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Jun 11

Mixed Transport: Water, Water Everywhere

You may remember that I had been exploring the ruins of Llanthony Priory in the Vale of Ewyas in the company of a black cat. On returning to my new car (second hand) I set the compass for a hopefully northerly direction and I was off once more towards the Gospel Pass and the caffeinated delights of Hay-on- Wye. Unfortunately the day had turned rather dull with misty cloud so the views from the Gospel Pass and the spectacular decent to Hay were a little restricted. But still a wonderful, if not awe inspiring drive with a few excitements thrown in, such as getting tangled up in the local hunt. Hay was looking unusually drab and uninteresting so I thought that maybe I would go on a bit further and stop at the Rhydspence Inn for my long awaited coffee (not to mention lunch). As I crossed the bridge, the Wye was definitely in flood but had not spread too far over the fields on the north bank. Up to Clyro and turn right onto that wonderful stretch of Wye valley road. As I gained a little height east of Clyro the view of the valley ahead was ..….. water. The river had disappeared completely and the entire bottom of the valley was one vast lake. The Rhydspence, which is well above the valley floor, lost its attraction and I went on a further mile or so to see if The Boat Inn at Whitney-on-Wye was still afloat. It was, just.
Not a wonderful looking pub but it sits on the bank of the river (normally the river is about 20 to 30 yards away down a grassy slope and the pub is a popular stopping place for canoeists etc). It has a conservatory type affair on the back of the building overlooking the Wye, only today the river was right up to the wall of the pub and was about two feet below the conservatory floor level. It is difficult to describe how spectacular a scene it was. I sat at a table against the conservatory window and looked across a sheet of water, crisscrossed by field hedges and apparently abandoned trees, to the higher ground on the far side of the valley. The normal channel of the river, about twenty yards away, was a raging torrent with all sorts of debris, including significant chunks of trees, rushing past. Over the fields the water appeared to be stationary and was dotted with all sorts of aquatic birdlife. While I waited for my lunch to arrive I tried to work out how fast the river was flowing (timing how long it took chunks of debris to go past two posts sticking out of the water on what was normally the far bank). My best estimate was 15 miles an hour.
I arrived back in Ashford at about 2.30pm having set out to collect my new (second hand) car just before 9am – three months ago by these articles. What a wonderful trip, and in not much more than a morning. All the better for being completely unlooked for.
Trevor season approaches.