CSCC Reports 2005: Wye Trip 13-14 August 2005

People who went: Alex, Luis, Diane, Ian Nisbett, Beth, Dan Halpern, Caroline, Chris, Joanna, Martin, Julia S , Dan Jones, Gavin, and Dan Jones's friend Ian Scott.

Most of the group gathered on Friday evening at the toll-bridge campsite at Whitney-on-Wye in time for an evening meal at the nearby Boat Inn. On Saturday morning Black Mountain Activities dropped off  6 Canadian Canoes, 14 paddles and various other bits of equipment at the toll-bridge and cars were shuttled to Preston-on-Wye. Just as we got on the water the forecast rain, which was to persist for most of the day, began to fall.

The river level was low and we ran into many shallows where the main flow seemed invariably to set underneath overhanging branches, with predictable and sometimes hilarious results. We occasionally encountered miniature rapids, some even noticeable enough to prompt people to shout " Wheeeee!" as they went down. Sand martins swooped over the river, their nesting holes clearly visible in the sheer sandy banks. Diane and Ian spotted a swimming sheep and went to see if it needed to be rescued but it managed to get out by itself. The rain did not let up for the lunch stop. It did stop for a time in the afternoon but as soon as people had dried off a bit, down it came again.  We eventually came to Monnington Falls and dutifully got out to inspect it for obstructions as recommended by the "Canoeists' Guide to the River Wye". But the rapid failed to deliver the exciting finale to the first day that some of the group had anticipated. Someone summed it up in three eloquent words: "Was that it?". We soon arrived, tired and wet but not cold and on the whole surprisingly cheerful, at the campsite at Preston-on-Wye. The rain had at last stopped as we hauled the boats up the steep muddy bank and began to set up camp. In the evening we walked to the Yew Tree pub where, by prior arrangement with the landlord, we had an excellent and inexpensive meal. The beer and cider were also excellent.

On Sunday we awoke to fine weather and a slight breeze. Cars were shuttled to Hereford and we set off down the river. The almost continuous rainfall of the previous day had had no discernible effect on the level of the river or its rate of flow. We stopped early for lunch, not being sure of finding suitable landing places further downstream although we need not have worried.  At one point Chris and Joanna spotted a peregrine falcon stooping on a pigeon which effected a lucky escape into the tree canopy. The fine weather and shorter distance to paddle made the second day easier and more relaxed and, with fewer meanders on this section, it was not long before the cathedral and bridges of Hereford came into view at the end of a long straight reach. We got the boats out below the old stone bridge in Hereford and found ourselves in a pleasant grassy park with an ice-cream van parked nearby.

Whitney-on-Wye to Preston-on-Wye was about 14 miles and Preston-on-Wye to Hereford about 10 miles.

Phone numbers:
Whitney-on-Wye toll-bridge (basic campsite and launching) 01497 831669
Boat Inn, Whitney-on-Wye (food, basic camping and launching) 01497 831223
New Court Farm (basic campsite), Preston-on-Wye 01981 500349
Yew Tree pub, Preston-on-Wye 01981 500359
Black Mountain Activities 01497 847897

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All images © CSCC Chris Stephens, Alex Skinner, Luis Trevino