to Karen’s burning desire to ‘Get to the Pub’.
This is all of us after our lunch stop, we hadn’t had that much to drink so I think the blur is caused by water on the lens rather than drunken focusing.
All in all a fantastic weekend, thanks to Karen and Andrew for organising it and also for all the lovely food.