I always fancied owning a yacht, I suppose a lot of people do. A life on the ocean wave, follow the sun and go almost anywhere you want.
It was never going to happen, way too expensive although you can buy some second-hand ones at a reasonable price, usually because they have a big hole in the bottom that needs repairing. We even looked at life aboard a barge before we moved to Wales. They are affordable and some are over 60 feet in length. However, unless you are a couple of bean poles under 6 feet tall, it can be pretty uncomfortable squeezing about the place like a couple of mice.
Admittedly, you can go anywhere in the country, within reason. Well, there has to be a canal you can travel along, it always helps when you have a barge. Then, of course, there are the psychological problems you might face living in such a confined space. Can you imagine, having a blazing row, there’s nowhere to go and sulk and you’d probably bang your head a gazillion times. So, it’s not for us and our feet have remained firmly on the terra firma.
Wales have their own water transport in the form of a Coracle. It’s been around for centuries and not only that, you can make them yourself. I decided to buy one as a local tipped me off as to where I could find one at a great price of £20. Paddle included! So, there I was, a proud owner of a Coracle. The River Lugg runs past our house and straddles its way through mid-Wales passing the town of Presteigne about 7 miles away before crossing the border to England and joining the River Arrow in Herefordshire.
Read The Instructions
According to the instructions, you set the Coracle into the water, get in it and use your paddle first on the right and then on the left and so on until you cross the river or get to where you want to be. Well, that’s the theory! I got in mine, got my paddle, smiled at the wife and pushed off from the riverbank. Whoosh!!! I was gone, like a speedboat. Literally, I zoomed off, the current taking me down the river and no matter what I did with the paddle it made no difference. My wife disappeared out of sight and I was getting worried. I only wanted to get to the other side and now who knows where I’m headed for!
Faster and Faster
I’m sure I was picking up speed too. There was a bridge I went under and people looking over shouted, “Are you ok down there, old-timer?” My voice had deserted me, probably from shock. The further I went, the more rural and isolated were the surroundings. I kept thinking to myself what happens if I end up in the sea, I could go as far as Africa before I stopped. Would I ever see my family again? By now, I was worried and scared, having no control over this upside-down pudding bowl. The river was getting wider and flowing faster with every yard further forward I travelled.
Eventually, after what seemed like half a lifetime I could see a huge fallen tree from the bank and lying in the river. If I was lucky, I might just get a hold on it and put a stop to this mess! For once, luck was on my side and I was fortunate enough to grab onto a large branch sticking out of the water. It stopped the Coracle dead in its tracks. I clambered onto the fallen tree and the Coracle and oar went on its way without its hapless passenger. After I got to the relative safety of dry land, I had to find out exactly where I was. I followed a muddy track for about half a mile until I came to the main road. There was a sign that said ‘Welcome To Leominster.’
Leominster is 23 miles from where I live!!! So here I am, no money, no phone as I never carry one and no phone number home. I imagined my wife would be worried sick, but then again, she’s probably laughing her socks off. My best plan now, I thought, was to start the long walk home and maybe hitch a lift along the way. After about 5 miles of walking and feeling very silly a car came towards me that I recognised. It was my wife, after seeing me drift off into the unknown she got into the car and set off, following the route of the River Lugg hoping that she would find me somewhere along the way. She did and I’m eternally grateful.
There is a Coracle Society for anyone who might be interested. You can find it here.