The River

    Fynbar paused and Bardon took up the story, “We were entering the pass through the gorge in the Combardock mountains. I knew that Fynbar was in pursuit as the Atrebates kept looking back and paddled harder. Despite my situation I have to admit that I sort of enjoyed the journey, as I hadn’t done it for many years. Either side of the river rock walls climb, sometimes bare, proud and unadorned, and sometimes festooned with hanging rivers of moss, lichens and ferns, according to how much light penetrates.” With a shy smile in his wrinkled and weather-beaten face he continued, “Excuse me, I wax lyrical, sometimes I can’t help myself. The sights are so splendid, so raucous to the senses. Even the passage of the water is loud, every sound you make is repeated, magnified with beauty and menace off the wet surfaces. I must set these thoughts to verse and music one day.”

    The main body of the mountain was still further north than the travellers, who had passed through the western massif which is separated from the main body by a gorge. The river was not entirely responsible for this majestic ravine. A forgotten upheaval caused by the fluctuating forces below had squeezed sections of the mountain together, channelling the river in their powerful embrace. Strips of sometimes grassy and sometimes stony ground nestled on either side of the river. More or less flat, they were at times only a few feet wide and at others several hundred feet. The changes were breath-taking, and to the canoeists sometimes bewildering. Walls threatened to close in on the boats as the water-course narrowed, giving the chasing canoe the opportunity to close on its quarry a little. In places the light was all but shut off, yet suddenly round a bend the landscape would open up to reveal glimpses of broad vistas in the distance. Caves and tunnels were sometimes apparent in the rock faces lurking beyond beaches of pebbles and tree debris. Just as quickly as these views appeared they were swept away and were replaced with more marvels of ancient forces and light.