We have passed through and visited the Symonds Yat area of the Welsh & English borders on numerous occasions over the years but on this occasion it was in response to a suggestion made by a friend. She was a fan of the movie 'Shadowlands', which was a film about C.S Lewis and Joy Gresham starring Anthony Hopkins and Deborah Winger. Mark said he would walk the area for her. So off he went exploring an area made famous by views and now film.
The old barn, which featured in the movie is now a holiday cottage called Shadowlands Holiday Cottage that has been sensitively restored by the Bowens at Court Farm in English Bicknor. What a site and what a place to spend an inspiring few days or week.
There on its doorstep is the River Wye, Which snakes passed the impressive Coldwell Rocks and Yat Rock further down. If your approaching from Lydbrook it's an interesting jaunt that follows the course of the river until you reach Bowens Meadow where the cottage now is (also see film below).
Whatever your views country sport is big business. From fishing estates with their own ghillies that tend to the needs of their visitors through to pheasant shoots with specialist game keepers keeping an eye on the stock country sport is alive and well in the Wye Valley. Indeed, with beat managers along certain stretches of the Wye it's a regional and community affair in addition.
In the Bowen Meadow area below Coldwell Rocks, or the area in which Mark hiked through and bivvied (without permission-thank you), there were numerous country sport activities being prepared or enjoyed. Sporting rights it appeared included fishing and a pheasant Shoot. It was a hive of activity as walkers and trail runners enjoyed the area in addition.
Movie Culture & Real Life
ENJOY The Outdoors
Symonds Yat and Coldwell Rocks is an area in South Herefordshire and North West Gloucestershire on the edge of the Forest of Dean. Characterized by broadleaf woodland and deep gorges it is an outdoor destination attracting people from all over the UK to Kayak, Climb, Wild camp and simply to relax.
The Surrounding Area
Allowing the photos and videos to speak here is the preferred option to writing loads. But a quick overview of the area would not go a miss considering its inspirational nature.
WOODLAND & RIVER
The woodland in the area is thick and made up of a mixture of oak, beech, ash, lime and many other tree species. As a resource the woodland in the Lower Wye has in times gone by given rise to industry. However, today the woodland is seen as a key element in biodiversity and wildlife rather than a pure resource to exploit although it still has a commercial value. Biodiversity has always been appreciated and still is amid the worlds busyness. It's the detail here that matters. In these Riparian woods there are Horseshoe bats, dormice, fritillary butterflies and other rare species that depend on the woods for their survival. In turn the birds thrive, the raptors and the fish via the dead fall and insect life that permeates the river. Indeed, the core woods of the Lower Wye Valley are now regarded as one of the most important concentrations of ancient, semi-natural woodland in Britain. For more read on..
The geology is that of the Devonian and Carboniferous periods where Sandstone and limestone meet. The limestone of the Carboniferous period is made up of plant and organic material. These can be seen in the cliffs of Coldwell and Symonds Yat as well as in the gorges. In addition, the lowlands that meet with the limestone region of the Wye are formed from Red Sandstone, which is sedimentary and due to seas compacting matter over time. For more go to the AONB website who do a good job of explaining it all.
COUNTRY SPORT & TOURISM
Stargazing, Climbing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Wild Swimming, Camping, Cycling, Hiking, Bush craft, Relaxation, Healing, Trail Running, Football and art spanning all manner of disciplines thrives in the Symonds Yat and Wye Gorges area.
We have not mentioned music, cafe culture and riverside bars that entertain the many thousands of people that visit the area each year. The Wye Valley, its nature, its biodiversity is a blessing and an asset that sustains many lives. Indeed, as you hike through the area or even stay one cannot ignore the fact that it's the river in addition to the woodland that is the attraction. Couple this with the majestic topography of the area and you get one of the UK's most attractive outdoor destinations that's, not a mountain or mountain range, but a forested environment that's routed in the water that flows through it. Was it a joy to hike and bivvy? You bet it was!
Back to The Shadowlands
After a one-night bivvy Mark explores the Shadowlands Cottage and view as shown in the film starring Deborah Winger and Anthony Hopkins. It was meant to represent the Golden Valley in Herefordshire but is in fact a valley adjacent to Symonds Yat, which is below Coldwell Rocks and Yat Rock. We start the film on the Wye Valley Walk and along Bowens Meadow an impressive valley walk approaching Coldwell Rocks. Hope you enjoy the small adventure. For video 2 see link here.