Ross to Lower Lydbrook on the Wye

I had no idea how long this was going to take, but then that was the whole point of getting out and paddling a section of the Wye on bank holiday Monday. With an eye on a 50 mile epic later in the summer, to celebrate 50 years since Sri Chinmoy came over from India to the West (we date the Sri Chinmoy Centre from his arrival in 1964), I had to see how fast / slow my paddling is these days!

I did the usual trick of stashing a folding bike at the take-out at Lower Lydbrook. It was easy to find - a green space by the river with a car park and steps down to the water, with a handy handrail for those staggering under the weight of a boat. Then I headed upstream to Ross where I stashed the car in a parking space only 100 metres or so from the river - you get 4 hours free parking.

Once in the water I was soon back into the swing of paddling despite the fact I hadn't been out on the water since France last summer. I had an old laminated canoeist's guidebook with some milages in it, so when I got to Wilton Bridge in just a few minutes I realised I should be ok for a steady 4mph at least. There were loads of swans on the river, and it was clearly their macho-season as there were a few fights going on. Alpha males I guess. Anyway it was a bit edgy paddling through a flotilla of 30 or 40 swans when at any minute two could start a splashy fight right alongside.

Apart from that there was only minor excitement as the only rapids on this stretch are grade-0 affairs with 6 to 10 inch waves that barely even break over the bow of the kayak (an old Kiwi - beginner's boat). It was sublime though - peaceful and at that time of the morning virtually deserted. I guess it gets busy later but between 8 and 10 you can have the whole river to yourself, even on a popular stretch on a bank holiday in good weather. Surprising, but true.

The dramatic ruins of Goodrich Castle loomed over the river after forty minutes or so, and the swans became less frequent - instead I was blessed with the site of a heron (a personal fave) languidly taking off on the opposite bank, and a stunning Mandarin Duck.

I avoided any stops and just pushed on steadily to the take-out, passing under the dramatic Kerne Bridge after 1.05 and getting to Lydbrook in 1.35. I was well pleased with that for 8 miles in pretty low & slow water. Not sure when or if the 50 miler will happen, but this was a great trip in its own right anyhow.


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