Next to the White Castle wood at the top of the hill was an ideal flat spot facing the Skirrid, Sugar Loaf and Black Mountains. Not to be outdone a real treat emerged to the left of the Skirrid in the form of a sunset dropping low beyond the mighty Blorenge. Paul and I had walked the Blorenge some time ago and having communed with the Suagr Loaf, Black Mountains, the rivers Monnow and Honddu in addition we knew the night was going to be full of the best of what we loved about this land. We knew also that part of the ‘super moon’ was going to emerge later. Quit how it was going to look was subject to speculation however. With that thought in mind we set up camp, had a bite to eat and went off to explore the castle to our rear.
The night was drawing in but there was still a bit of sunlight left, which was glinting from behind the Blorenge that obscured the mining town of Brynmawr behind its mass. The castle was well preserved even more so than Skenfrith and or Grosmont that together with White Castle make up the ‘Three Castles walk.’ Enthralled by its outer baily and moat we reflect for a moment on how the Normans gained control of North Gwent via the three castles this one of which was once covered in white rendering hence its name White Castle. Dating as far back as the 12th century it stands shrunken yet feels strong to this day. The voices of its turbulent past echo contrastingly in this tranquil November evening, which would not have been foreign to the military occupants in its hay day. Time simply can stand still it appears although the voices of a modern family in the distance and that of our own say something very different.
Meeting with the mother of the family, Jessica, who is with two adorable children waiting for her husband or partners return, we chat with animated tones at the entrance to the inner baily. It’s a wonderful occasion us five together as there is a trust and knowing that only kindred spirits can foster. She and they feel safe and as Paul shouts out, “Daaayyyo,” to invoke a response amid the towering walls inside the inner baily our connection is affirmed upon one of the children copying him in a way that only a tiny happy infant can. It was beautiful and sweet.
Back at camp we settle for the evening making brews and walking off into the night to talk with ourselves or just to stand still to listen to the quietness and the distant sounds of owls, foxes or the domestic life that’s been forever played out in these parts. It sure is restful once more as the atmosphere imbues our beings with the comfort that only the vibration of love instils when in its presence. We’re so fortunate we feel to be spending such a clear, quite starry night together during such a cosmic time as a near full ‘super moon.’
As the temperature drops amid the stillness of the night I drift off in and out of sleep as Paul does. Mindful of the event and evening unfolding though I awake to see a large moon infused with a deep rich orange glow descending beyond the Skirrid. “Hey Paul take a look at this moon.” I shout out across the way. He’s awake and is not long in enjoying the spectacle with me. “Ahh, it’s amazing Mark; truly awesome,” He replies. We both lay there silent for at-least an hour at four in the morning in our own bags, our own beautiful minds and brilliant imaginings. It’s perfect! Without doubt it’s a special moment amid the Trothy below, which I partially capture by way of photographing our tents lit up in the presence of the Pleiades star cluster above in addition.
Come morning the whole mountain scene in front of us is bathed in a brilliant sunrise as there is no cloud inversion or mist to be seen anywhere. Everything from the mountain ridges through to the trees and houses are enflamed in the golden glow of a pristine morning signifying the dawn of a day that’s set to be a joy with every step we take. Starting with the White Castle viewed the previous evening the time spent here reminds us that something as simple as the River Trothy can ignite within a wonder for life akin to anything as grand as the Himalaya. It truly was an epic sight that anybody can immerse themselves in if they just take a moment to greet it. Looking at the castle for the last time and photographing the sunrise around it we head off towards Llantilio Crossenny full of a vision cosmic in scale. Our hearts sing to the ecstasies of our life on this the Trothy Trail.
As I walk I think the spectacle we’ve both just enjoyed. ‘Life sure can be illusory,’ I think to myself. ‘I mean here is a spectacle that’s the most beautiful and magical of all yet down in the valleys below are farmers, families and individuals who no doubt struggle as they seek to negotiate the complexities of their own lives at the start of what’s an inspiring day.’ Amongst the beauty, it’s all being played out obscured, in the main, from common view. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this magical realm. Far from it! It’s important to remove ourselves from that which causes us anxiety of which Paul and I still experience also beyond this wonder.
Many historic features catch the eye on the trail: it’s one of the best parts of hiking long distance. Here at the junction from White Castle to Llantilio Crosseny on the B4223 we come across a moated feature that’s no exception in the form of the old moated site Hen Gwrt. Blink in a car and you’d miss it entirely but it is, in fact, a memorial site belonging to the bishops of Llandaff in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. There is no denying the distinct moated shape that now serves as a still water filled reminder of these powerful Celtic Christians who were allied to the Roman Catholic church.
We both ponder its current idyllic nature and significance for a moment but like any trail in life we quickly let go of the Bishops reverberations passing through the peaceful village reaching the pretty Trothy valley beyond. There as we sing ‘Surplus People’ we’re reminded of RDF two nights before. It sounds kind of militant and anti-establishment but in truth speaks of how people are indeed discarded in the world a fact that reveals itself in UK and global poverty daily. Support and empathy therefore is at its route, which we extol as we smile, sing and skank in this a solitary river valley.
Happy we’ve sung for the people I walk on whilst Paul stops for relief. Reaching the base of a steep incline I look up at the hill and then back towards Paul who is gesturing ‘there – there.’ I look but cannot see anything. A few moments later I learn that a fox had made its way between me and the river within yards. It took a gamble to reach rough scrub beyond not being able to cross the river or go back on account of Paul. I missed the sneaky fox!
Half way up the hill I glance back and think of the fox and the opportunity to film missed. Perhaps another will present itself I think. At the top, we discuss a potential fox hide in a tree that’s been dug out at its base then pit stop just a few yards above looking out through the wooded hill that now presents an enchanting splintered view of the Blorenge, Skirrid and Black Mountains in the distance. We’ve come a fair way since yesterday.
Moving across and around the hill without ascent Paul veers off having spotted something again. There in the fields way below is a fox making its way keenly out of our sphere of influence. A different one or the same? We’re not sure but it’s always invigorating as they are indeed one of our wild mammals often secretive and stealthy as its just proven to be. So, a glimpse is a thrill as it often is on the streets of Hereford late at night. We never tire of foxes – they’re simply beautiful but being predatory we understand they are a pain to farmers with livestock such as sheep who have perhaps newly lambed, which is a scenario that's been born out during other hikes most specifically the Honddu river walk through the Black Mountains in the spring of 2015 we’re not naïve.
Starting up in the interior of the renowned Hay Bluff the skirting road of which saw Jack and his friend get dropped off in the ‘The American Werewolf in London,’ the Honddu river walk revealed some of the best of the river and the Vale of Ewyas, which it flows through. A long winding valley, which offers one of the best scenic drives in Britain we ended up at its Southerly far end staying the night in front of an abandoned mountain cottage. It was old, weathered, gnarly and worn with a stone wall in front, which Paul used to pitch the tarp. Discussing its age, soaking up its ambience and resilience in the face of its appearance we relinquish all notions of where we have come from or where we are having to go back to. In the moment, there is complete satisfaction and freedom. We are Nomads once more and as happy as can be.
Trothy - Wye Tributary
22 miles total Sat 12th - 14th Nov 2016
Source Grid Ref: 369 - 220. 4 interactive
I didn’t see Paul all night apart from a glimpse of him on the far side of the dance floor having a right old time next to the sound system. We had come to the Booth Hall in Hereford to dance to the sounds of RDF or the Radical Dance Faction a dub outfit allied to the traveller and or squat scene. There sound is and was often epic taking us on a journey akin to the best ranging voyage. The weekend was starting well for tomorrow we find the Trothy source. It’s sure to be as awesome!
Making our way up towards Great Campston from Pandy the three of us are once again relaxed amid the narrow roads and lanes on the Herefordshire- Monmouthshire border. We check the map a few times along the way eventually pulling the car up alongside Grieg Lodge. Stepping out into a still fresh misty morning Paul is drawn to the cow shed where classical music emanating from the shed is heard. Turning to me with joyous yet wry smile and a comment regarding its eccentricity I’m amused enough to ask Erica what the music is to which she replies, “Speak, Softly Love the Godfather theme tune.” The livestock it appears are enjoying a classic tune courtesy of the farmer. It’s turning out to be quit a musical start to the Trothy hike what with RDF and the Last Tree Squad the night before.
Heading out back of Grieg Lodge where we leave the car momentarily we’re struck by what a magical morning it is. It’s full mist immersion as the three of us pick our way through the maze of fields. Without landmarks to guide us amid the mist we feel our way at an ambling sort of pace as we don’t want to make a mistake or miss the beauty of Campston Hill bathed in its white grey moisture laden cloud. The sound is pure, still and resonates with the exchange of our contented voices and that of the pastoral hills the perfume of which gently breezes inside.
Soon we reach what looks to be a fork formed by two rivulets or brooks. There a large channel is formed flowing South, which is clearly marked on the map. We correlate the feature with the map, discuss it and satisfied we declare this to be the source of the Trothy. It’s simple quite beauty conceals its connection to the Wye 30 miles further downstream as there is no sign post announcing its association. Standing there we enjoy the stillness and the deep hollow surrounded by an enchanting copse that offers a vision of time often associated with water and land. It must have taken thousands of years to carve out this channel and we now become a part of its story paying our respects to it as we do.
With sweet gums courtesy of Erica stowed away in our sacks we continued to talk about the morning and the night previous before setting off on our hike. I coined it ‘a reggae ramble,’ to which Paul said, “skanking.” Without hesitation Erica joined in with the word ‘syncopated.’ Which I found very stimulating. Saying good bye to Erica as we literally stood over the Trothy source Paul made one last gesture with a wave saying, “See you later,” as if reaching for a ball in full flight.
Parasol mushrooms were in abundance as we headed off over Campston Hill, which nearly always stimulate conversation about wild edibles. It felt liberating to be out breathing in the rhythm of nature once more as twin brothers seemingly with the spirit of young boys for company. It was wet underfoot making the bottoms of our trousers customarily sodden, which we do not mind at all as it signifies healthy living by our estimation.
Walking up to the Campston Hill plateau via some old Oaks standing sentinel I look back East 4KM to admire Edmunds Tump or Craig Syfyrddin at 423 meters. In the wet low clouds of the morning it appeared sullen yet majestic speaking silently of our time on the river Monnow as it stood inviting our continued gaze. There on its other side Paul and I walked the Upper Dyffryn (300 meters) some two years before from the North. Looking South West as we reached the top we commented on what an impressive interior it presented from that vantage point. With Paul feeding water to a comatose sheep lay on its side on top thereupon it was a good memory of the Monnow that was both tender and exciting. ‘We sure have been about these parts,’ I thought to myself.
On top of Campston hill we are greeted by yet more spectacular views. The Trothy source and hike is turning out to be a surprise in terms of vistas. There to our front or South was the Skirrid or ‘Holy Mountain’ whilst to our West stood the Sugar Loaf peering over the hills of Wern Clifford and Llanvihangal Crucorny where Wales’s oldest public house resides the Skirrid Inn not far from the River Honddu, which we had traversed in 2015 from the Hay Bluff interior. We love this land and it feels as much a part of us as it does any Welshman it being on the borders of both Monmouthshire and Herefordshire. We breathe it in eagerly invoking visons of a grand life inside for its these shapes, forms, colours, sounds and smells that ignites within our passion for long distance walking as do the diverse array of place names and settlements. It tells a story and to that ongoing story we submit our own part in it. Paul and I are totally connected in this and in no doubt of what we love. This feeling is continually shared between us with no hindrance or barriers, which is fuel enough to continue seeking more stimulating affirmations of life.
When affirming life strange and wonderful things seem to be attracted to you including, as in our case, a herd of sheep reflecting the shape of the mountain in front of us but behind them. Usually they head off in the opposite direction but not now as we stand gazing at them from a gate at the base of Campston Hill South. Initially, they approach slowly from upon the horizon moving and jostling to finally arrive at a formation that’s like a shadow of the skirrid that you might expect to be cast by the sun like on a sundial. Indeed, the Skirrid is all about shape and form as it shows itself to be diverse in appearance from whatever angle you look at it. From some directions, you see the ridge, from others lumps from the two separated parts that emerged during the ice age and from afar it can appear like a peak. On this occasion though it’s the sheep adding some shape and form to it. There canny oddness inspires a comical exchange before moving on towards the 13th century Hunters Moon Inn at Llangattock Lingoed for a brew.
Approaching the Inn, we’re enthusiastic to find out what kind of a place lay upon our way. As I enter I’m not disappointed to find a roaring fire amid a room with a low roof juxtaposed by its original stone floor. Immediately I like it and as I look about at the exposed stone walls, the yard ale fixed proudly above one table and décor, which speaks of a deeply rural existence I turn my attention to the assistant a bubbly young student of Bangor who emerges from another room to the rear.
Having entered just after me I had already ordered a brew, which I allowed Paul to know as he too took to the Inn. What a treat as it finally arrives contained within the finest polka dot tea pot hikers could ask for. A few cups of tea later, a crisp or two and a fabulous chat with the assistant and the elderly English owner who joined us later we’re ready to get going on the ‘Trothy Trail’ again.
Up the road I admire a stone white washed house the thickly tiled roof of which is not high for a 1 story building. With a central chimney looking almost like a church the walls are thick indicating an age akin to early medieval. Across the way, I see a chap whom I am keen to chat with as Paul meanders on slowly down the road. “Alright mate.” I say. “Do you know what this house once was?” He turns to me after finishing some tidying up on his drive way and replies by saying, “It was a forge and dates back to about the 13-14th century.” I gaze at it as he speaks glancing over to him to engage in conversation. Bidding him goodbye I’m pleased I asked. It’s all it takes to know a little more on your hike.
Catching up with Paul we both stop for a moment to check out the map at a fork in the road near Crossway Cottages. Quickly we decide to go left, which takes us down a nice long straight road passed Little Pool Hall then onto the junction with the ‘Three Castles’ walk at Pont Gilbert. We turn left here at the T Junction in the road and pass a local landed type as we cross a bridge over the Trothy to reach a public right of way that will take us up the hill to White Castle our next stop. Before continuing on Paul wants to affirm if that was indeed the Trothy we crossed over siting that it’s important to orientate our walk because it’s the Trothy we’re here to be mindful. I assure him it’s the Trothy but he just wants to know what route the river will be taking as we scale the hill so that he can hold it within his mind. He’s with it all the way.
Great Trerhew Mill is of particular interest as we start our way upward. Situated beside a brook that feeds the Trothy the water mill supplied flour to the White Castle. Remnants remain on a site that’s been used for milling for 800 years. It’s interesting to note how the entire area would have once worked symbiotically with the fortification higher up the hill just like military or administrative bases today.
Later during that night, we hear shotgun fire in the distant valley. It rings out in the pitch black of night making known a conflict, which we gather to be between farmer and fox almost in an instant. With only the memory of the stealthy activity the night before we break camp in the morning to steadily walk down into the valley by way of an ancient trackway, which leads to a farm. It’s quite so we pass through equally as distant not alerting anyone to our presence but comfortable. With a lane ambled down amid the early morning of the Black mountains there, beyond a gate, we see a freshly killed fox lay on its side. Shot once it was Lamped for sure! Beautiful as it was it served as a reminder of the realities with regards man and nature. The battle between the two continues.
Paul takes a different shot of the moving fox this time with a camera. He manages to capture a small image but it’s not website quality. Still it’s a recollection of our time on a hill we’ve never been acquainted with before.
Soon we reach a large orchard that emerges first in sight and then in damp November sent. These are places that always bring back that rural sense of wellbeing and of a childhood spent scrumping apples in Herefordshire another county famed for its orchards. Paul and I are visibly contented as we reach the fringes of the orchard defined by a fence and thin copse debating, as we do, the direction in which to take. Paul insists on a route with a somewhat emphatic tone saying, “I assure you Mark that it’s this way.” It turns out to be correct as I later predict the exit out of the orchard in an equally emphatic and obliging way, “Over there Paul that’s the exit. Yeah without doubt that’s the public right of way we’re looking for.” Once again, we work together well as we discuss simultaneously a trail run or two in the orchard.
With more hill climbing to come beyond the orchard we take it steady before reaching the Crest of a hill that offers uninterrupted views from Mid Monmouthshire right through to the Central Brecon Beacons. It’s spectacular! We haven’t the money or the resources to go hiking in far flung destinations around the world but this is proving to be yet another classic hike in our Wye Explorer odyssey. Our appreciation for the Wye catchment and its neighbouring natural wonders such as the Brecon Beacons is enhanced with each mile we walk. Our cells are filling up with visions of a region in the UK previously unforeseen before the hike instilling, as each vision is assimilated, a sense of place that only time invested can bestow you. We are blessed for sure.
Further on we reach a quite back country road that offers yet more views only this time East into the wooded interior of Monmouthshire. Quietly the Offa’s Dyke trail has been with us for a while, which we find interesting having walked sections of it before. We get another sense of what it might be like to complete as we see below the Trothy passing by the Hamlet and church of Llanfiangel Ystum Llewern the latter of which dates back to the 16th century. Glancing at it we think that maybe there is a chance of a brew but it proves later not to be suitable.
Life is good as unexpected surprises are never far away, which is proven yet again as Paul suddenly veers off the road through a gate at the bottom of the hill and into a field where a dilapidated red brick barn stands with contents emphasising eerily the areas link to apples and orchards. Paul opens the creaky black wooden door and steps in as I walk to its North Easterly side peering through what was once a window to see Paul stood admiringly over a cider press. “Far out just check out the age of this thing,” I say to myself under my breath. With that I’m heading for the door on the other side of the barn. Squeezing through I’m catapulted into a nether world of cider production that must stretch back some 200 years at least as this thing is clearly ancient festooned in thick cobwebs and the effluence of livestock as it is. We’re both fascinated as we scan every part of it with steps that are intentional and deliberate. We want to soak it all up and not miss a thing.
Down the road past Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern we are still talking about the press. “What a find Paul says.” I agree with him going so far as to praise his astuteness by way of saying, “It was your intuition Paul. Good on you for leading us in there.” It’s no effort praising my brother for he’s a great hiking buddy full of his own wanderings that’s imbued me with the magic of life on more than one occasion as in this case.
Turning right at a T Junction as we head for Hendre Farm some 2 KM East the ambient still afternoon urges Paul to get his Harmonica and Jews harp out. It’s a surprising welcome sound as it speaks of, not only the soothing nature of our saunter down the road, but yet again of the magic of our time together in what is deep Monmouthshire countryside. Slow and languid the sound of Paul’s Harmonica resounds for a moment amid the rustle of our symbiotic movement that’s the result of an acquiescent pace, boots, jackets and heavy packs. We both love it as we’re jettisoned into another moment of divine brotherhood as the Harmonica plays.
It’s all good vibes on this hike as we reach Hendre Farm via Grace Dieu Abbey to our left, white horned livestock and a tricky gate conjoined to a tree that Paul eventually manages to open. Attracted by the offer of a site to pitch for the night Paul ushers me into a part of Hendre that serves as a B&B uttering, “Eyar are up ere, let’s see if we can pitch somewhere.” I follow as I always do if a reasonable suggestion is made and we end up in a yard with a main house, outbuildings to our left and what looks to be a café or place to gather for backpackers. We knock on the door of the house but to no avail. Curious Paul drifts off to the rear of the outbuildings shouting, “Hey Mark check this out.” I investigate eagerly to find a shed full of caged domestic rabbits as though in a battery farm. “They’re breeding em,” I say to Paul. The vibe all of a sudden has changed from one of magic and wonder to one of concern at the commercial Rabbit business we see before us. “Maaan all these bunny’s Paul, they don’t originate from such an angelic looking place, do they?” I mutter as we mooch about. “No mate, not at all,” Paul replies.
We decide to get going and not hang about for fear of some strange and guarded individual emerging out of the Rabbit under world. Down the road, we bump into another backpacker with some light gear who’s hiking the Offa’s Dyke trail, which we happen to still be on. We stop to talk as you do when you come across a fellow hiker. “Alright mate,” Paul says with a friendly engaging tone. Looking at us both with some surprise the man replies with, “Hellooo,” in a twang that’s distinctly foreign. Stopping almost instantly Paul enjoys the coming together listening to the Dutchman’s plans for a stealth camp and his hike all the way up to North Wales via awesome border country. Not one for missing an opportunity Paul shares with him our hikes of the Wye rivers, which started a few years before. Dressed in hiking shoes as opposed to boots whilst sporting tight spandex designed for power walking the Dutchman appears genuinely interested as he says, “Thank you, I will take a look when I get back home to Holland.” We’re not sure if he will and neither are we concerned because the exchange was pleasant enough.
With friendly vibes generated on the trail and a good job done we find ourselves walking beside the Southerly boundary of Teltale Wood before reaching Kings Wood where we settle down for a brew on a sheltered bench that’s part of a shooting range. On the way, the late Autumn exploded into a dazzling array of colours imbuing us with yet more good energy. Colour is the language of life as is sound. Indeed, not one of us is beyond their influence so we take the time to absorb the myriad of colours that correlate with the psychedelic portions of ourselves as we listen simultaneously to the peaceful chorus of the wood.
A short while later we find a shooting range where we take a brief pit stop. We sit together again alone in this wood – this shooting range that offers us a haven like space. Gazing down the length of the range and chatting for a short while it’s time to go once more so we set off on what’s the latter stages of our hike.
Passing through Kings Wood West of Monmouth we get glimpses South West towards the Welsh Valley towns of Pontypool and Cwmbran that are surrounded by the high hills of Mynydd Llwyd and Maan at almost 500 meters (1,600 Ft). With the seemingly flattish lands of the Usk Valley below it strikes us as an impressive vista worthy of a sit down somewhere in the pleasant evening light. After walking down an enchanting lengthy grove to an opening we spot a lone oak on the side of the hill above Tolocher Farm/Hotel and Little Mag Wood. We sit literally for 3 or 4 minutes soaking up what lay before us to satisfy our appetite for a pleasant life as we know we’re nearing the end of what’s been one of the most magical of times together albeit 2 days.
With our hiker heads on once more we’re satisfied as we hit the road towards Monmouth. We’ve got about 2KM into the town, the pace of which varies according to who’s dictating it. Paul likes to amble a lot of the time whereas I find myself speeding up to his displeasure. On this occasion, I feel we find a good balance as we get to the edge of town and the OS Smith Tri Wall factory that produces packaging solutions for all manner of products. On this occasion, it produces on its office steps another brief moment to take in a vista different to all the others; that of an urban night time scene before locating the Trothy Confluence with the Wye 2KM East.
Skirting the Over Monnow estate and crossing over the busy A40 freeway below Troy Farm and House emerges that’s spread out beside the right bank of the Trothy. It’s night time but knowing where I’m heading I provide Paul with some assurances, “I know where this is Paul. I’ve been here before earlier on in the year. Remember me telling you about that awesome 16th house?” With loud traffic rumbling around us, he replies, “Yeah I do. You lead I’ll follow then.” A bit worn out by this time we leave the highway descending a single-track road towards the river and farm as we do.
Initially we walk through a gate, past some rubble and begin crossing the fields but this proves to be problematic as its mucky beneath our feet and we don’t exactly know where the river is. So, we back track 5o yards or so, exit the field and head left for the bridge where the rivers whereabouts is proven. To the side of its left bank is a field, which suggest a river traverse to the confluence, so we take it. Exalted we’re on the right trajectory we begin to follow the sound of the river in the pitch of the night, which is exhilarating to the senses.
As I walk I think about my hike some months before where I had met Dave Noakeswalker a private local outdoorsman further South near Tintern. Then, having walked the River Angiddy, I reached the farm from its rear not knowing what to expect but was surprised to find an ancient place thick with dilapidation, filth and what looked to be depression although, in fact, it’s an organic dairy farm. I could tell it was an important place in its day and somewhat feudal what with longstanding worker dwellings and Troy house to its front.
The house itself once belonged to Blanche Milborne, Lady Herbert of Troy of the Herbert family of the formidable Raglan Castle. I can’t see it but I can feel its presence still, which induces within me an appreciation of the areas former grandeur whilst bringing forth a pleasant memory of some months before. With that the river asserts itself once more via its slow trickle of a sound below, which is perennial and timeless in this a night that heightens perception without 20/20 vision. Paul’s in front tracking it also amid a field of wet cabbages typical of arable land. This is great we feel as we rustle our way through the wet cabbage towards the confluence with a call or two to confirm our whereabouts although for the most part we spot each other’s headlamps. Where’s he gone? I think to myself. “Hey Paul where are you man?” I shout out loud. With a voice that bellows equally through the night time field I catch, “I’m over ere.” I suggest to him he follows me. “This way Paul, there’s a fence ere.” With that we’re both homeward bound for the confluence, which is but 200 meters away.
The presence of the parent channel the Wye and the Trothy’s connection to it is uniquely palpable as we head for the confluence. The unique clarity was because the pitch black of the night made their connection emerge in a way that was felt rather than seen. We had to hone in as though using sonar. It’s a very different visual, which enabled the connection of the waters to be projected without distraction from anything else in the landscape. Scrambling through a small riverside copse the confluence emerged and there at this enigmatic night time joining together of two rivers were two swans and two twin brothers. The sheer power of this curious private meeting made us feel very exalted as if a gift had been bestowed simple as it was with two swans and two rivers as the main ingredients. Quit what the swans thought and felt about us is anyone’s guess. Having said this, we came from off the trail in peace, which is a vibration any sentient life can discern. We chat to our friends and bidding them goodbye we make way for Monmouth beyond.
The next morning after a bivvy in Monmouth we headed off back over the river to check out the Monmouth showground stopping on an iron lattice bridge for a brew. Having had a cool time at the showground mapping out an event stage we came back the same way we had come, spoke with a friendly fishermen and then caught the bus from Monmouth to Hereford. It was a great way to spend my time with a brother who, later that week, die whilst training hard in the swimming pool. It was the last ever hike with Paul. This page and others associated with the Trothy is in memory of my dear twin Paul.