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Thread: Why go to the Wye when you have the Wey? This is Wye!

  1. #1
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    Default Why go to the Wye when you have the Wey? This is Wye!

    The weekend before last was a long awaited return to the River Wye. Stewart had organised a nice weekend based around Byecross Farm, intending to do a couple of single day paddles from there, rather than bothering to carry gear around and setting up and down each night in cold/wet/windy weather.

    Unfortunately, Byecross wasn't actually open, they're now closing for much of the winter to let the ground recover and Sharon admitted, to let them recover! A little bit of re-arranging and we were booked into the Hollybush Inn campsite between Glasbury and Hay.

    I arrived after wearing myself out going up and down mountain bike trails in the valleys, to find Dave, Martin, Pete and Stewart already set up. We were camping on the grass up near the toilet block, rather than in the woods, to take advantage of the "hard" (slightly mushy) standing for Dave's Snoozebox and Lyn's trailer. There was some sort of story to be told about Dave's adventures in the woods with a car, trailer and a tractor tow, but it would be unfair to mention it here.

    A few hours later, some of which we spent around the firepit, and Lyn had also joined us. We hastily position her kitchen trailer thingy, did the minimum of set up, and jumped in a couple of cars to head for the lights of Hay and the superb, if busy, curries of the Red Indigo, and a pint or two. By the time we returned, the Hollybush Inn was closed up, despite it being well before closing time. We had a suspicion that they'd had virtually no customers that night...


    Anyway, on to the important bit. After a long breakfast while Andy arrived, a shuttle run and associated faffing, we were on the water at the crack of lunchtime, at the old Whitney on Wye toll bridge (very friendly folk there who let us park up and launch for free - they charge a modest fee in summer. Some of us therefore bought a sneaky coffee off them, don't tell the shuttle crew). The plan was a simple paddle down to Byecross, a distance of about 13 miles, with 4 hours of daylight remaining.

    Fortunately the river was just dropping nicely from a high level, so there was good flow, but not too much of it. Whilst the shuttle was run, a few of us gathered below and warmed up by playing in the flow around the bridge.








    Stewart and Pete were both trying out their Bell Yellowstone Solo canoes, first time on any sort of moving water for each of their new toys. Lyn was in her little kayak, Andy in his Pal, Dave in the Apache, Martin in his Venture Prospector and me in the Bell Prospector.









    We were quickly passing the Boat Inn, and heading off onto this lovely section of the river. Its arguably the most remote feeling part, as it passes through no villages and meanders well away from the main roads.












    The day was fine, if cold, and the winds were modest and mostly behind us. As good conditions as you can expect in November.









    Conscious of the short day, I was keeping a close eye on progress, but it soon became clear that the flow was plenty strong enough for us to have more than enough daylight, as we were averaging 5mph without trying. Thank goodness, I was worried we'd have to miss lunch!


    The few properties you do pass are often enough to make you jealous of the owners.












    Thanks to our decent progress, in an hour and a half we were at Turner's Boat, roughly halfway, and therefore lunch was declared.









    The water was high enough to make the island small and beachless, meaning the facilities available were just a viewpoint at the furthest point, which some of us visited





    Andy went into training for some reason. He said it was to get warm.






    The temperature stopped us from dallying too long, but there was still enough time to pig ourselves satisfactorily. As the sun lowered, the light was becoming lovely as we set off once again.















    We were meandering across the wide valley, heading towards the hillside where it swings down to Bredwardine. The Wye takes a huge loop here, giving us views in all directions, and the odd brief battle with wind when we swung fully westward.












    The last bit down to Bredwardine is the fastest flow of the day, and definitely feels slightly downhill. Just a little wavetrain kept us happy at the top, but soon we were passing under the old red brick bridge.









    The river loops back north here, in a looooong bend that is normally sheltered but slow moving. Today there was still enough flow for it not to feel a drag.









    At the end of the long, left-hand bend, the river swings right and cuts underneath Brobury Scar. This is my favourite bit of the day. The tree is still hanging in there...



















    All day we'd had various birds circling overhead; buzzards, kites and heron's with the odd darting kingfisher or ten. Here there were some smaller shaped raptors, three of them, below a circling buzzard. I think they were peregrines, possibly juveniles.









    As we headed down towards Moccas Court, the flow slowed down again, leaving us with the final mile to Byecross. For once, the wind was behind us here! Another kits came across, low, and lit by the golden light of the approaching sunset.















    The pool above Monnington Falls appeared, and the landing on the right meant we'd arrived. Man/woman power was employed to haul all our kit and boats up onto the carpark.


    Pete inflated his hands.






    It was a little strange seeing the empty campsite. I wandered over to chat to Sharon, offering to pay for the parking (as is normal) but she refused payment as she hadn't got round to opening the house and I only had a twenty pound note. Shuttle time, once again, after a very pleasant paddle.


    That evening, some went for a takeaway, some of us cooked in the warmth of Dave's Snoozebox's canvas extension. We then repaired to the pub. As it happened, we stumbled across the leaving do for the owner, Barbara, and her son. There was a band on, free snack buffet, and some slightly odd beers. Very much in keeping with the eccentric nature of the place. We had a good evening...

    ...and should have gone to bed straight after leaving the pub...but some of us never learn and there may have been some Laphroaig drunk into the early hours.


    (Continued...)
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  2. #2
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    Default Sunday - Glasbury to Whitney

    In the morning (technically, but only just), after recovery 4 of us headed just upstream to Glasbury, the others having to leave/rest injuries/faffwithtentedestablishemts/gotocafes etc.


    Stewart, Lyn, Andy and myself sorted out a shuttle, then got ourselves afloat by Glasbury bridge. Observant types will have noticed we got these two day trips the "wrong way round", but as this was shorter it made sense to do it on Sunday to allow more time to get home afterwards.






    The hire boats were all roosted for the winter season.






    I like this section of the Wye too, as the river meanders over gravel beds, whilst the hills of the Black Mountains dominate the horizon. Today, they were particularly sombre looking, with snow covered flanks and glowering clouds.









    The flow was similar to the day before, enough not to have to paddle too hard, but not enough to be a problem.









    There are a few obstacles to watch out for, where trees have caught up on the outsides of bends, and a few more riffles than the day before, but the paddling is still relaxing.









    All the geese in the world live here.








    To continue the bird theme from yesterday, a small flock of goosanders didn't seem pleased to see us.









    As on so much of the Wye above Hereford, many of the banks were steep and sandy, studded with the holes of long-departed sand martins.









    A big white heron went past. Wait a minute, that's no heron, and its too big to be a Little Egret. That'll make it a Great White Egret, which I've not seen round here before.






    We were now approaching Hay-on-Wye. Just above town there's a little natural weir. Today this was all but invisible, but there was a nice surf wave that I played on for a minute or two. Shortly after, and Hay bridge came into view.









    This seemed a good spot for lunch, so we stopped and did just that. The sun came out and the day became lovely as we put back on afterwards.






    There were no rocks to dodge below the bridge today, and the flow pushed us along speedily as we left Hay beyond.












    The river zig-zags across the valley for the last few miles. At each right-hand bend it gets close to the main road, so feels less remote, but its still lovely.









    All too soon, it seemed, we were approaching the rickety old bridge once again, and the end of our trip.






    I volunteered to wait by the canoes as the shuttle was run, and, after being briefly dumped on by a sleety shower, had the joy of the last light hitting the wooden spans of the ancient crossing. A fitting end to a lovely weekend, thanks to Stewart for organising and everybody else for their excellent, relaxed, company.


    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  3. #3
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    Looks like a nice trip. Many thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
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    Looks like a lovely couple of days Mal. Great pics as always.

  5. #5
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    Looks lovely, if a little chilly
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  6. #6

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    Good trip, Mal, and good pictures (as usual). My 'not waterproof' camera was scheduled to join me on the Spey, and at the last minute I decided to leave it in the car on the basis that it would be too cold/wet/dark to take it out of the box - and I didn't once think 'if I'd brought it I'd use it now!'

  7. #7
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    Thanks to all for a cracking weekend.
    Great pictures Mal.
    So we beat on,boats against the current,bourne back ceaselessly into the past.

  8. #8

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    Nice trip, great report and photos.

    I was at Hay bridge earlier this year


  9. #9
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    Looks like you may have brought the wrong toy for the river though..
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Looks like you may have brought the wrong toy for the river though..
    Perhaps, but it will cope with water up to about ball deep.

  11. #11
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    Glaisbury to the Boat Inn is my fave stretch of the Wye, its been a long time since I have seen it that high

    Nice one Mal.
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  12. #12
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    Thanks all


    For reference, the Gauges were as follows:


    Glasbury 1.3m

    Hay 0.9m

    Bredwardine 1.6m
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  13. #13
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    Well done for capturing that Great White Egret. The RSPB website ( http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wil...eatwhiteegret/ ) says that the overwintering population in the UK is only 35 individuals!
    Andrew (R.R.R.)

    ' Pas de leur
    Rhône que nous. '

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by River Rother Rover View Post
    Well done for capturing that Great White Egret. The RSPB website ( http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wil...eatwhiteegret/ ) says that the overwintering population in the UK is only 35 individuals!
    I knew they were pretty rare, but hadn't realised they were THAT uncommon. Think I saw one in Chichester Harbour once, but it was hard to tell the size and it could simply have been a little egret. (These cows are small, those cows out there are far away, Dougal)

    Pleased to catch it. Also shows how good the DSLR's autofocus is in sport mode for this sort of thing. It supposedly manages to pick out the object you want whilst panning, and it did so, through trees.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  15. #15
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    I could not work out what it was at first. It was back a bit from the river behind some shrubbery.
    Then as Andy and I got nearer it put it's head up and I thought that's to big for an egret. I was still trying to get my camera into action when it took off. Luckily Mals camera reflexes and bird training skills came into play.
    I am still going with the blonde heron tho. Lol
    So we beat on,boats against the current,bourne back ceaselessly into the past.

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