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16 October 2014

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Why oh Wye oh Wye

By Keith Jackson
June 2004, Machynlleth
A digital story from Capture Wales

Wye Not!

Keith and Carmel put their relationship to the test.

"Carmel and I met in Birmingham. We had great times together but our previous lives had been very differently and we took a long time to decide that we might be able to live together. Soon after moving to Wales, five years ago, we put ourselves to the test rather dramatically.

We both like walking, but when I flippantly suggested that we should walk down the river Wye - from its source a few miles from our house - to visit Carmel's sister near to it's mouth on the Gwent coast, I never imagined she would take up the challenge. How glad I am she did!

We set off on the 140 miles with very full rucksacks and a heat wave forecast. Typically, I added to the gruelling trek up and over Plumlumon without an iota of shade, by insisting on finding the river's precise source. In that first 24 hours, I found a new Carmel.

She finished white with exhaustion but next morning was determined not to give up. I discovered what toughness and resilience and patience go with her famous sense of fun.

Our strengths complemented each other in the rhythms of each day: in the morning, chatting about all we saw around us in the valley and over the Brecon Beacons; in the afternoon, few words as we concentrated on keeping those increasingly painful steps going. As the heat increased, Carmel's feet and hands swelled but she never failed to enliven the events, soothing her feet in the river, fooling about, playing with a magical white colt that beckoned us into the forest.

Negotiating Llanthony Priory's 48 steps to the bathroom after a particularly long day - she was magnificent! At the end, our shared love of Wales was reinforced. More important was the shared experience - an intriguing mixture of great fun and pain overcome. So this was to be our life together; fabulous!"

Keith Jackson

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm semi-retired, living just outside Machynlleth. I'm trying to be a painter and love walking in the hills.

What's your story about?
The story is a tribute to my partner Carmel, based on a 140 mile walk from the source of the river Wye, close to my house, to its mouth in the Bristol Channel. This story seemed to be a good way to celebrate a great event in our lives.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The challenge of learning new techniques, working together with the team and a great group, the excitement of playing with images and words in combination.

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