Finally, we’re completing the river wye journey. This has been a very tough challenge, and a very demanding one.
Today we had to do the final leg of the journey from Monmouth to Chepstow where the river meets the sea.
After getting all the kit together, we headed off to Chepstow to see the finish point. This was next to a pub called the Boat Inn. There was a small slipway here that would enable us to get ourselves and the boat out of the water. We checked the access to this and it was okay.
Today, Dad and my cousin Joel were coming with me. The reason they come, is one for company as it can be boring doing adventures on my own, and secondly for safety as the River wye from Bigsweir bridge is tidal. We drove to Monmouth and then followed the river to Bigsweir bridge. At the bridge the water was too low so we walked along the river, past the old railway station and onto to Tintern which was about 3.5miles.
We parked the car at Tintern Abbey, the ruins of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1131. Next to the car park was a slope into the river. It was covered in thick gooey mud that we had to scramble down through to the river. Dad and Joel carried the raft down to the river and then I slid, scrambled down to the waters edge.
Dad then put the engine onto the inflatable rib, and we set it up ready to head off. Once we were ready, dad started the engine and off we went. The mud from the access slope was now all over the raft.
The river is tidal so we started at low tide with the aim to make it to the rivers mouth using the slack water of the low tide, so giving us two hours to do the journey which was planned to be 13km. We made good time initially.
Joel and I decided to mask our faces in mud and we had lots of fun caking ourselves in the mud that had got in the raft at the start of the trip. There was a good few inches of water and mud in the raft with us which sloshed around the bottom of the boat.
We started off zooming along and passed under the cliffs of Shorncliffe and Wyncliffe. A couple of times we came across small rapids and so we lifted the engine up and paddled through them so that the engine didn’t bounce off the underwater rocks.
We actually grounded onto some rocks and so dad jumped into the water to move us over them, he started off in water unto his ankles and at one point it was over his waste lol. Dad and I had worn wetsuits with full splash suits/waterproofs and Joel had worn a floatation survival suit which I had borrowed off our yacht, as he had no wetsuit. On top of that we had buoyancy aids.
At the start we had been really warm, but once on the river, the wind was quiet sharp even though that sun was out and seemed hot. The spray from the river in our face was sharp and cold.
It was amazing being on the river and seeing the scenery. Huge walls of rock rose out of the river and at other parts of the river, walls of trees lined the banks.
I drove the boat for a while and I enjoyed that. Dad told me to stay in the centre of the river as that was the deepest part. Thankfully I didn’t crash or ground on anything. It was good being in control of the boat. I drove it for about an hour.
We passed under one cliff that was called Winters leap, which was over 100mtrs in height. Dad told us that it was named after a Royalist called Sir John Winter who was riding a horse and being chased by the Roundheads army during the old parliamentary war. He allegedly leapt from the top of the cliffs and landed in the river, swimming to Chepstow castle just down the river. I thought that was crazy.
We continued on past the cliffs and waved at some of the rock climbers who were clinging to its vertical face above us. One of them saw us and waved back at us. They looked cool – I said to dad that I would like to abseil that cliff and maybe climb it as well.
After the cliffs it was a boring bit where we plodded on and there wasn’t much else to see. Joel drove the boat for a while and he did good. I pretended to do stunts at the front of the boat, using the attachment slings to hold onto. At one point dad and I leaned on the front of the boat and allowed a wave to pour in and soak Joel – that was funny. Then we rounded a corner and ahead of us was Chepstow Castle. It looked amazing in the sun as we were in the shade.
We passed under the castle as it towered above us and continued under the old chepstow bridge. This bit and the last 30minutes was hard work as the tide had turned and the current was strong against us. As such we were traveling at 6mph and the current was at 4.5mph so we were only moving forward at 1.5mph for the last while. As we approached the finish at Chepstow bridge, my Grandpops was on the bridge watching us with his binoculars so we waved at him and he waved back. Once we were under the bridge we cam to the small jetty that we had seen earlier at Chepstow and so we drove past it and then dad turned us and we caught the current and zipped up to the jetty. Joel leapt out and tied us off and we all clambered out.
We made sure the boat was tied securely and then we got all the kit off the boat into the parking area, and then Joel and I waited with the boat as Grandpops took dad back to get his car.
When dad came back the tide had risen and the jetty had risen up in the water so Joel and Dad were able to lift the boat up to the road with ease. I carried some of the kit to help them. We loaded the car and then had a coke and some chips whilst we sat on the sea wall watching the river rise with the tide.
I have finished my challenge and it was awesome. It was hard and at times really tough to find the motivation to carry on because I found some of it boring. But I’m glad I have completed it. Thankfully this challenge is complete, now the problem is, what is the next challenge….
Distance – 13km
Time – 3hrs