SUP the River Wye - Day 2
LOCATION: Byford to Hoarwithy
DISTANCE: 29.5 Miles
PADDLING TIME: 9 Hours
START: Byecross Farm Campsite
FINISH: Tresseck Campsite
STRAVA ROUTE: https://www.strava.com/activities/3802781097
Day 2 was the longest day of the trip both in distance and time spent on the water paddling. A short distance after setting off the main channel dries up leaving the flat rock bed of the river exposed on the right side. All water is funnelled through a narrow channel to the left where the flow picks up speed and will do its best to deposit you into the branches of the over hanging trees. Choose a good line, a few hard paddle strokes and its easy enough to navigate but if in any doubt stick to your knees until you're back in the main channel and the river returns to its calm serenity.
You will quickly learn how to read the flow of the river when approaching more mild rapids; the light dancing waves indicating the river will be too shallow to paddle whilst the larger, more angry looking water is where the channel remains deeper but with the constant threat of submerged rocks ready to tip you off with out warning. The rest of the river saw us descending these almost every hour and we relished their arrival as a break from the calm flat waters and also the knowledge the flow would increase for a little while giving us free extra speed.
After a solid morning or paddling and 12 miles we arrived in the largest conurbation along the river; Hereford. A long straight stretch leads you towards 3 bridges across the river. On the left as you approach is Hereford Rowing Club who offer camping and have a great set of accessible steps down to the river. Under the main bridge on the right are another set of concrete steps and from there is a short walk to a large Asda supermarket if you need to stop off for supplies.
We continued on a few hundred meters until the Bishops Meadow appears on your right and exposed sand banks make for a perfect lunch stop location. Upon leaving Hereford you'll pass under a railway bridge before large houses and matching gardens appear on your left which stretch down to the river whilst the right hand bank is the local sewerage treatment works. 7.5 miles past Hereford and at the next bridge you come to is Lucksall Caravan & Camping Park which has direct access from the river on the left hand bank. We used this as a handy ice cream stop but can also be used to break up the day for a nights camping. They have a small restaurant/bar and well stocked camping shop should you need anything as you pass.
The final 8.5 miles of the day down to Tresseck Campsite is a lovely paddle full of more glorious scenery. Upon arriving at Hoarwithy, the campsite lies after the village bridge and features a large stone bank for an easy get out point. A small set of stairs (with canoe shoot) gives you access to the fields behind where you're invited to pitch up where ever you like. There's no reception or check in procedure, the owner will drive round whilst you're there to take payment and sells firewood from the boot of his car if you fancy a campfire. The only facilities are portable toilets (which were impeccably clean) and drinking water from multiple taps. Sadly the local pub/shop were closed when we were there due to flood damage but they are being refurbished and should re-open again soon.
With the shop/pub closed we had resigned ourselves to an end of day cup of tea rather than beer when a fellow camper approached, curious how we were were travelling by SUP and how we'd packed so much kit into such small bags. He meekly asked if he would be allowed to provided us with a beer each which we felt rude not to accept...
After two long days we made the decision to split the following day into two sections meaning the remaining 44 miles would be completed over 3 days instead the originally planned 2. Looking for somewhere near Ross-on-Wye to camp the following night we enquired if our local friendly beer providing camper knew of anywhere close only to be told his wife managed the campsite at Ross rowing club. Decision made and money paid we had a new plan; it's amazing what good can come from accepting free beer.