Symonds Yat today. It's not an area we have ever visited before and now I'm wondering why! The weather was perfect, the sun was out and as usual the crowds tend to stay close to the beaten track so it's easy to find some lovely quiet unspoiled areas.
So I lovely day to day starting with King Arthur's cave. This was our objective and I was reminding myself that we needed to take a torch. It was halfway over the Severn Bridge that I remembered it was still on the hall table. Whoops. Fortunately the mobile phone has a helpful "assistive light" so that would have to do!
King Arthur's cave shows evidence of long occupation by man. Certainly since the upper Palaeolithic time. Discoveries inside the cave show hyena bones, woolly mammoth and lots of flint tools.
The cave of course has plenty of local Arthur superstition around it. Vortigern is said to have made his last stand nearby
The cave clearly goes far back. Lacking a torch of course it was hard to see but the camera flash gives some tantalising glimpses into the recesses. This was the first of many caves we saw today. The limestone cliffs are riddled with them, some are fenced off presumably as too dangerous to enter and the hillside is pockmarked with sink holes ( depressions left where underlying cavern roofs have collapsed.
So after the cave comes the hill fort. This was a steep climb up the hillside to the Little Doward Hill fort but well worth it for the views. I wasn't quite so keen on having to pass through a small herd of cattle - they looked like Charolais but they had some mighty big horns...
The views from the top are spectacular. Is this the 'Castle of Gwrtheyrnion'? It seems a good candidate
Archaeologically speaking, recent excavations have shown that the inhabitants lived in round houses within the enclosure. Many of the ditches and ramparts are still visible and it was well worth the effort of the climb.
Time now to go down to the River Wye itself. passing some spectacular rock cliffs. The cliffs bear the scars of blasting as this was a centre for the production of lime.
The resultant cliffs though are a wonderful habitat for rare plants and a lesson in how when left to itself, nature can erase the damage caused by man.
Where there is limestone and plenty of wood there are likely to be lime kilns, This is the remains of the 17CE one just above the river.
After a quick run up Symonds Yat rock to admire the view it was time to cross back over the river - this time by the Hand Ferry. Bargain at £1.20 pp. This is an ancient crossing point but I think the rope wouldn't originally have been a steel cable.
Hard work for our ferryman though.