For the second part of my good lady’s birthday celebrations, today we were joined for a walk by her parents, plus our daughter and number two son. The birthday girl had decided on following the Wordsworth Walk in Llandogo, as she liked the look of the views shown in the walk booklet and also wanted to visit Cleddon Falls part way round.
The in-laws arrived around 10:00 am, as arranged, and we headed off – bottles of water and flasks of coffee packed into a rucksack – to Llandogo along the River Wye.
Upon arrival we parked next to a playground, and whilst we sorted out the puppy, bags, walking boots etc., we had out first incident. Number two son thought, in his infinite wisdom, that his younger sister obviously needed help getting down the slide so gave her a helpful shove, resulting in a cut, the appearance of blood and the associated tears. Oh joy! Plaster and TLC administered, we finally set off on the Wordsworth Walk.
The first place of note, after the old Brown’s Village Store (now branded Londis) and – having crossed the main road – the village green, was St. Oudoceus Church. The church dates back to the 1600s, but was rebuilt in 1860.
Then it was off-road and onto the river bank to follow where the old Wye Valley railway used to run. Before the railway’s arrival in 1876 this riverbank had seen use as a towpath, utilising both horses and men to tow boats through the shallow waters into the 19th century.
Shortly afterwards we re-crossed the main road we then took the path signposted Cleddon up the Great Hill between houses. Apparently donkeys used to travel up this path to deliver coal to homes high up the hillside!
As anyone with kids who prefer to spend their lives (or at least as much as possible of them) indoors staring at screens whilst gaming / watching TV / social media etc. can probably identify with, it wasn’t long before our kids started complaining about just how many steps there were on the way up the Great Hill. Personally I felt that the climb had fantastic rustic scenery on, and either side of, the path – and there was some great viewpoints on the way up to look back down over the valley too.
That, however, was pretty much lost on them – especially number two son who expressed how close to death he was loudly and with great regularity!
Eventually we reached the point on the map where the two large rocks known as the Bread And Cheese Stones. This was the site of incident number two. OK, it wasn’t really an incident, just a sense of disappointment from my wife that the view shown in the booklet – from the 1950s – had more or less been completely obscured by trees.
On the plus side we had just about reached the summit of the Great Hill now, and our four-legged friend seemed to appreciate the Bread And Cheese Stones – mind you, she always has had a thing for cheese!
A little further along the pathway we came to a junction with the Wye Valley Walk with directions to Bargain Wood on our left. We headed right, following the bridlepath.
Within a few hundred yards we came to the top of the waterfall at Cleddon Falls. I suspect that, perhaps like the aforementioned stones, the view of the Falls is better in winter when the greenery has died back somewhat. Nonetheless, the Falls is quite a scenic place and nice to visit – though it’s fair to say that some of our party were expecting something a little bigger and more dramatic!
From there it was a case of following a zig-zagging path back down the hill towards to village. At this point I managed to get a bit of life and fun out of number two son by clambering down over the hillside to take shortcuts between zigs and zags, and encouraging him, and also our daughter, to do likewise. After a while they, the puppy and I had built up a bit of a lead over my wife and her parents, so we stopped for a while to let them catch up. At least, that was the plan. It was here that incident number three had its genesis.
Ever since I can remember, the daughter of the family has had a tendency to rush on ahead when we are on the final stages of walks, especially on downhill sections. The same thing happened today, and by the time the rest of us had realised she had gone past a point at which the path diverged in two different directions and we had no idea which way she’d gone!
I shot off in one direction, with puppy-features in hot pursuit, and the rest took the other path. By the time I’d reached the road near the Priory towards the bottom of the hill there was no sign of her. To add further fun to the mix, the complexities of being a blended family meant that although number three son was at his mother’s for the weekend he had arranged to come home early this afternoon to join in with some of the time spent with grandparents. Such negotiations are often not easy to achieve, and so it was that I had to collect said child from the bus stop in our nearest town. And to do so I had to leave Llandogo right at that moment!
Fortunately, despite a generally lacking mobile phone signal, my wife and I were able to liaise and they managed to track our daughter down whilst I was racing into town and back! Unfortunately, by the time number three son and I got back to join everyone at the playground else ten minutes later, there had been incident number four involving heated words between number two son and his grandmother, leading to some not very happy folk at all.
We de-camped to the nearby village of Tintern, and the lovely Anchor Inn, and had a drink in the pub garden whilst the puppy threw up, probably as a result of a little too much excitement and exertion on the hill, and anyone who needed to had a chance to calm down and relax a little.
Then it was time to head home for a beautiful homemade (thanks to mother-in-law) meal of South African bobotie, some World Cup rugby on TV (for the benefit of the in-laws) and all was right with the world again.
As an aside, the walk is named the Wordsworth Walk after the poet William Wordsworth, who wrote a piece entitled “Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey…” during a visit in July 1798 – though it’s not clear that he would have walked this route, or even in Llandogo. It was published in “Lyrical Ballads” the same year.
It’s my birthday next our little family. I’ve already promised number three son we’ll go on another walk, as he missed out on this one, and I just hope it’s as scenic and enjoyable as this one was (in the end!)…