Paddling The Wye 2010

A lengthy section of a gentle river.

The Wye is the second longest of the Welsh rivers, flowing in England for a substantial amount of its length. For much of its lower reach, it is easily navigable and quite gentle, and is one of the most popular rivers for canoes and kayaks. Our route started at Kerne Bridge in England, and ended at Monmouth in Wales, passing through the Forest of Dean and the massive meanders of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Peter, Nerys and I were in kayaks, while the remaining three novices (including my wife and daughter) shared a sturdy inflatable canoe. Though I have paddled a couple of rivers and lakes some time ago, I am certainly no expert, leaving Peter as our most experienced paddler.

We had intended to start at Huntsham Bridge, but many places on the river have their access restricted by unpleasant owners, or selfish organised groups, who try to prevent access to anyone except themselves. When it involves crossing private land, I can understand it. But at Huntsham Bridge, the access point is a public road. The group appear to use it as a money-spinning technique; "if you pay to canoe with our group, you could use this point to put in". Imagine this as a public footpath, and the group controls a gate between the road and the path - they would only let you go through the gate onto the path if you paid a toll fee, for them to lead you along the path. With footpaths, this would be considered outrageous, but with the river, they are not prevented from doing it. Anyway, I digress.

The pictures are all taken with a compact camera which I kept in a waterproof bag under my spraydeck, having to repeatedly remove the spraydeck and unpack the camera to use it. Each shot needed me to break away from the group for long enough to get the camera ready, and predict where the best pictures would be. Quite tiring. Almost all pictures were taken from a moving kayak with very little control, and as such, they are certainly not my best. But they are fun, so whatever.