Ceredigion (#19)

Have you been to Aberystwyth?

Do you even know where this town is?

Well in my seventy years, I have not but I have/do now!

If you set off on a road journey to this place, Google Maps tells you it should take around five hours from London. And it does, I imagine…unless you slow to admire the extraordinary beauty of the Cambrian mountains in the upper Wye valley, on your way. Or the many other beautiful aspects ‘en route’.

Mine took me along the M4 (the boring bit) toward Swindon, then veering north around this old railway town, (I confess to stopping when my SatNav told me I was crossing a small stream on the A419, and imagine my excitement when peering into the diminutive River Ray, and I saw fish rising, but they were probably dace!) past Cricklade, with its lakes, galore, to Cirencester, then climbing (a relative term) up into the beautiful Cotswolds toward Gloucester (but avoid the City) then onto Ledbury, then driving over the muddy Severn, toward Hereford, a mere thirty miles hence.

On this route, I stopped for sustenance, and was looked after beautifully by bright young things, and spotting some clues from my past enquired whether one Will Chase had an interest in my hostelry, named interestingly,  ‘Verzon’? He did, I was told. He owns it. You will know of Will…Tyrells crisps, Chase vodka (also from potatoes) and more. I tried to do business with him, once, and didn’t, but Verizon is well worth a visit!
Where were we? Ah yes, Hereford. Avoid it and beware the SAS snipers!

But onwards to glory in the acres of apple orchards, all claiming to be the prime source of Strongbow cider, once a Bulmer’s of Hereford brand, but now, not!

This is a very fertile region of our country, and whilst quiet now, in the growing season, imagine the controlled chaos at harvest time when acre upon acre of fruits need to be liberated from their stalks and stems and sent speedily to be cleaned and processed…or pressed!

We are getting dangerously close to the Welsh border now, but still in the Severn catchment, which is important, because every time I spotted a stream, and in spite of what has happened since, at that time, the end of May, it had rained a lot, and every stream I saw was brown, and fast flowing so I was concerned, because I was venturing into the unknown and prospects looked grim, for already I had fished this year less than half the number of days I had in 2017 at the end of May, and I WANTED TO FISH!

My route to this oasis of a town, took me through the picturesque villages of Rhayader and Llangurig, then onwards along the A44, a one road in, and one road out, it seemed, of the most westerly of Wales’ significant towns, and this one, home to 8000 students, as well as the 13000  resident population. And what did I see and feel? Well, somewhere where I recognised today, because of retail brands we all know, but at the same time, somewhere from a past, perhaps the 50’s or later, and where similar ‘sea side’ dwellings as once enriched Brighton or Hove or Hastings…a by-gone era, but reassuring, too. No towers here. People in shorts on a warm Spring evening. People enjoying, simply, what is theirs.

I arrived at mine host’s retreat – a family home of standing owned by David Thompson, friend, entrepreneur, Brewer and fisherman, who had already embraced my Quest, and helped me ‘net’ Salop and Herefordshire, via his membership of the Midland Flyfishers.

He was there ‘en famille’, for their annual gathering from far flung parts, and what a gathering, and what a family. Poor chap has not one but three sisters! What could growing up, totally outnumbered, have been like? Twins, Frances and Lizzie, and Emma, too…all wonderfully bonkers! And what a super evening we enjoyed, with great food, lovingly prepared, and washed down appropriately, accompanied by laughter galore, and great conversation. (Thanks, Mark though, for some sobering sips of said host’s Malt before retiring…wink, wink!)

To the west of the Cambrians, the streams were running clear, and I was relieved, and David took me fishing, for a few hours before the family fun, which I felt privileged to be part of, began

We fished the Llanilar AA water on the River Ystwyth at Rhydyfelin, where fish were rising but not, committedly, to my parachute Adams, and also upstream near to Trawscoed on the Crosswood Estate, where just one did!

Ceredigion has another stream I am interested in – the Rheidol. This is mainly in the hands of the Aberystwyth AA.

Next time?