A and I decided to ditch our travel plans to Italy - we didn't fancy the airports, queues and stress. Instead we hired a car, threw a rucksack in it and headed out on the Westway and A40 ...to the Wild West. Out west towards three Shires - Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire - the border of England and Wales.
We arrived at our destination. A campsite deep in the countryside...
with a small gathering of Sioux Indian tipis... all locally made in the traditional style, alongside Mongolian yurts (Hobbit houses). They inhabit a little 11 acre ancient woodland and grassland valley with views across the Malvern Hills. Silence and acres of woodland, meadows, farmland and the all important Rights of Way through farmland and fields.
and a kitchen with a fridge (0ne per tipi) and ovens, and a clay oven for pizza baking too...and hot showers!
The stunningly beautiful River Wye carves a 25 mile stretch through a valley nestled between those shires. We admired a tiny section from the 16th century Inn, watching a man pull groups of hikers across the river from east to west using a wire and a wooden pont.
The Saracens Head from which we admired the view above. Henry V who fought off the Saracens at Agincourt was born in Monmouth, a small town on the border of England and Wales about 10 miles up the road
We took a canoe down a 9 mile stretch of the calm river in between sunshine and clouds reflecting in the water. I wish we could have taken more pics to truly show it's beauty but being new to canoes we were focused on staying afloat and keeping the camera dry.
With only the sheep to see us get tangled up in the willow tree boughs at the water's edge when we bumped over the shallow "rapids". Bit tricky actually!
The next day we followed the instructions nailed to a tree in the woodland. Ready made tracks originally built for the previous owners huskies sledging practice loop the woodland floor. We followed one round to the Oak tree and out into the top field.
The Oak Tree
The public Right of Way across the farmland. You could hear the seeds on the newly harvested fields "popping" in the warm September sunshine. Not something we hear every day in London.
Hedgerows packed with blackberries, haws, rosehips and overhung with elderberries lined the tiny country lane at the bottom of the fields.
The New Harp Inn under a Horse Chestnut tree, served over 80 different kinds of beers, ciders and a delicious local rose wine. Yes England and Wales make fine white and rose wines these days.
It was lovely trecking back to our Tipi, cosily laid out with sheepskin rugs, a raised mattress and a wood burning stove inside with kettle and mini camping stove for a morning cuppa.
The campsite has a few tables under canvas, with old jam jars with fresh wild flowers, tealights and lanterns. So quiet and peaceful.
Outside we had a firepit and a BBQ and a view into the woodland at sunset.
We took long walks in the countryside and hired bikes to take in the beauty of the magnificent Royal Forest of Dean. Miles and miles of forest and tracks for mountain bikes or a casual ride through. We opted for the latter.
Miles of tall and green. Ancient woodland and tall pines
Fluffy mushrooms and flat wet chestnut coloured ones..
I foraged for berries and collected handfuls of these ....
We parked our bikes up and slurped on some local cider in our picnic cooler
In the evening we walked to the local hamlet for dinner..
The pretty hamlet
The candlelit interior, stone floors and chatty locals
A wonderful dinner, all local produce
Watching A build another fire. He loved building them and I loved watching. Listening to it crackle in the silence around us. An English fairyland meets Sioux Indian living. It was all very perfect really.