The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Wye, Oh Wye!
Some were already en route (and we were just about to set out) when there was the most colossal hail storm. Ball-bearing sized hail was rattling off the roof tiles, but a slightly dodgy forecast wouldn’t deter us from a fabulous weekend in the Wye valley.
It was quite a drive on a Friday night, but at least with it being mid-June there was a trace of light in the sky as we neared the hostel. It is very well tucked away. Even those of us who had been there before were wondering if we could possibly have missed the turning, but then it appeared: a tortuous descent on a fractured concrete track, negotiating hair-pin bends in tree-dappled twilight. Finally we saw the welcome lights of Welsh Bicknor hostel and within a few minutes we were relaxing, beer in hand, with our comrades.
Doug took his trip leadership responsibilities very seriously and had sketched out a route for our Saturday walk. Welsh Bicknor YH is situated on the inside of an incised meander of the River Wye, and the first part of the walk was a climb up Coppet Hill – the hill pinched in that meander. After the rain of the day before the brilliant sunshine brought cloying humidity, but also the most beautiful views from the top. We could see rain-sodden black clouds only a few miles away, but thankfully by-passing us and heading straight for Wales. The rest of our view was filled with green: woodland and pasture, just occasionally studded with stone-hewn villages, and all linked by the winding of the river below. We also had a great view of Goodrich Castle with the promise of tea and cake to lure us onwards.
The weather held long enough for a leisurely riverside lunch, but shortly afterwards we had to crack open the waterproofs for the only shower of the day, luckily only about 15 mins. Leaving views of Symonds Yat behind us, we left the riverbank and headed up into the woods, shimmying through shoulder high stinging nettles and crawling under fallen trees. The reward was tea and very nice cake at Goodrich.
At this point there was a parting of the ways, as some took an hour or so to tour the castle and others picked either the short or the long walk back. Still, everyone made it back to the hostel for a delicious meal of fried chicken and roasted veg (thank you Doug) and banana do-dah and custard (thank you Carol & Andrew).
Of course, no trip to the Wye could be complete without an ascent of Yat Rock, so this is what we did on Sunday. It was another humid climb, but what a view. More sunshine, a soaring buzzard, tea and bread pudding, plus the famous view over the meandering Wye. Here there was another parting of the ways as return routes of varying lengths were planned. Our route included the ancient hand ferry at the Saracen’s Head, coincidentally an opportunity for further rehydration. It was then a long riverside stroll back to the hostel before the drive home.
Thank you, Doug, for organising a great weekend, and particularly the glorious sunshine!
Trial by Moonlight
Mick went to a lot of trouble to organise our night hike around Felsted. There was a table booked at the pub, walkie-talkies & fluorescent armbands, a tea and snack wagon for half way around, even a full moon. The only thing Mick couldn’t organise was the weather. After a fine afternoon, the clouds built and the heavens opened before we’d even left the pub. We delayed our start to avoid the worst of the downpour, but even so the first part of our walk was more lit by bolts of lightning than moonlight. Although darker than we’d hoped, we generally managed without our torches, although Chris did fall into a ditch just before half time. A little stunned and too sore to continue, unfortunately Chris missed the best part of the walk. After midnight the skies cleared and we were treated to the peace and quiet of the early hours as we walked in the moonlight shadow.
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