Initially our journey was planned to be undertaken in 4 days, but this seemed too easy!! So sticking with tradition we went for another 3 day challenge!! The team consisted of the following Hamptoneers; Jenny, Emily, Aidan, Mark, Tony, Barnet, Derek Henderson, Derek Heath, Sarah, Stephen and myself.

We met up at Ye Old Ferrie Inn at Symonds Yat, where we all had a nice dinner and puddings, before heading to the bunkhouse for a good nights sleep, so we hoped! With triple decked bunk beds and minimal head room, the snoring and the smoke alarm (or methane detector!) going off twice in the night, we were a bit dozy in the morning.

Day 1 – Glasbury to Hereford 33 miles  Day 1 pictures

At the start of are journey the canoe hire company (Wye Canoes) insisted we rafted up the boats and we were accompanied by a guide. I think they thought we were a bunch of novices! The river was a quite high and a lot of the rapids were washed out but there were a few bumpy waves and a couple of weirs to go down. Our guide Nathan realised after a few minutes that we weren’t novices and after lunch we were let free!  Later on in the day we stopped for a cream tea, where the bank was very slippery and some of us had fun getting out of the boat! After 8 hours paddling we reached our campsite, which was near the Hereford Rowing club, where we said good-bye to Nathan our guide, who seemed to be happy for us to continue on are journey without him, I think the truth was he was worn out trying to keep up with us!

We all had warm showers, a good meal and a glass or two or three of wine to help us sleep. With hindsight this turned out to be the best day for weather, being dry and sunny most of the day.

Day 2 – Hereford to Symonds Yat 43 miles    Day 2 pictures

After a wet start we started on the longest stretch of are journey. Emily seemed to pick the most slippery banks for us to get out for our morning and lunch breaks with several of us entertaining the others by slipping over in the mud. Ho Ho Ho! Just after the lunch stop we had a grumpy warden tell us of for stopping on the bank, lucky he was on the other side of the river!  Despite it being a very wet day there was lots of fun had by having water fights, mainly Jenny, Emily, Barnet, Derek Heath and myself. Whilst poor Stephen and Aidan seemed to get caught in the crossfire!

After lunch we mixed up the boats so I could get some training in for DW2015 and to give others a change. We paddled beneath many disused railway bridges spanning the river, on some only the pillars remained. There was lots of wildlife around mainly birds, we saw buzzards, lots of swans, herons, kingfishers, and different types of ducks with there babies, but the most fascinating were the swifts flying over the river surface catching all the mayflies.

Day 3 – Symonds Yat to Chepstow 24 miles    Day 3 pictures

Still raining! We had a very early start on the water, just after 6am! Nathan joined us to help guide us on the tidal section of the river. First we had to run the famous rapids at Symonds Yat where there was a massive wave train running down the middle of the river, but most of us stayed just right of the wave to avoid getting swamped, we all survived the rapid with no capsizes! After the rapids the river started to widen and meander back and forth around the hills and cliff faces.

As we entered the tidal stretch of the river the banks changed into shiny mud that looked like chocolate moose. There were lots of ruins of Abbeys and castles along the way. The hardest part to the day was the portage where we had to carry the boats up a steep jetty on to dry land.

We met up back at Ye Old Ferrie Inn at Symonds Yat for a light lunch before heading home after a really lovely few days together.

Daniel Bownds

Pictures by Jenny, Stephen & Dan – will add these soon