Archive for the ‘biblins’ Tag

Back with a Splash   14 comments

The enforced break is over and I’m back in action. Knee op went well and after a couple of weeks R&R I’m starting to head outdoors once more. A bike ride around the Forest of Dean and a short walk with TJS on a gloomy Friday evening proved I’m fit and able.

Time for some outdoor fun but there is more to life than boots and bikes. A long standing plan to kayak the river Wye having done many trips on French rivers. Having two cars makes this much easier and the Wye is very much the local. A route from Kerne Bridge via Symonds Yat and Monmouth to Redbrook was the plan

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Its a fine a leisurely way to spend a day. A little too leisurely as it turns out

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We passed by Welsh Bicknor YH and I rekindled memories of a stay there in my teens for a school history trip. We had to walk over the bridge in the photo below with all our stuff including food (which from memory consisted of many tins of beans). I was surprised to see the bridge in a very dangerous state and clearly closed. Its a very long walk in to the hostel at the moment

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A little further on near Yat Rock we pulled up for lunch (and a Funster snooze)

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Back on the river it began to dawn on me that it was quite a long way between Kerne Bridge and Redbrook. A very long way.

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I’ve become used to the relatively swift flow of rivers like the Tarn and the Dordogne in France. The Wye is like a lake in comparison so rather than letting the river do the work, we had to paddle pretty much the whole way

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Past the tourist haven of Symonds Yat and a short portage around the rapids. We should have just gone down on the water as they aren’t especially tough – a good deal easier than dragging a 3 person kayak 300 yards over slippery rocks

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Onwards through the Wye gorge and under the bouncy bridge at the Biblins campsite

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Its a very pretty stretch and very quiet. By this time however we were all feeling that we’d had enough of the river!

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The stretch to Monmouth seemed to take an eternity but at least the crowds had gathered to cheer us through – well they might have been there for the rowing regatta but I’ll take whatever I can get

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I was excited to pass under the bridge at Monmouth – seeing as I drive over a couple of times most days on my way to and from work.

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Its a mightily impressive structure

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At last we were on the home straight (after an involuntary dip trying to push the kayak over a shallow section)

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Finally the bridge at Redbrook came into view and we were done

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The pub on the opposite bank looked mighty tempting for a beer until I realised it was after 6pm and we’d been paddling for over 6 hours! Time to go home for tea 🙂

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A long day, probably too long – lesson learned – but great fun and a surprisingly tough workout that my arms are only just recovering from.

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Turns out it was almost 16 miles – hell of long way to paddle but easy on the knees at least

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Me? On a Bike? You must be joking!   9 comments

Most of my friends know that I’m not a huge fan of cycling. As a cheap means of transport when I was too poor to afford a car it did the job. As a means of outdoor fun it just never quite buried itself in my psyche like walking and the rest of my madcap outdoor pursuits. I do own a very dated mountain bike a very sad relic in an age of high-tech machines, but its a rare occasion when I take it out.

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This could be changing however after a rather splendid little jaunt a couple of weeks back which I have to admit I rather enjoyed. When we were walking at Symonds Yat at couple of months back I noticed lots of cyclists on the south side on what must be an old disused railway line along the course of the river Wye. Perfect for the kids I thought so we hoisted all the bikes down there and gave it a shot

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After a reluctant start from my youngest (trying to get past the crowds and the cars at Symonds Yat out her off a bit) and some lunch the kids really got into the swing of it and we picked up a decent pace all the way to Monmouth and back.

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Only about 10 miles in total but seeing as L in particular has never cycled more than up and down our cul-de-sac before I was quite pleased at how well she coped. The weather was kind and stayed dry so it was a very pleasant and very different day out from the usual walks. The Forest of Dean nearby has loads of old disused railway lines from the coal mining days now used as cycleways so hopefully we can get a few more trips in before winter.

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I actually quite like cycling – there, I said it. Just don’t expect any major cycling tours from me!

Video works better than photos so enjoy the little compilation with a tune to remind you that it’s still August and still technically summer…

Posted August 6, 2012 by surfnslide in Cycling, Family Trips

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At home with our friends from the North – Raglan Castle and Wye Valley   4 comments

It was our last day all together and at last the British summer delivered a day worthy of the name. Not exactly wall to wall sunshine but bright and most importantly dry. The weather was still too unpredictable to head into the mountains so I suggested another walk along the Wye Valley. We needed somewhere for the kids to let off some steam so we headed for another of our local castles at Raglan.

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Main entrance

It’s not quite as evocative or atmospheric as the riverside setting at Goodrich but it’s much bigger and has loads more in the way of tunnels, rooms and stairways to explore so we just let the kids run riot and we all headed off to explore at our own leisure.

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Across to the keep

It has the classic castle features of a proper keep with a spiral staircase and a moat as well as dungeons.

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Moat surrounding the Keep

The kids were in seventh heaven and seemed to enjoy the extra space that Raglan has. From my perspective it’s more fortified manor house than military installation with the decorative features and the moat designed to enhance rather than defend. It’s also less well presented than  Goodrich with only sporadic information boards and no audio guide. Still the views from the battlements were excellent and a fine time was had by all.

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Sugar Loaf and Ysgyryd Fawr from the battlements

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Mark and B explore the moat

There was even a swallow in her nest just a few inches away on one of the staircases (Mark, I’m sure will correct me if I’ve got the bird wrong!)

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Swallow nesting

We decided a picnic in the grounds was in order and shock/horror the sun came out and it was almost hot! The adults lazed in the sun while the kids collected grass and mud-stains rolling around in the dry moat. You can read Mark’s post about the castle here.

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Picnic in the grounds

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The Keep

I would have happily stayed all afternoon but there was a walk in the offing. We collected the school party and drove a few miles up the A40 to take in a walk around some of the interesting stuff that surrounds Symonds Yat. First are the caves culminating in King Arthur’s Cave (he gets about this bloke, caves, seats and castles all over the place). The kids of course thought these were great fun especially the small one they could all climb through.

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L and A go caving

Not exactly a huge cave system but enough to entertain the kids and find a few calcite features and mud.

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King Arthurs Cave

From there the walk takes you down towards the Wye, first taking in Seven Sisters Rocks perched high above the river. One of my favourite local spots with spectacular views along the gorge and down to the river of chocolate below. The usual nervous times for the parents with kids dashing about near the cliff edge!

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Downstream view from Seven Sisters Rocks

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Upstream view from Seven Sisters Rocks

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Happy families

Onwards to the river and the Biblins campsite, reserved for school groups (bit of a shame for everyone else as it’s a nice spot). The river crossing is by a narrow suspension bridge which again the kids found mightily entertaining, enhanced by the fast flowing river beneath.

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A & L on Biblins bridge

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Biblins bridge

As we strolled up towards Symonds Yat the sun came out properly and treated us to some stunning vistas across the river complete with flooded islands and rafts of debris floating downstream after the Monsoons of the past couple of days. The last day was turning into a great one and everyone enjoyed the pleasure of walking at a steady pace in the warm sunshine, drinking in the riverside views.

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Sunshine at last

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River Wye in flood

We had planned to use the small ferry that crosses the Wye and return to the cars by some more caves. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t running due to the sheer volume of water and huge amounts of flood debris. The kids were placated with the promise of ice creams while Mark and me walked back the way we’d come to collect the cars and pick everyone up for the journey home. Mark’s take on the day is here.

So ended our week with the aforementioned friends from the north. It had been a fantastic week despite the at times poor weather and I think we made the very most of what was on offer. I really enjoy showing off the local places I’ve come to know so well and I think Mark, TBH, A, B and S all enjoyed the days as well, from castles to rivers to waterfalls and a right proper soaking. There is still so much more to show-off so I’m hoping they’ll make a return visit. Who knows next time we may be able to sit in the garden. It was a real pleasure to have them stay the week, a cracking time was had by all. Hope you enjoy the slide show

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