It’s 08:00 on a cold Saturday in March, and a group of intrepid adult section paddlers (and Tilda!) are gathering in the club car park ready for the 2 hour drive to the Symonds Yat on the River Wye. After sorting kit and loading up the cars we were off!
The plan for the trip was a leisurely cruise down from Kerne Bridge along a 9 mile stretch of the River Wye to Symonds Yat itself. Upon first inspection of the river at the put-in, and despite the forecasted level, the water appeared to be flowing along at a fast pace. This was going to be a quicker paddle than first anticipated! With everyone safely on the water, the group spent a bit of time acclimatising to the speed of the water; practicing ferry gliding across the flow and experimenting with break-in and break outs. Within minutes, the team was carving gracefully from bank to bank, showing off some impressive boat control. With everyone settled in, the journey began.
The beautiful stretch of river between Kerne Bridge and Symonds Yat is flanked by lush green fields, wild woodland and dramatic rocky cliffs, which play home to peregrine falcons (or pointy looking pigeons if you don’t know what you’re looking at). Meandering through the countryside, the group paddled on to the lunch stop near the base of Yat Rock, taking time to play on some of the small river features along the route.
A squashed sandwich, pork pie and mars bar always tastes better when eaten next to a river after a good morning of paddling. With full stomachs, the group set off once more to complete the final stretch of the trip. The finish point only lay just over half a mile from the lunch spot however, there was one small catch. The short route would involve a climb up one of the aforementioned cliffs and down a steep slope on the other side. Being a paddling trip after all, the alternative and preferred option was the stretch of river, which connected the lunch stop and end point with a large, 4 mile long meander. A brisk north wind made the first half of this section a chilly affair with a number of paddlers succumbing to cold hands and faces but once round the top of the bend and with the wind behind us, spirits were lifted for the home straight.
Obligatory seal launches off the imaginatively nicknamed “Seal Launch Rock” completed, the group paddled into Symonds Yat, a little chilly but happy after the day on the river. A brief scout of the Symonds Yat Rapids revealed that they had been washed out by the high water leaving little more than a slightly bumpy stretch of fast moving wet stuff. The rapids would have to be saved for a later date! After a quick change, car shuffle and hot drink for those who remembered one, the team set off back to Henley, already looking forward to the next trip!
A big thank you to Keith for organising the trip!
If you’d like to find out more about the route undertaken, have a look at this handy UK Rivers Guidebook Guide: http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/rivers/wales/south/river-wye-ross-on-wye-to-symonds-yat-east”