Wye Explorer Facts

There's something about getting up close to the Wye a river I've known for some time. I've looked upon it and enjoyed its waters but unlike many I've gone beyond the primary channel something Paul and I intended from the outset. With its main tributaries hiked, valleys, vales and mountains explored and its estuary boated upon it's more involved than any other investigation I've undertaken before. Now solo but still a shared experience it continues to be somewhat off the wall as adventure goes. So what have I done to date and what am I doing to bring this river to people's attention as I get to know it more intimately?

Note Public Transport Use - No trace ever left behind - Car share where appropriate

2013 - To start the Wye Explorer project we:

1) Followed the River Lugg from source in the Radnor Forest. Ascent approximately: 700 meters (2,296 Ft) - Distance Walked 58 Miles (93 Km). Other Details: 5 Camps, 2 towns and numerous people met. Date: July 20-25th.

2) Investigated the Mid/Lower Wye Gorge. Approximate Ascent: Sea Level - Distance Walked: An easy 15 Miles (24KM). Other Details: 2 camps, 1 town and 1 return bus journey. Date: October 11-12th.

2014 - We increased the distance and:

1) Hiked the River Frome from source through to Hereford. Ascent approximately: 250 meters (820 Ft) - Distance Walked: 28 Miles (45 Km). Other Details: 1 camp in a cricket pavilion and 1 bus journey. Date: April 18-20th.

2) Meandered the River Arrow from source in the Radnor Forest. Ascent approximately: 400 meters (1,300 Ft) - Distance Walked: 35 Miles (56 Km). Other Details: 2 camps, 2 towns, 1 car and 1 bus journey. Date: May 2-4th.

3) Approached walked and navigated to the Source of the Wye and traversed its valley to Rhayader. Ascent Approximately: 800 meters (2,600 Ft) - Distance Walked 64 Km (40 miles). Other Details: 4 camps (one at source), 2 towns, 1 village and 4 bus journeys. Date: August 22-25th.

4) Explored the Black Mountains connection via walking the River Honddu and Monnow both from source. Ascent approximately: 1,200 meters (3,937 Ft) - Distance Walked Combined: 53 Miles (85 Km). Other Details: 5 camps, 2 towns and 2 bus journeys. Date: September 13,14,15 (Honddu) and (Monnow) September 26,27,28.

5) SOLO recced the Radnor Forest a Wye distant water source. Ascent approximately: 600 meters (1,900 Ft) - Distance Walked: 23 Miles (37 Km) on account of missing the last bus. Date: October 11th.

6) Video documented one performance art project - Jess Allen

7) Created several rock balances on the Wye & Monnow.

8) Created numerous short films as featured on this site.

2015 - We started 2015 by:

1) Exploring the River Ennig and its waterfalls whilst in spate. Ascent approximately: 500 M (1,640Ft) - Distance Walked: 8.5 Miles (14KM) and 1 return bus journey. Date: 17th January.

2) Hiked the Afon Llynfi with a wild camp meet up and a brief investigation of Llangorse Lake. Ascent approximately 400 M (1,300 ft) - Distance Walked: 23 miles 37KM. Other Details: 1 wild camp, 1 abandoned caravan, 2 towns, 4 villages, and 4 bus journeys. Date: 11, 12 and 13th April.

3) Exploring the connection between the mighty Humber Estuary in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and the River Wye. Ascent approximately: Flat Sea Level - Distance Walked: 15 Miles. Other Details: 3 Bivvies/1 Bird Hide, 1 family gathering. Date: May 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8th.

4) Section Hiked the Lower River Wye - Trellech to Chepstow via Llandogo, St Briavels, Hudnalls National Nature Reserve and the Devils Pulpit. Ascent approximately: 250 M (800 Ft) - Distance Walked: 24 Miles 39KM. Other Details: 3 Bivvies 1 in a building site, 1 Spring, 1 Waterfall, 1 Castle, 2 German girls, 1 Canadian and a good number of local people met. Date: June.

5) SOLO - Solstice Swim. Early morning Distance Swam: A dip 300 Meters - Distance Walked: 7 Miles 11KM. Other Details: 1 girl met and 1 story of the river told. Date: June 21st.

6) SOLO - Erwood, Wye Valley & Black Mountains view finding via the Begwyn Hills & Back through to Glasbury. Ascent approximately 900 meters (2,900 ft) - Distance Walked: 26.5 Miles 43KM. Other Details: 1 Bivvy, 1 hill mistakenly ascended, 1 Skylark nest, 2 buses. Date: August.

7) SOLO - Water Breaks Its Neck in the Radnor Forest. Traverse of the forest from the Eastern Slopes through to the Western slopes, the Water Breaks Its Neck waterfall and its source. Accent approximately: 900 meters (2,900 Ft) - Distance Walked 12 Miles 19 KM. Other Details: 2 camps, 1 village, 1 return bus journey and 1 tour of the forest with Matt a local farmers son. Date: 6, 7 & 8th Aug nice and slow.

8) SOLO - Paul Llangorse Lake Swim training. No log provided. Numerous training swims throughout the summer in the River Wye. Date: May - September

9) SOLO - Investigation of the Shadowlands Film set and Coldwell Rocks view and Symonds Yat Long Stone. Acent approximately: 150 Meters (492 Ft) - Distance Walked: 12.5 Miles 20KM. Other Deatils: 1 riverside camp, night time run, 3 towns villages, 2 views, 1 return bus journey. Date: 28-29th August.

10) Paul and the Big Swim at Llangorse Lake. Distance Swam: 1.8 Miles 3KM. Other Deatils: A hike by Mark to the event. Date: 26th September.

11) SOLO - Mark and the Llangorse Lake Swim Hike & Bivvy. Ascent approximately: 480 Meters (1,570 Ft) - Distance Walked: 20KM 12 Miles. Other Details: 1 ancient hill fort, 1 horse woman, 1 friendly farmer, 1 bivvy, excellent Llangorse cloud inversion. Date: September.

12) Return to Water Breaks Its Neck in Full Spate and Snow. Ascent approximately: 600 Meters (1,900 Ft). Distance walked: 9 miles 14.5KM. Other Details: Snow, some good people met, Waterfall in full spate and 1 return bus journey. Date: November.

2016 - Wye Explorer adventures so far:

1) SOLO - Paul explored the Severn Estuary in a 'rib rigid inflatable boat'. Courtesy of friend James they traversed Flat Holm Island on the border of the Estuary/Bristol Channel. Distance on Water: 17KM 11 Miles. Other Details: Launched from Cardiff, Landed on Island, spoke with conservation volunteers and recced a wild camp. Date: January 16th. Link

2) RIVER EDW. A cottage stay in Mid Wales exploring the River Edw, its valley and surrounding hills by means of 1 wild camp in addition. Ascent approximately: 450 Meters (1,476 Ft) - Distance Walked: 37Km - 22 miles total over two Sections. Other Details: 1 retreat & Cabin stay, 1 cottage stay, 2 farmers, 1 standing stone, two stone balances, 1 visit from a friend and additional miles walked in the week. Date: 22nd - 31st March.

3) SOLO - Mark exploring the Lower Wye woods from Coleford through to Symonds Yat and then onto Monmouth. 2 nights and 2 wild camps. Ascent: NA. Distance Walked: 18KM - 11 miles. Other Details: 2 wild camps one in a disused loo, two bus journeys, 1 stone balance and plenty of photography.

4) SOLO - Mark exploring the Anghidy River and Lower Wye - Monmouth to Redbrook - Bus to Tintern - Tintern to Angihdy source and on through to Monmouth. Ascent approximately: 400 Meters (1,300 Ft) - Distance Walked: 38 KM - 23 miles. Other Details:2 nights and 2 wild camps,1 short 4 K yomp to Redbrook, 1 friend RV'd with, 1 stone balance, 1 open water swim and 3 bus journeys. Date: 26th-28th May 2016

5) FRIENDS OUTING - Mark and Malcom exploring the Dulas Brook via the Hay Bluff and the feeder brook the Esgyryn. Drive to hay On Wye - Parked (Drover Cycles) Ascent approximately: 470 meters (1,540 Ft) - Distance Walked: 12.2 KM - 7.5 Miles. Other Details: 1 overnight camp, introductions to Drover Cycles and local walkers Mike and Steve, 1 tent reviewed and 1 stone balance. Map Link Date: 20th - 21st Aug

6) 2016 WORLD BOG SNORKELING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Paul Solo participating in the Bog Snorkel at Llanwrtyd Wells in the Cambrian Mountains. Drive to bog venue at Llanwrtyd Wells and a day long stay to cheer Paul and support event. Ascent or Altitude: 200 Meters (650 Ft) - Distance Walked: Marginal. Other Details: Numerous people met with - some international, 7th place gained overall, brief look at Llnwwrtyd Wells for Irfon expedition and exploration of Wye Valley. Map Link

7) RIVER IRFON - CAMBRIAN MOUNTAINS. 3.5 days following the River Irfon a right bank tributary of the Wye in the Cambrian Mountains Wales. Ascent approximately: 445 Meters (1,459 Ft) - Distance Walked: 58.2 KM - 36 miles total over 3.5 days study. Other Details: 1 makeshift bothy overnighter, 1 caravan stay and 2 wild camps and or tent pitches with, in addition, stone balances and numerous discussions with people. Date: 01 - 05 October.

8) RIVER TROTHY - Monmouthshire. 2 days following the River Trothy from source on Campston Hill. It is a right back tributary of the Wye entering it South of Monmouth. Ascent approximately: 400 meters (1, 312 Ft) - Distance Walked: 35.4 KM - 22 Miles. Other Details: 1 stealth camp, 1 urban bivvy, 1 Orange super moon and ancient sites explored. Date: 12 - 14th November

9) DEATH OF FOUNDER MEMBER PAUL JICKELLS - Paul died having contributed a huge amount to the Wye Explorer project. He brought enthusiasm, humour, companionship, ideas and heart to what he felt was a valuable contribution to the culture of the Wye and outdoors in general. His tribute page here reveals what made him tick and thrive as someone who dreamed of all the good in life. Date: 01-07-1968 - 18-11-2016

2017 - Things Have Changed. I Break Back into The Wye By:

1) HUMBER BROOK - Walking the Humber Brook in North Herefordshire a walk founder member Paul Jickells originally arranged. It was a good way of introducing oneself back into the Wye Explorer adventure after nearly 8 months of twin loss. Ascent approximately: 300 meters (984 Ft) - Distance Walked: 35.4 KM - 22 Miles (Same as Trothy). Other details: 1 brook source (see map) 2 camps, 1 waterfall, 2 Kingfishers and 1 historic house/castle. Date: 30th June - 2nd July 2017.

2) River Dore - Situated in the Golden Valley the River Dore was another watercourse founder member of the project Paul Jickells was embarking upon prior to his sudden departure. Ascent approximately: 380 meters (1,246 feet) - Distance Walked: 34 KM - 22 Miles oddly the same as the (Trothy and Humber Brook). Other Details: 1 river source at Golden View Merbach Hill (see map), 3 camps, numerous friends, 3 churches/historic sites and 1 festival. Date: 17th - 19th August 2017.

Current Overview: Consistently Updated - Last Updated (31st July 2017)

Other Details

Approximately 9,700 meters combined - 31,824 feet plus ascended.
47 camps in total throughout the catchment.
5 makeshift shelters made use of. Caravans, sports shelter and toilet.
36 towns and villages passed through and visited.
42 bus and a handful of car journeys taken.
Several rock balance art pieces created or practiced.
4 events attended.

In Between Outings I do of course explore the Wye on a more localised level as I did with my dear brother Paul Left. The Spirit of Adventure Anywhere!

DSC00498 (1024x652)

Paul on the Wye locally during the Autumn 2015

What I'm Going to Do In 2017-18

1) In 2017 break back into the project by exploring numerous other tributaries and or regions of the Wye.
2) In 2019 embark upon a huge challenge to walk the whole catchment for the British Heart Foundation and the project.
3) Encourage as many people to join me (Mark) as is feasibly possible to share in the adventure
whilst promoting healthy living and the outdoors.
4) Walk, swim and canoe the whole of the River Wye as part of that challenge.
5) Camp many more times, improve skills and travel lighter.
6) Learn more about the river system.
7) Create more land and digital art (see this site)
8) Upgrade camera equipment and attain spectacular footage for the record.
9) Work towards a new website acting as an adventure resource for the whole Wye catchment.
10) Explore ideas for events to promote the Wye catchment and its wild offering.

LASTLY, I seek to inspire others as I go through a difficult grieving and bereavement
process. 48 years with your twin is no small thing and so, through healing amid the
outdoors, I feel I can demonstrate how the outdoors can help during such a devastating
loss. It won't always be easy but we honour those we love by, not retreating from life, but
living it well.

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