Hay on Wye

Present: Dave H (organiser), Nicola, Richard N, Jan, Alan, Claire, Steve, Joanne, Simon H, Jo, Sarah D, Bruce, Pokey, Annie, Izzy, Ange, Mick, Ayla, Callum, Dan, Beckie, Maisie, Sarah M, David M, Millie the dog

Location: New House Farm campsite, Rhosgoch

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Once we’d navigated several miles of narrow lanes to find the campsite, we were rewarded with clear views of sheep-dotted hills all around as we set the tents up. The barbecues were quickly fired up, and later on (once Certain People had said goodnight and gone off to their comfy B&B accommodation) the campfire was also going well – something for Dan, Bruce and Alan to nurture after everyone else had gone to bed.

The forecast rain had well and truly arrived on Saturday morning, but did seem to be lessening once we arrived in Glasbury. This was the start point for our 11-mile canoe trip along the river to Whitney on Wye. Everyone launched more-or-less successfully, although Millie required some serious persuasion to get in the canoe in the first place. The river proved to be very shallow in many areas, leading to regular grounding (and swearing) moments – at times the easiest option was to get out and push the boat along. Just before Hay there was a small weir that required some precise paddling if you didn’t want immediate grounding afterwards – success was mixed, and David and Sarah managed to get their canoe impressively stuck on top of the weir. We stopped in Hay to meet Nicola, and for sustenance and a wander around the festival. From there it was a few miles more to the pub at Whitney on Wye, and the distance was completed in a mixture of sun and showers. Joanne sang her way down the river to pass the time, while Bruce tried a spot of gondoliering (or was it punting?). We all recovered with a drink or two in the pub before being shuttled back to our start point.

The rain had set in once more in a very soul-destroying fashion when we returned to the campsite, and rather than attempt soggy cooking, some of the group decided to try their luck at the pub in the next village along. Unfortunately we were part of a large influx of pub-goers thanks to the festival and the weather, and the pub couldn’t cope. When we still hadn’t had any food two hours after ordering, and some of us had been asked to change our order twice, the two Sarahs were contemplating mutiny and eyeing up Millie’s food instead. Meals of varying quality were finally served, and we returned to a slightly drier campsite – so much so that Dan got the fire going again.

On Sunday the conditions were much better. The campers got a good idea of how the other half live while queueing for the toilets: they had a clear view of Certain People having a full breakfast in the B&B’s conservatory. The majority of the group did a walk over the hills around the campsite on open access land, which gave us clear views of Hay Bluff. We were back by mid afternoon for tea and cake, and later on got the BBQs going again. The campfire had plenty of fuel as night fell: Bruce and Dan, armed with a folding saw, went foraging for wood (we half expected to see a nearby telegraph pole fall) and when Joanne’s wooden chair broke, it was a matter of seconds before it was disassembled and thrown onto the blaze. Once again, some people stayed up into the wee small hours, thanks to the combination of beer and fire.

Monday involved a leisurely morning at the campsite as people packed up and set off in various directions – Hay on Wye, Ross on Wye, and Hereford seemed to be popular choices.

Sarah Davies

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