Wye Valley Tipi Trail, Herefordshire

Last summer, Countryfile Magazine ran a competition with the prize of a family holiday on the River Wye. Read on to see how the winners, the Framptons, got on

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We were all very excited but also a little nervous when we heard we had won the tipi adventure holiday. As a family,
we had never considered a break like this and we had no idea what to expect.

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Our journey started at a riverside car park in the centre of Hereford. The instructors showed us how to use our paddles, how to get in and out of the canoe, and advised us about avoiding swans – particularly mothers with cygnets.

We were kitted out with lifejackets and laminated maps showing the route we were about to take, highlighted with pictures of the flora and fauna we were likely to see on our trip. This was fascinating, as being from the Wirral, we had no idea of the rich variety of wildlife that could be seen in this part of the country.

Once we were out paddling on the Wye, it took a while to get
used to being on our own, but we soon spotted our first landmark and started to relax among the lush scenery.

Our first surprise was the sheer number of ducks (particularly mallards) and swans on the river; we lost count at around 200! We also spotted several herons, which we followed downstream as they fished. But our highlight of the first day was seeing a kingfisher flying low along the riverbank, a brilliant blue flash darting past the trees.

We were disappointed not to see any otters, but we probably scared them off with our noisy splashing and messing about.

A home from home

We canoed for about three hours until we came to our riverside tipi site, where an instructor was waiting with our luggage. We were amazed at how well equipped and comfortable the tipi was. In fact, it was better than the expensive hotel room we’d stayed in on a recent holiday.

In the centre of the tipi was an open fire with a kettle, and everything we needed, from plates and cutlery to wood and coal, to have the best barbecue ever. All we had to bring was our food and drink, not forgetting the hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Once we were shown how to adjust the flaps at the top of the tipi, to draw the smoke from the fire up through the hole, we were away making the first of many cups of tea! We had a marvellous evening toasting marshmallows and enjoying the tranquillity of our secret, remote site. We all slept soundly in our cosy beds.

Final stretch

The following day, after a hearty breakfast, we layered on the sun cream and set off again for another stretch of the Wye. We observed fish plopping at the surface of the water and the most beautiful dragon and damselflies. Hannah shrieked with delight when a vivid blue and black damselfly landed on her paddle.

It took almost four and a half hours to do this trip, which was longer than expected, but the water level was so low that occasionally we got grounded and had to steer ourselves into deeper water. At one point we even had to get out and push, but it all added to the fun.

At the end of our journey, we were met by our instructors and taken back to HQ, where we collected our bags, said our goodbyes and made our way home with some wonderful memories, if not perfect canoeing skills.

This was a wonderful couple of days filled with a real sense of adventure, and it was a superb way to experience the Wye Valley at its best – a perfect family break.

Useful Information

How to get there

Tipi Adventure’s briefing base is in Hampton Bishop, just four miles from Hereford.

Find out more

Tipi Adventure
01594 861666
www.tipiadventure.co.uk
A two-day tipi adventure costs from £240 to hire one canoe (seats two adults and two children) and one night’s stay in a tipi. Bedding, cooking utensils, drinking water, barbecue facilities, cool boxes and baggage transfer are all included.

Eat

Number 10 Sandwich Bar
Church Street, Hereford
HR1 2LR
01432 371371
Stock up on sandwiches to take with you on the river.

The Bunch of Carrots
Hampton Bishop, Hereford HR1 4JR
01432 870237
www.bunch-of-carrots.co.uk
Drop by this riverside pub for its famous carvery and local ales.

Nearby

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Hereford Cathedral
Cathedral Close, Hereford HR1 2NG
01432 374200
www.herefordcathedral.org
After your canoe trip, spend a few hours wandering Hereford’s ancient streets and cathedral.