It has been a splendid Autumn. Today the rain is lashing down and gales are forecast but a couple of weekends ago I had the most delicious Autumn day in Chepstow.
I had informed the family of my plan to go to Chepstow look at the castle and do a spot of Geocaching. To be honest they weren’t wildly enthusiastic, my husband spends lots of time driving during the week and didn’t much fancy the idea of another long drive and the kids are always suspicious that I am taking them on a ‘walk’ dressed up as something else (they were right).
Sunday dawned to thick fog. The family regarded me warily – surely this would alter the plans? But I was adamant, fog is to be experienced just as any other weather, a castle in the fog was surely going to be fabulously atmospheric…. plus the forecast showed fog clearing in Chepstow.
As we climbed the road out of the valley in which Bath lies we passed out of the fog into brilliant sunshine and blue skies. I felt a little relived. However, as we descended again towards the Severn Crossing the fog enveloped us once again. I remained resolute. Everyone else looked a bit grumpy.
Chepstow is not in fact a long drive from us – only 40 mins. I love that we can whizz over the Severn Crossing and be in Wales so quickly. We have passed the town of Chepstow several times on our way to the lovely Beeches Farm Campsite which offers fabulous views over the Wye Valley, but we had never stopped in the town. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a pretty market town and a fabulous castle.
As we arrived the fog remained soupy, various towers and walls loomed upon us. It felt bleak and damp. Peering through a window we could see brown muddy water swirling below us with a single moored boat just visible through the gloom.
However, as we explored the many walkways, passages and towers the gloom started to dissipate. There is those moments just before the sun breaks through when the air glows with refracted light. And then, suddenly, there is blue sky and sunshine and the mood lifts. Suddenly, the wide bend of the river below the castle became visible. The lone boat tottered merrily in the shining water and behind it a beautiful white metalwork bridge spanned the river invitingly. Without really knowing why the children started to chase one another laughing. This moment is why I love being outside – only the great outdoors can generate this kind of soul nourishing experience.
And now the sun was with us it was not going away. Following our exploration of Chepstow Castle we drove 5 minutes to a local woodland to do little bit of Geocaching.
One of the things I love about Geocaching is that it is a great way to find a good walk. Check out the map in the area you are visiting, look for a ring or circuit of caches, usually marked with numbers to show the order, and you have a ready made easy to follow route that would be hard to find without buying an ordinance survey map of every area you visit! As an added bonus if you read the logs of the caches you will often find a description of the landscape too.
On this occasion I had a real hankering for a beautiful woodland autumn walk and I found a short circuit around Great Barnet’s Wood. What a find! As we parked, the sunlight lanced through the high canopy of the beech trees creating pools of autumn sunlight, lighting up the golden leaves all around us. I was, frankly, in heaven. The caches were not challenging and we were free to enjoy the beautiful woodland.
As we climbed back into the car at the end of the day everyone was smiling and a little tired and my ten year old said gleefully. ‘That was so much fun!’. It was too.
Thanks to Outdoor Bloggers Network for providing the inspiration of blogging about Autumn and an excuse to use some of my favourite recent photos!