The river is somewhere in amongst those trees
We’ve always known that there is a river along the lower edge of our land, you can see it clearly on the map, but every attempt to find it in those first few days had failed. Half welly walk proved too over-grown, the bottom of sunshine meadow was too steep with slippery rocks covered in waist high brambles and the wood in the far-away field was like walking through a thicket.
Day three (the 3rd of August). We were determined to find our river. We gathered a packed-lunch, flasks of water, loppers, gardening gloves and walking shoes and made an early start towards the far-away field.
It was a glorious summers day. We steadily made our way down through the buzz of bees and arrived in the shade at the edge of the wood. The first hurdle was how to get over the barbed wire topped fence – just that little bit too high for comfortable straddling. Unclasping the barbed wire from the top of the wire netting below we made enough space to squeeze through. Stepping into the wood proper was like walking into a different world. It looked like it hadn’t felt human feet in decades, if not centuries. Wrens darted about the moss covered branches as we clambered over decaying old tree trunks.
Craig walked with loppers in front, I followed with camera in his foot steps. It didn’t seem right to create a large swathe of disturbed track through the quiet wood. We could hear the river (you can hear it from pretty much all of the land), but couldn’t see it. The only thing to do was to keep heading down. It was slow going with branches and brambles blocking our path. A trickle of a stream to our right indicated that we were on the right track. It also indicated very sodden soil – not good for our walking shoes.
I don’t know how long we were walking. Time seemed to stand still. The sound of the river grew ever louder, but still remained out of sight. Just how big is it? We couldn’t guess.
Afon Sylgen looking downstream
Eventually we reached rockier ground. I couldn’t wait any longer. I nipped around Craig and his careful lopping activities. Peering over the edge of a moss-laden rock I could see the rushing water below. It was moving fast, tumbling over rocks. A surprisingly small amount of water considering the noise! Still we weren’t at the water’s edge. It was now a race to see who could find the quickest route to the river bed. I was first, but only because Craig helped me down a particularly large rock and safely onto slippery stonier ground.
We’d made it. It was awesome. We walked along the river chatting about where we’ll put a wildlife watching hide and wondering whether it would get washed away after a torrential downpour. Looking up, the moss, lichen and fern covered branches were incredible, like some kind of Celtic rainforest. We are truly lucky to have this paradise so close.