Last weekend we were invited to stay with the YHA at the River Wye. The main purpose was to review the bell tent, which you can read about in my previous post here. We have never visited the area before so didn't really know what to expect, but wow! The scenery was amazing. Everywhere was so green.
The river Wye is located within the Forest of Dean, and the easiest way I can locate that in my head is to say its between Bristol and the Welsh border. (Geography is not my finest skill).
With two days to fill, three children to entertain and a card I didn't want to splash I headed over to the geocaching website. From this website I had planned that from the campsite we could stroll along the river Wye finding a few caches along the route and end up at a pub at Symond Yat for dinner, before strolling back again. (The geocaching website shows footpaths and hints at where a stunning location is with photos, generally the more caches in an area the more beautiful it is!) The second day was due to be spent at the local castle exploring before heading home.
They loved following the river as they could wave to the canoes as they floated past, or run through the trees trying to climb them or reach branches.
We soon became stuck though. The bridge we needed to cross the river on was closed. The next bridge would have taken us too far past the Symonds Yat which would have been too far for thee little legs so we decided to head back and drive there instead.
S led the way back to the campsite along a bush tree lined path.
I wasn't a big fan of driving to the destination instead of walking as the road into the youth hostel was daunting. It was very and I mean very narrow. (It has recently been resurfaced in areas so its not too bumpy). I had to put my mirrors in and get as close to a wall as possible and the other side was a sheer drop, there was also a hairpin bend thrown into the mix too. Thank fully I never came across anyone in the other direction as I wouldn't know what to do. The SAT NAV also directed me along a road the car could not physically fit on the way which resorted in a 25 point (maybe more) turn and my first ever little bump, whoops! Thankfully no damage was done as it was hardly moving, but the girls noticed the bump. Cheeky S is already saying "Do you remember the time you crashed the car mummy?". I never actually crashed but I could have thrown the SAT NAV out of the window if it wasn't built into the car. After the drama of the drive we reached our destination. Symonds Yat. A vocal point where the river does a horse shoe shape, meandering 3.5 miles to move a total of 0.5 mile.
It made beautiful photos as well as enabling us to claim an earth geocache whilst visiting. The girls were amazed at how far we could see as the weather was just perfect.
We enjoyed ice creams and teddies sat in the sun. Yes, my girls decided they wanted teddies instead of ice creams. S choosing a peregrine falcon, as the area is known to nest these amazing birds. She was very impressed to learn that they could fly up to 200 miles an hour, and then proceeded to make her bird fly the entire day. J chose a deer as they are also known to be in the area. We actually saw some in our campsite later in the day whilst we were sat around the fire, and again as we left.
After enjoying the scenery on top we decided to climb down to the bottom and enjoy the river with the plan of catching the ferry across the river and doing a circular walk.
It was a long way down. My GPS watch estimates we climbed between 450-500 meters. We took it slow which meant the girls could explore around us. Neither of the girls were brave enough to enter the small cave though.
Once we were out of the trees the blue skies greeted us again along with the calm flat river. It truly felt like we were on a holiday, far far away.
As we approached the ferry the man that pulled it from side to side took his break. After waiting 15 minutes for him to return we decided to re-plan. The time was getting on. The girls were getting tired. We also realised the climb back up to the car would be tough and steep for little legs as well as ours.
We decided to stay on the road side of the river and stroll along to the rapids and watch the canoes go through.
The girls loved watching them in the sunshine. The older two girls wanted to have a go but with having S with us, we decided against it.
After a little rest it was time to go back up the hill. We also scrapped the idea of dinner in the pub at the bottom as we were unable to find a table. The gorgeous weather and stunning location brought everyone out.
We took many stops walking back up the hill. The girls legs coped amazingly with the conditions. When we needed to rest they carried on playing, Pretending to sweep the floor of the forest.
We hadn't brought any food with us to cook back at the camp site, nor did we come across any shops so we hunted for a country pub. After a little drive we stumbled across a quiet pub with a garden. Perfect. The girls still had lots of energy to burn off whilst waiting for their dinner to be cooked.
When I say country pub, it really was it the middle of nowhere. The views flowed and the girls enjoyed watching the cows and sheep in their fields.
It started to get late so it was time to check into our tent for the night. It was such a relief to have it all set up ready and waiting for us.
We also had a field full of scouts waiting for us too at the camp site. With the teens playing ball and Frisbee in the middle of the field until late it was impossible for the girls to get to sleep.
After giving up trying to get them to sleep, they joined us outside under duvets to watch the stars appear one by one. Pointing out the girls Great-Great-Grandma's star. (She's always the brightest one in the sky). Another family who were also glamping with YHA had set up the fire pit for a camp fire as it was their last night invited us to join them. We sat discussing our days, talking stars and space stations and then the girls chatted about the fire fairies that emerged when he put more logs on the fire. It was a great way to end the night sat on logs keeping warm.
The girls then slept well under their duvets. I couldn't sleep, hearing every little noise, drifting off then being woken by the birds. Wow, woken up by the birds and not a big lorry. I had forgotten our hats so they were well hidden underneath the duvets. S woke at 6 wondering where J was which gave me a fright. She was just keeping warm but soon emerged wanting the loo straight away. As it was a clear night it was a cold night. We left the tent for an icy dewy frost and a low mist over the river. It was amazing but didn't last for long.
After we washed ourselves up and had breakfast at the centre to warm up, the sun was shining bright and strong. Perfect to sit and watch everyone else pack up the tents whilst the girls played.
S was mesmerised by the bubbles whilst J and K2 played horsey galloping around the camp site.
After checking out we decided to give the castle a miss as the girls were up so late and decided to walk the other way along the river from the hostel. This gave the girls a good space to run free before jumping in the car.
The field was filled with buttercups, dandelions and thrushes. The girls loved it.
It was the perfect way to end a lovely weekend getaway in another beautiful part of England.