This was a trip with two weirs, two confluences, three rivers, bridges for roads and railway, a fine canal aqueduct and all day sunshine. The river level had gone up after a few days rain but was back down to 0.75m. Just fine. I would still have liked to cop out of the weir but stage 1 on the Tanat with Sue and Brian taught me that fear just adds a bit if fizz to life if you face it head on. So whooooosh! following Amy’s line I’m down. The next picture shows it at a much higher water level than it was on the day just so you can share the thrill.
For a mile Amy, Duncan, Brian and I bobbed like a set of happy ducklings down the stream. This is “my” river yet I have never had the chance to explore it before. That gave me a real thrill and I was glad that Dave was there to share it as I know he has a fondness for what he calls “Welsh Ditches”. Does a silver waterway tucked between hanging alder and blackthorn fascinate us all? The Tanat reminds me of a book that I loved as a child called “The Little Grey Men. Down the Bright Stream”. This was written and illustrated by a naturalist called Denys Watkins-Pritchard under the pseudonym “BB”. The story recounts the epic adventure of the brothers Dodder, Baldmoney, Sneezewort and Cloudberry, the last four gnomes in England. They live in a cosy burrow beneath the gnarled roots of an aged oak tree on the bankside of the Folly Brook in Warwickshire. Their lives are happy and tranquil until Cloudberry becomes obsessed with a desire to explore the wider world. BB was a naturalist. His writing was deeply embellished by his knowledge of the English countryside. I read this book over and over as a child living in tropical Singapore and have wanted to go down the bright stream ever since.
Back on the water and a second confluence. Melverley Church is a treat to pass beneath then three Scots Pines lead to where the Vyrnwy meets the Severn.
From here to Melverley Bridge we see Admiral Rodney’s Pillar from every angle as the oxbows relentlessly loop us along. I’m becoming markedly less keen on Admiral Rodney. What is here there for? No-one knew. Later I read that the inscription on the pillar once read “”RODNEY’S PILLAR. The highest pillar will fall, the strongest towers will decay: but the fame of Sir George Brydges Rodney shall increase continually, and his good name shall never be obliterated.” Well they got that wrong.
It was with a great feeling of achievement that we reached “The Wooden Bridge” at Melverley. We had run three rivers in our short boats and from here on I would be in my sea boat, able to cover the miles much faster. We thought we had done at least 15 miles, maybe more but when Dave and I separately worked it out it turned out to be 13 miles. But what a day! Thank you to Duncan, Dave and Amy xxx