The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads

With our movements restricted to home these past weeks, I have been reminiscing about days gone by when holidays were very much on our minds at this time of the year. The excitement of picking and choosing our next vacation was taken for granted and in particular my mind was drawn back to our family visits to East Anglia and in particular the Norfolk Broads.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, more commonly known as the Norfolk Broads, became part of my life as far back as 1976. Following a discussion with two married friends, my wife and I were invited to join them for a cruising holiday along with our two young children then aged just 6 years and 3 years. A handful you may ask – what with six of us on board a 6 berth cruiser with water all around us, and never having experienced this type of holiday before?

Challenging, yes, but with a whole two weeks of fine weather, in an area of the country teaming with wildlife, we fell in love with East Anglia and its flat terrain and endless skies. We found so much to do with navigating our way around 125 miles of inland waterways, walking the footpaths, visiting the small villages and hamlets, not to mention entertaining and supervising two young children. This love affair, 300 miles from home has lasted for the rest of our lifetime and we returned to ‘The Broads’ many times over the ensuing years. Culminating with my wife and I, purchasing a Broads cruiser and owning it for 10 years. Before I expand on these many visits and our own cruiser, let me give you some insight into the history of The Broads and what they actually comprise of.

The Broads are a series of large lakes and 7 rivers that navigate through eastern Norfolk and Suffolk. They were the result of flood surges over the centuries, but closer inspection by conservationists determined that the lakes were actually manmade peat diggings going back to medieval times. In those days East Anglia was the most populated part of England with many large monasteries and abbeys supporting the spread of Christianity. There were in fact over 150 churches and Norwich was the second most populated city after London. Indeed records at Norwich Cathedral, taken from that time show that in one year alone, 400,000 divots of peat were delivered from these cuttings to the Cathedral. Since that time the diggings have flooded thus creating the large lakes or Broads that we see and use for leisure and wildlife preservation today. There are over 60 Broads altogether, many non-navigable and the preserve of conservationists with a wonderful selection of wildfowl, insects and birds.

The navigable Broads are of various sizes, some as large as four miles long and over a mile wide. Many are the home of local sailing clubs and Regatta’s are part of the sailing calendar every year. A sight to behold is the annual August bank holiday Regatta at Barton Broad on the river Ant. Observe a sea of sails, with yachts racing and tacking to arrive first over the finishing line. These Broads, however, remain open to visitors and hire craft. It was on Barton Broad that Admiral Lord Nelson learnt to sail, having been brought up in Burnham Thorpe.

As well as The Broads, the navigable waterways consist of seven rivers: four main rivers, the Bure, Yare, Waveney and Wensum and three smaller tributaries, the

Ant, Thurne and Chet. The Norfolk Broads are landlocked and not linked to any other of the English inland waterways. All are tidal and the effects of the tides are quite significant, particularly the closer you are to the estuary at Yarmouth. Here you can enter the North Sea, not recommended for inland cruisers and prohibited to hire craft. There are no locks to navigate but good use of the tide times depending on your location can result in a quicker passage from place to place and save on time and fuel. There is one lock at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft that affords access and egress to Lowestoft and again the North Sea. Again this is also out of bounds to hire craft.

The two largest navigable rivers are the Bure and the Yare. Both these rivers enter the North Sea at Yarmouth and are the most tidal. You can navigate the Yare right up and into the city centre of Norwich, where it joins the river Wensum. You can moor at the Yacht Station less than 200 yards from Norwich Cathedral, with just a short walk to the city centre and its market and main shopping areas.

The river Bure gives access to the main tourist area of the Norfolk Broads, its many boatyards, Broads, moorings and hostelries. Head on up to Wroxham, the capital of the broads where many tourists start and finish their cruising holidays and where the largest number of boatyards are located. Wroxham is a village with a variety of shops supplying everything you could possibly want. The majority of them are owned by ‘Roy’s of Wroxham’, a company set up in the village in 1931. Today you can visit its many outlets from the supermarket and department store, to the smaller chandlers, DIY store and many others all trading under the name Roy’s of Wroxham.

The two other larger rivers are the river Waveney and river Wensum. The Wensum joins the river Yare just outside Norwich and gives you access to the city of Norwich, whereas the river Waveney affords navigation down to the Suffolk Broads, and up as far as Beccles, a popular market town, again with its many shops and hostelries. Beccles has an outdoor swimming pool, a great favorite of ours and a must on warm Summer days. A couple of miles above Beccles is Geldeston, the end of navigation of the river Waveney. Visit the Geldeston Lock Inn, again a popular mooring serving hot food and some traditional Real Ales. It is a typical isolated mooring, ideal for those who prefer a quiet location.

There are many bridges crossing the various rivers, some large and some small. The smaller bridges can restrict headroom to 6’ 5” at high water, so some tidal planning has to be taken into account when negotiating the lower bridges. Two of the low bridges are arch bridges at Wroxham and Potter Heigham, but the assistance of Bridge Pilots are available during navigable times, compulsory for hire craft, and a small fee is charged. I recommend the experience of passing through these bridges, sometimes negotiated with inches to spare. Have your camera ready but watch your head.

The type of holiday you choose can vary from family to family. Our choice was to cruise each morning for a couple of hours and choose a mooring for lunch and

 

couple of hours and choose a mooring for lunch and visit the local villages to top up with provisions. We did the same in the afternoon selecting a mooring for an overnight stay, sometimes near civilization and other times just out in the middle of nowhere. Moorings are everywhere on The Broads, most of them are free for 24 hours, but sometimes a fee will be charged where facilities such as water are available or alternatively limited mooring space outside one of the many riverside pubs. All these hostelries offer good lunchtime and evening meals so cooking on board is not a necessity. Knowing our way around The Broads afforded us the luxury of choosing our meals in a local hostelry or taking advantage of the locally sold produce to cook aboard. Every hire craft has a fully fitted Galley. Many villages have vegetables, fruit, eggs or other such produce for sale outside their houses with ‘honesty boxes’ and we often took advantage of this fresh produce.

After our first visit to The Broads in the mid 70’s we returned many many times for what was in those days our main and only annual holiday. On a number of these holidays we were joined by my sister, brother-in-law and their two children and spent many a fortnight cruising our beloved waterways in sister boats named Master Peter and Master Paul. These were old traditional wooden Broads cruisers, 6 berth, quite basic, but enjoyed by one and all. As our children grew older, they enjoyed many experiences, some of which they discuss even today. Indeed when they became independent young people and arranged their own holidays, the first place they returned to with their friends was The Norfolk Broads.

During 1988 my family and I moved back to Wenvoe, and have remained in the village ever since. We had resided in Wenvoe in the mid 70’s when I was stationed in the old police house carrying out my duties as village constable. We had moved two years later due to a career move but loved the village so much we were determined to return someday and came back as I say in 1988.

At about this time my wife and I began to take holidays further afield to the usual sunny destinations abroad. Even so, we invariably booked at least a week visiting Norfolk hiring smaller craft, with just the two of us. In 2003, having retired from my career in the Police Service, I set up my own business and was able to schedule my work with holidays to suit us both. Following a visit in June of that year back to The Broads, we were loath to return home, and we started to discuss the possibility of buying our own cruiser. During the ensuing weeks and months, I returned to Norfolk on two weekends, staying in B&B and spending the time plying the length and breadth of broadlands chandlers and boatyards, searching for an ideal craft.

By this time private ownership of older hire craft had become very popular as well as enabling the cost of these boats to be available to the pockets of the everyday working couple. It actually took three visits to find our ideal cruiser; a glass fibre traditional broads design ‘Broom Ocean 30’ with the name ‘Rambler’. She began her life as a hire craft but had been sold to a private buyer when only 4 years old and clearly had been lovingly maintained over the years. She was for

sale at a boatyard in Wroxham and when I first set eyes on her I knew she was exactly what we were looking for. Thus began a 10 year love affair with what I described as my ‘pride and joy’.

She was 25 years old when I bought her. This made her affordable to us and with a full survey arranged, we took her over in September, 2003. We did consider changing her name but was informed this could be unlucky so we stuck with the name ‘Rambler’.

From that time on, we spent at least a week, sometimes two weeks on our cruiser during each month from April to October. The fact that she was berthed 303 miles from home was no barrier to us and every time we set out to visit her, the excitement never waned. We upgraded and modernized ‘Rambler’ over the years, with my wife renewing the internal furnishings and fittings whilst I concentrated on replacing worn or broken deck fittings and upgrading and maintaining her single diesel engine and the on board gas and electric systems. It was a learning curve, and we both learnt many new skills.

The annual costs for maintenance, mooring fees, insurance, river license and general running costs was approximately the same cost of a 2 week holiday abroad, so by maintaining her ourselves, it made the enterprise of owning our own cruiser manageable. Each year we would spend at least 10 weeks cruising our favourite waterway at a relatively low cost. We never tired of Norfolk and although we sold her in 2014, we still visit the Broads from time to time and relive those exciting adventures on board our very own cruiser.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, offer a healthy, relaxing and enjoyable holiday. Hire craft today offer all modern conveniences such as wi fi, satellite TV, mains electricity and they are fitted to a high specification. There are cruisers of all ages for hire that would suit most pockets.

I would suggest, as holidays go, there is no better way of recharging the batteries and getting out in the fresh air once again. So when planning your future holidays, why not give the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads some thought. You can research the various hire boats on line, have a look at Hoseasons Holidays or Blakes Boats. It is a holiday for all ages and for families in particular it is an ideal choice. Good luck and enjoy, but most importantly, stay safe.

Terry Ewington.

A School Group Up Mount Kenya

A School Group Up Mount Kenya

As a Valeways walk leader, I have had the privilege and pleasure of leading coastal and countryside walks for the past 2 years. As there are no Living with Cancer Strollers or Carers Walk this month, due to the coronavirus, I thought I would share some of my adventures as a walk leader further afield….

As a young teacher in Kenya, I decided to take a school group up Mount Kenya. This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. There are 3 peaks on Mount Kenya and walkers head for the less technical trek to Point Lenana (4985m).

My school party consisted of 25 pupils and 10 teachers. We had guides to take us through the breath-taking scenery: tarns, glaciers, dense forest, a vertical bog and to point out the wildlife: including mongoose, hyrax (evolved from the elephant) and duiker. Fortunately, we didn’t spot the rarely seen giant forest hog or bongo!

There are various routes up the mountain and the climb takes 3 days. After acclimatising at Naro Moru, we spent the first night on the mountain at the met station. All was well. The next day we set off through forest and high-altitude equatorial vegetation to reach Mackinders Camp with the dramatic peaks of Batian and Nelion looking down on us. Tents were set up for us and the head of the school cooked a high energy pasta dish, which very few people ate. Altitude sickness had struck…not something that my walkers around Cosmeston or Barry Island have ever experienced!

Headaches and sickness took over a large number of the party so only a few emerged from their tents at 2am to head to the summit. Heading off at 2am meant the scree and the glacier at the peak were frozen and more easily walked on. After a long trek we reached the top and watched the sunrise.

On the descent, one pupil, slipped on the ice and started to head towards the tarn….luckily a guide stopped him. Not a sight that is easily forgotten. On reaching Mackinders Camp, where we had left a large group of sick individuals, we were greeted by happier and healthier pupils and teachers; the British army had arrived for a training session and had provided lots of hot tea and biscuits.

So …… at Cosmeston and over at Barry Island, if you join us when the social distancing finishes, you can feel confident that you are in safe hands….as long as there are no frozen tarms to fall into or great heights to be scaled….

Lynne Frugniet

 



 

75 Years at Wrinstone Farm

75 Years at Wrinstone Farm

Aubrey Rees of Wrinstone Farm first encountered Gerry Crump when he gave the young 12 year old a lift home from the Sheep Dog Trials at Brynhill Farm, Barry. Little did they realise then that within a few years Gerry would have embarked on a career at Wrinstone Farm – one that was to span an amazing 75 years!

Early 1945 saw Gerry and his brother Ted strolling in the direction of Wrinstone Farm one Sunday afternoon. Gerry had always wanted to work on a farm. He had heard from Mr Thomas of Tarrws Farm that there was a possibility of a job at Wrinstone Farm. He was delighted when Aubrey agreed to employ him and shortly after that day Gerry started work on the farm.

Aubrey Rees lived with his wife Hilda, daughter Eileen (5) and 2½ year old son, Gwyn. Gerry soon became part of this happy farming family, sharing in their happy times and sad times over the decades. In fact Gerry’s mother always referred to Hilda as his second mum.

During the 1950’s Aubrey invested in a dairy herd. By now Eileen was busy working on the farm and when Gwyn left school he eagerly joined in with the farm work. Some years later Gwyn’s youngest son, Gareth, was also delighted to leave school to become a farmer.

Milk was taken in churns to the end of the lane, where it was collected, until about 1970 when a tanker started coming to the farm to transport the milk to Britton’s Dairies.

There are many examples of Gerry’s dedicated service to the Rees family. One special example was when he trudged across the fields to work and back home again, every day for 6 or 7 weeks. This happened during the severe weather and sub-zero temperatures of 1963 when the lane to the farm was blocked with snow drifts for many weeks.

Over the years Gerry has seen many changes on the farm. Rubber wheeled, large powerful tractors have replaced a Ford Standard tractor with steel wheels working alongside 3 horses (Punch, Jewel and Violet). There has been great advancement in farm machinery and long summer evenings pitching small hay bales are a distant memory!

Cattle numbers have increased gradually since the

dairy herd was sold in 2010. However, some things remain unchanged. Wrinstone Farm has always had field potatoes, cattle, chickens, a flock of sheep and, of course, sheep dogs!

During his long working life Gerry has always had great respect for his employers and their farm. He has maintained machinery with great care and has looked after the animals as if they were his own. Gerry has strived continuously to achieve high standards in all aspects of farm work and has always made his employers feel proud to have him.

Great commitment was rewarded when a long service medal was presented to Gerry in 1987 at the Royal Welsh Show. And he earned an award at the Vale Show in 2010 for 65 years of Service to Agriculture.

Gerry has now decided to take a well-deserved rest from farm work, but he will surely be spending many happy hours in his garden and with his wife, Phyllis.

Undoubtedly readers will agree that this story is not only special and remarkable – it is unique. Sadly Gwyn passed away almost two years ago, having spent many happy hours working with Gerry. He would certainly be so proud to have been able to share these congratulations to Gerry, on such a wonderful achievement. How many people do you know who have worked for the same family for 75 years, covering 3 generations of that family?

 



 

A Cherry Orchard – A Real Boy’s Own Adventure

A Real Boy’s Own Adventure

 

In the Second World War an English officer, Major Paddy Leigh Fermor, parachuted into Crete to capture the German officer commanding the occupying forces, General Heinrich Kreipe. The mission was a success and the general was marched over the mountains to a waiting British boat and taken back to the Allied HQ in Cairo.

This was real “Boy Own Adventure” stuff and I had read about that daring raid when I was young. Now some friends and I were looking for an excuse to hike a long and interesting route and ideally one with a narrative. So we read again “Ill met by Moonlight” the book about the abduction written by the other British officer involved, Captain Billy Moss.

The year was 2005 and our general idea was to follow the route taken by the captors. I wanted to ask the advice of Paddy who was then aged 90 and living in a house he had designed and built in Greece. It was rather more difficult getting hold of him than I expected. After some fruitless attempts, I contacted his publisher John Murray who suggested I contact Artemis Cooper, Paddy’s biographer, and she kindly gave me his telephone number in Greece. I couldn’t wait to see if he would reply and so I called that night and sure enough, the great man answered straight away. I explained that we were going to follow his footsteps across Crete and he seemed rather pleased and kindly offered to send me his original wartime maps.

Just days later the maps arrived in a plain brown envelope with Greek stamps. His landing place was marked with a small parachute and a boat was drawn on the coast where they departed with General Kreipe. This was enough to spur me on and in no time, I had assembled a group of friends and we flew to Crete. Although we went in the spring the days were hot as we walked across the arid slopes following closely the path taken by Paddy in 1944.

One morning we were deep in the countryside, walking along a rough unmade road when we heard a commotion ahead of us. As we approached we could make out singing in Greek and soon we came to a site where several families had come together to celebrate a religious feast day. They pressed us to join them and soon we had glasses of wine or ouzo thrust upon us. The children were chasing dogs as some men were roasting goats, split in two, and hung up on wooden stakes beside a massive open fire. The meat was going to take another hour or more to cook so we thanked them for their hospitality and walked on.

Later that day we arrived at the Anogia, the largest village in Crete and the scene of a dreadful massacre in August 1944 when, in retaliation for the killing of a German officer, a decree was issued by the German high command that every male in the village, and any male caught within a kilometre of the village, would be killed. In a matter of days, 117 men of the village were murdered and every house in the village was blown up or set on fire. When we walked into the village we paid our respects at the war memorial, listing the names of the dead, and sat in the square to relax and have a drink. We were soon introduced to the mayor of the village who insisted on buying us beers and, in turn, we told him about our walk and how we were inspired by Paddy Leigh Fermor. The mayor became very interested and knew all about Filidem, which was his Greek nickname. It occurred to me that Paddy would love a live update about our progress and in no time I called up Paddy on my mobile phone and, after explaining where we were, I gave the phone to the mayor whose face lit up as he realised he was talking to the man himself.

So our days continued, walking in the heat and in the afternoon looking for a place to spend the night. One particular day the four of us came across a high wire fence, built to keep goats out. It ran as far as the eye could see in both directions and was about six foot high. Surprisingly our small party had split up and I soon found that the others had somehow crossed it to the far side. But I could find no way over it or around it and the more I ran around trying the hotter and crosser I became. Finally, I saw a small gap at a post and, pulling the wire away, I managed to squeeze through. By now I was hot, sweaty and very fed up. I had no idea where the others were. So I walked on and came to a grove of cherry trees. There was a rusty pickup truck and its two occupants were up makeshift ladders collecting cherries. They had some black umbrellas upside down, hanging from the branches by the handle. Into these, they were lobbing ripe cherries. They asked me to help myself and so I lay down in the shade of a tree and dropped cool cherries into my mouth until my temper and temperature cooled down. Those were the juiciest and tastiest cherries in the whole world and I have never forgotten their flavour.

 

(Editor’s footnote)

“Ill met by Moonlight” is a quotation from “A Midsummer  Night’s Dream. When the book was  published in 1950, it was selected by W. Somerset Maugham as one of the best three books of that year writing,”more thrilling than any detective story I can remember, and written in a modest and most engaging manner”.

 

 



 

The Story Of A Steak Sandwich

The Story Of A Steak Sandwich

It had been another long hot day in central Africa, and I was driving a fast RIB – a rigid inflatable boat – down the river Congo at full speed. We were flying across the water, but I was steering carefully between the floating clumps of water hyacinth as we headed downstream to the capital city of Kinshasa.

We had started early, and I had loaded extra cans of petrol on board as it was a long push from our campsite at the side of the river to reach Kinshasa, but the leader of our expedition needed to be there as soon as possible. There were three of us in the small boat and the floor was literally covered in petrol cans. The cool of the morning soon warmed by the inevitable sun and by mid-morning it was baking hot. The metal petrol cans were too hot to touch, but thankfully the Mercury outboard was pushing us along at about 30 knots, so the rushing air was keeping us reasonably cool.

The first few hours saw us speeding along the calm river. Waves or rapids would have slowed us down but here the river was running deep and the surface was flat. The banks here were jungle and the trees really came down into the water, I am not sure if they were all mangrove trees but there are three types of mangrove and we probably passed them all. It was the same on both sides of the river which in this area was a couple of hundred metres wide. We were making good time.

We drank from our water bottles as we didn’t really have time to stop and make a brew of tea. It would have taken too long to gather the wood to make the fire to boil the water. The problem with our water is that it came from the river and it was best to strain it in a muslin filter to take out the animal and vegetable matter that was present. There were about 20 grains of foreign matter in each litre of water. So we strained the water and then put it in our water bottles along with chlorination tablets to purify it and kill any germs. The good news was that the water was now palatable, but the bad news was that it was like drinking disinfectant. But we needed to drink in that heat to stay well.

Our eyes were always sweeping ahead, partly to avoid hitting an object in the river and partly to see if we could catch sight of any wildlife on the banks such as hippos or monkeys in the trees. At the same time, we would look for landmarks to try and pinpoint our position. About the time we felt we were nearing the city we began to see some high-rise buildings poking out on the horizon above the great moabi, iroko, ebony and mahogany trees that formed the jungle canopy.

After another thirty minutes, we came upon the long dirty brown wharves where wood, palm oil and vegetables were unloaded from the river barges. Then further on we saw the manicured bright green lawns of what turned out to be a smart yacht club, with many small and larger boats bobbing on their moorings. Above the lawns was a single storey clubhouse neatly painted and with bright flags flying from an impressively tall flagpole. This seemed to be a sensible place to tie up and find a vehicle to take us into the city and to the British Embassy who were expecting us.

It was about midday and we had been on the river for over four hours and I was starving. Breakfast had been a rotten plastic mug of tea and some dried biscuits and I was looking forward to grabbing a bite to eat wherever we could. Having secured the boat, we walked up to the Clubhouse and were rather conscious of our scruffy appearance in soiled and sweaty shirts and petrol stained cotton trousers below which were wet boots dripping with river water. We must have looked an odd and unusual sight to the kindly barman who stood on the veranda as we approached. He was a Congolese man of about forty who spoke fluent French and was dressed in smart dark trousers with a white jacket, white shirt and bow tie. I briefly explained who we were in my stumbling French as he ushered us through the doors of Kinshasa Yacht Club into the bar area. Coming in from the strong sunlight my eyes adjusted to take in the fine carpet and comfortable looking armchairs around us but more exciting was the bar promising cold drinks and possibly food? I asked, with some trepidation, if there was anything we could eat for lunch to which I heard the immortal reply “Would sir like a steak sandwich?”. As the barman called the order to the chef in the adjacent kitchen, he poured the first chilled larger into a frosted glass and I was at the gates of heaven. The succulent steak sandwich soon arrived – a tender piece of sirloin steak in a fresh baguette. It was delicious and how hard it was to eat slowly. In no time at all the glass was dry and the taxi was waiting to take us to the Embassy – the spell was broken.

Kindly contributed by a Wenvoe resident

 



 

Tanzania Expedition – Jacob Morgan

Tanzania Expedition – Jacob Morgan

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone in the village who supported me in fundraising for Tanzania. I will be leaving very soon, on February 10th, for my 10 week expedition and I am very excited.

The picture below is of me at the top of Pen Y Fan, after completing it 5 times in one day back in November.

This fundraiser along with the quiz and raffle night held at the pub received huge support from so many of you, and I am very grateful. I am extremely proud to be able to say that the fundraising target of £3,450 for Raleigh International was reached, which is truly amazing. A total of £1,265 of that was raised by you, the generous people of Wenvoe.

So once again I would like to thank all of you for the lovely messages and support I received. It really means a lot to me. I look forward to telling you all about my trip when I am back in the summer.

 



 

A Visit to Puy Du Fou

SHARED EXPERIENCES

A Visit to Puy Du Fou

by Sylvia Harvey

Puy Du Fou is an historical theme park near Nantes in France welcoming over 2.3 million visitors every year.

Throughout the summer on Friday and Saturday nights is La Cinescenie – this is the most amazing spectacle. It is a large theatrical performance held on one of the world’s largest stages. It involves 2,500 actors, alongside 190 horses. There are 80 technicians and it brings together 4,000 volunteers.

It is a beautiful pageant telling a story set in the Vendee region. As each scene unfolds, it just takes your breath away. With the constant action, the lighting, the pyrotechnics, it’s almost impossible to describe.

There are a number of other shows on during the day. Two special ones for me were:

Le Signe du Triomphe: A Gallo-Roman stadium performance in which the 7,000 spectators are divided into Romans and Gauls to watch Gaulish prisoners trying to win circus games in front of the Roman governor. The atmosphere is electric; clapping, cheering, booing, chariots thunder around the arena as lions and tigers prowl among the contestants. WOW!

Les Bal des Oiseaux Fantomes: Another breath-taking experience as 330 eagles, falcons and vultures swoop over the audience, with their wings brushing our heads.

I could write so much more but I am hoping others may have visited Puy du Fou and will share their experience..

 



 

Y Taith Pererin Llyn

Y Taith Pererin Llyn

 

It’s a long way from Wenvoe to North Wales, and a frustrating journey if you are in a hurry, but if you have plenty of time, and the weather is good, it is a lovely drive. Such was it one very cold autumn morning, with a hard frost that had whitened the hillsides, and the sun lighting up the autumn colours, showing mid-Wales in all its glory.

The North Wales Pilgrims’ Way (Taith Pererin) is a 134 miles long-distance path, starting in Holywell and finishing at the monastery of St Cadfan on the island of Bardsey. It had some significance in medieval times, and two pilgrimages to Bardsey were considered as good as one to Rome. The section on the Llŷn follows the ancient pilgrims’ route, and that was our goal.

We started at Clynnog, where there is a huge church dedicated to St Beuno in a tiny village, and a spring or well nearby. People with epilepsy were brought to the well and immersed in it, and then had to spend the night on the cold floor of the church. If they were in fit condition the following morning, they then continued along the coast to Aberdaron, and thence by boat to Bardsey.

We inspected the well, but decided to omit the immersion, on the grounds that we were still quite healthy. We walked from Clynnog to Trefor, hoping to get a cup of good coffee, but this was a bit optimistic, so we had to make do with a machine coffee from a Spar shop. We continued over the mountain of Yr Eifl, which had been a centre for quarrying in the days when granite was highly valued. We walked up an old incline, which would have been used to bring the stone down from the quarries, and had a marvellous view of the Llŷn coast, and across the sea to Anglesey. We then came down to the settlement of Nant Gwrtheyrn, which is an isolated community consisting of three farms and the quarrymen’s cottages. The farms are now deserted, but the cottages have been converted into modern accommodation for the Welsh Language Centre, where people can stay during language courses, or they are rented out for bed and breakfast.

It was a beautiful evening, and we watched the sun setting over the sea. The Nant is a remarkable place, and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. I shall have to return one day.

Next day we continued along the coast, pausing at the Tŷ Coch Inn at Porth Dinllaen, well known for its location right on the beach. In fact, there was a long queue for lunch, so we had a pint and walked out to the Coast Watch lookout and chatted to the lady volunteers there, who were keeping a watchful eye on the sea, but who seemed to welcome some company. Further on, there were seals relaxing on

the rocks, and one in the water who looked at us suspiciously and disappeared, only to reappear much closer to us, in order to have a better look.

We stayed that night in the Lion at Tudweiliog, a very comfortable pub with excellent food. Next day we walked a long day along the cliffs, and chatted to a woman going in for a swim. She claimed it was fine once you were in the sea, but we decided to take her word for it. We passed the Whistling Sands, where the sand really does whistle when you shuffle your feet in it, and continued to Aberdaron, having to cheat a bit towards the end and take a short cut, because the light was going fast. The cliff path is no place to be in the dark.

We stayed in a small hotel in Aberdaron, with a marvellous view over the beach, and asked the ferryman if we could go to Bardsey the next day, but unfortunately the weather broke that evening after three perfect days, and the sea was so rough next day that we had no wish to be in a small boat at all. It was a disappointment not to be able to complete our pilgrimage, but this was a superb walk, about 40 miles in two and a half days, and we have good reason to go back one day.

 

 



 

Gap Year Expedition With Raleigh International

My Name Is Jacob Morgan

Dear Wenvoe Residents; my name is Jacob Morgan. You may know me from the Wenvoe Arms where I have worked for the past few years or seen me around the village walking the dog. I’ve lived in Wenvoe for the past fifteen years, moving here at the age of three with my parents and younger sister ready to enjoy playgroup and later start school at Wenvoe Primary. Now I’m eighteen years old and have finished compulsory education. Whilst most of my peers are starting their further education at university, I have decided to take a gap year to hopefully gain some experience in order to help me decide on what career I would like to pursue.

One thing I’ve decided to take part in during this year is a 10-week expedition in Tanzania. I’m doing this with other young people aged 17-24 from all around the world through a charity called Raleigh International. They strive to create lasting change in areas of the world less fortunate than ours. The expedition will consist of three parts, ‘Community’, ‘Environment’, and ‘Adventure’. We spend about 3 weeks on each project, the first being community in which the main aim will be to improve the safety of water, as well as sanitation and hygiene knowledge for locals in Tanzania. We will work with local schools, educating the pupils on these topics and helping to build sanitation facilities for them; overall improving the health of the community. The second project is environment. During this project the focus will be in forest management. We will work collaboratively with the local farmers and workers to develop forest management plans and raise awareness on the importance of these forests and plants, aiming to create a more sustainable and healthier environment. The final part of the expedition is adventure, which will consist of trekking through the Morogoro region or Southern Highlands of Tanzania. We will pass through small communities and see wildlife such as Lions, Zebras and Elephants along the way. After a day of hiking we will set up camp and sleep under amazing night skies unaffected by light pollution. During this section of the expedition my leadership and teamworking skills will develop and improve, which is brilliant for any workplace I could potentially end up in.

As a part of the experience I will need to fundraise money to pay for my flights, accommodation, and food whilest out there, but also a little extra to donate to the charity, so that more of a difference can be made throughout all the areas in which Raleigh International offer voluntary work. It will allow more projects such as the one I am taking part in to continue, helping to create more positive change all around the world.

I have several ideas for fundraising. Firstly, I am going to climb Pen Y Fan a total of 5 times in one day as a sponsored event. I am looking to do this around the end of November, most probably on a Saturday or Sunday so that my family can come with me (therefore the 23rd/24th/30th Nov). I am looking to organise a raffle, quiz night or race night in the Wenvoe Arms as this would not only be a great fundraiser but also a fun and enjoyable night for the village and the locals who would attend. I aim to arrange one or two in the run up to Christmas. I will have a meeting with Jenny and Digby to see which night of the week they think is best

to hold these events and further details will be posted around the village or on the Wenvoe Arms twitter page. Finally I have set up a ‘Just Giving’ page on the internet – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jacob-morgan where any donations can be made. Any help in fundraising for Raleigh International or for my expedition in Tanzania would be greatly appreciated.

I will keep you updated on progress and plan to write an article on my return to tell you all about my adventures and experiences. If you’d like to know more or share any ideas for fundraising with me pop into the pub!

 



 

Meet the Author – ‘Motorway Madness’

‘Meet The Author’ Evening In The Wenvoe Arms. 

‘Motorway Madness’

Our thanks to Ian Pate and The Friends of Wenvoe Library for organising another excellent ‘Meet the Author’ evening in the Wenvoe Arms. The topic ‘Motorway Madness’ might not have initially sparked your interest, but through photographs, expert knowledge and an array of personal anecdotes, Ian ensured that we had an evening which was both sobering and entertaining.

With a twenty-five year career in sales, which required extensive travelling in the UK, Ireland and the Benelux countries, Ian thought he knew everything there was to know about driving on motorways. However, it was not until he started working as a Traffic Officer in 2008, that he learnt about the unpredictability of our motorways. In this role, with powers to stop and direct traffic and work under the authority of a police officer, he began to appreciate the phrase ‘expect the unexpected’.

Statistically, the motorway is the UK’s safest road. Drivers know that if something happens whilst driving on the motorway they should move onto the hard shoulder, put their hazard lights on, get out of the car if possible and get to a place of safety. The last of these is important because the most dangerous place on the motorway is the hard shoulder. A safe place Ian reminds us is ‘behind the barrier, up on the embankment, under signs, by bridges or even on a police observation post’. If you stay in your car, your life expectancy according to police statistics is 30 minutes. The message is ‘When it is safe to do so – get out, keep safe, stay alive!’ At night, this risk increases. There have been cases in which lorry drivers at night have put their inside wheels onto the rumble strip that separates the hard shoulder from lane one, to keep them alert whilst watching TV!

As a Traffic Officer, Ian was involved in a wide range of incidents. Twenty five percent of all breakdowns attended on the motorway are simply because drivers have run out of fuel. Some drivers get into trouble when transporting goods like a mattress or even a complete bed from IKEA on the roof of their car without the legally required roof rack and safety harnessing! Getting animals to safety – horses, swans and at one time a small herd of water buffalo in Newbury – were all in a day’s work. Drunk drivers, unwell drivers, car fires and extreme weather all require assistance from the Traffic Officers. These people ensure that you and I are safe if an incident does occur. Ian and his colleagues set up rolling roadblocks, clear dangerous debris from motorways and are the people on the ground responding to alerts from the Traffic Management Centres across the country.

Ian concluded his talk with a look at new smart motorways where all lanes are running. On the first smart motorway on the M42 in the West Midlands, there is no hard shoulder and a refuge area every 500 metres. Above every lane there are signs to note variable speed and clear messages e.g. lanes closing. Any difficulties drivers encounter, are immediately picked up by the control centre and a lane can be automatically closed. The M4 between J3 and J12 is currently being upgraded to a smart motorway. However, the model has undergone modifications. Refuge areas are now1.6 miles apart and overly detailed signs on the left hand side of the motorway, have replaced the clear signs above each lane. It can take up to one hour for an ambulance to get to an incident. Inevitably, such concerns have led road safety campaigners to lobby Parliament and they are now working with an all-party group of MPs to look at the safety concerns relating to the rollout of smart motorways.

The Friends of Wenvoe Library would like to thank Ian for his support in helping to raise funds for Wenvoe Library. Please look out for the next ‘Meet the Author’ evening – we would love to see you there.

 

 



 

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