ELEVEN walkers joined Robin and his spaniel Pepper for the journey up to Goodrich in Herefordshire on a cool morning with overcast skies earlier this month.

Heeding a warning from the leader about some muddy pathways very close to the river, they set off along the road before crossing a stone stile and heading down steps moved towards the Kerne Bridge as the sun broke through the clouds.

Joining the Wye Valley Walk alongside the fast moving but peaceful River Wye on the edge of a ploughed and seeded field some steps led them up into Thomas Wood.

Following deer footprints along the muddy track, which in one place had a sheer drop into the river below and clambering over and under fallen trees whilst admiring the fungi decorating the woodland floor, the Wye bore the silhouettes of autumnal trees on the opposite side of the river. Emerging out of the wood onto the wide riverbank, a stop for morning coffee was unexpectedly enhanced by delicious orange and lemon cake baked by John R which went down a treat.

Continuing along the riverbank whilst one lonely swan flew high above them, before descending and spectacularly landing on the river and with pheasants calling to one another, the skies turned clear blue and in bright sunshine the temperature rose. Heading past newly laid hedges and dry-stone lined banks on the Courtfield Estate where a 40-horse, seven mile cross country race took place in March of this year and around a huge bend in the river below Courtfield on the hill above, mistletoe was abundant on one riverside tree. Three paddle boarders were making their way slowly downstream as the group continued to Welsh Bicknor to view the Church of St Margaret, owned by the Vaughan family from Courtfield since 2011 and which has been undergoing a huge amount of restoration.

Arriving at the outskirts of Park Wood beside the old disused railway bridge crossing the River Wye to Lower Lydbrook and which has been closed for more than eighteen months, a series of notices herald unrest about the fact it will take £1.3m pounds to restore it.

A muddy track thickly carpeted with colourful fallen autumn leaves led them through the wood and over a stile onto the flat wide grassy bank for lunch in warm sunshine, utilising a fallen tree for seating. Continuing below The Green and into Coldwell Wood below Coppet Hill, there was a stop to view the large memorial to John Whitehead Warre, a 15-year old boy who went bathing in the river whilst his family were enjoying a picnic nearby in September 1804, and was tragically drowned. The inscription on the memorial warns parents to ‘be careful how they trust this deceitful stream’.

Making their way around another huge river bend whilst gazing up at the massive Coldwell Rocks on the opposite side of the river where peregrine falcons nest, a flash of electric blue indicated a kingfisher in flight and high above them the viewing platform at Symonds Yat which was well populated with sightseers. Passing Mainoaks and crossing a field to reach Rocklands Farm where two Gloucester Old Spot pigs were on view along with several Shetland ponies and heading along the B4229, a gradual climb led them to a lane with glorious views to the tall spired St Giles Church before a descent by road back to Goodrich Castle. Prior to the homeward journey some of the group enjoyed cream teas in the café whilst others enjoyed a look around the castle, where in 1645 during the Civil War, the Parliamentarians forced the Royalists to surrender by the use of Roaring Meg, a large canon which fired 200lb mortars, after which the castle was deliberately destroyed to make it unusable.

On December 2, meet at 9am at Barry Dock Railway Station car park for an 8-mile moderate walk from Wick taking in a pebble beach (so bring a stick). Contact Geraint on 02920 515278.

On December 6, a train ramble will take in a 12-mile moderate to hard linear walk from Llanharan to Taff’s Well. The train leaves Barry at 8.45am and Penarth at 8.57am to Cardiff Central, to board the 9.18am train to Llanharan. Contact William on 07528 701952.

Wear suitable clothing, preferably boots and carry waterproofs, food and drinks. Some degree of fitness is required and if you are in any doubt, then please contact the walk leader for advice.

To follow the group please log onto www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com or Facebook. Programmes and membership advice can be obtained from Pam on 02920 255102.