Castle upon Alun, 7th April

Lead: Graham

“We’ll keep to the lanes, it’ll be dry there”, was the mantra as seven of us set off from the Village Hall on an alternative walk occasioned by the earlier terrible weather.  Having reconnoitred the scheduled route from Chepstow four days previously, which even then was rather wet and muddy I decided, as leader for the day, that the heavy overnight rain would have made ground conditions there far too glutinous for a pleasant day’s walk.  Everyone being in agreement we set off in high spirits – the rain having stopped – along Heol Fain heading for Castle upon Alun when we were confronted by the first of many floods.  This was negotiated with care, the water being only three or four inches deep, as was the second inundation, and we reached Heol Shwlac still with dry feet.

As the day warmed we could see steam rising from sodden fields like distant camp fires but we were forced to lower our eyes for more careful paddling before descending past Coed y Bwl nature reserve into the Alun valley.  Here things soon became more precarious with flowing water on the road approaching the ford which was deep enough in places to over-top our boots.  Halting near the stepping stones, which were invisible under the raging River Alun, we took coffee and stared in admiration as two horse riders braved the ford crossing where the water was up to the bellies of their mounts.

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After the group photograph we discussed a possible alternative route via the quarry but were thwarted by floods too extensive to negotiate so had to retrace our steps through deepening water and up the hill to Castle upon Alun Farm.

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The waterproof qualities of our boots were again tested and later, a little way down the lane towards Clemenstone, we were confronted by a flood so deep that, in the absence of wellingtons, we were forced to creep along the narrow muddy verge.  The track now became a rushing stream but we reached our lunch stop at the old well with only a few damp feet.  From there, excitement over, we strolled back to Wick where we arrived after over six eventful miles of walking along “dry” lanes!  Certainly a walk to remember and thanks to all participants who with good humour appeared to enjoy the experience – and no muddy boots to clean.