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The Erwood Crossing

The best view of the Wye-crossing at Erwood is from the far bank, where ‘Glanyrafon’ stands overlooking the water.  Now owned by Peter & Caroline Horsburgh, this riverside house used to be known as The Boat Inn – a tin plate with that name on is still nailed to the telegraph post at the roadside – and before that Caban Twm Bach (= Little Tom’s Boat).  In the latter incarnation it was a decrepit, thatched inn with stables and a cattle-stance. (See pictures.)

There is a sad story about The Boat Inn, and I wish I knew how true it was.  It emerged in a local newspaper in the 1930’s, but refers to much earlier times, before the first bridge across the Wye was built in 1859.  Caroline tells it well: Twm and his son owned The Boat Inn and a ferry – perhaps a heavy wooden box on a loop of rope would be a better description.  The ferry was beached near what is now the bridge, where the river is deep (#5), and three or four beasts could be fitted on it at one time.  Twm and his son probably prayed for heavy rain so the herd couldn’t wade or swim across, and one day their prayers came horribly true: the swirling water caused one of the beasts on board to panic and capsize the ferry.  The drovers on board grabbed the beasts’ tails and got pulled to land.  But Twm was drowned.

That’s the story.  So I looked through the records of three local parishes and there is just one recorded incident of drowning, but the date is not early enough and the victim is not Twm from Caban Twm Bach.  It was reputed to be a dangerous crossing, but that's as far as my knowledge went.

Then Caroline told me how 15 years ago, when they were ten and twelve, her daughters went for a morning swim in the Wye.  The younger one emerged from under water with a loud Ouch! and the elder swam down to see what had hurt her sister’s foot.  There, screwed into the bedrock, was a large eyebolt or iron ring....for a ferry; what else?

Please tell me if you have any more details of this story, or indeed any evidence that it’s untrue**.


So far the route had been across grassland, so no need to shoe the beasts.  But not far ahead are the metalled roads of England, so the shoeing stations at Painscastle and Rhydspence are the next stops.

**October 2016 - Latest!  Mike Jones emailed me to say he's been informed that his great-aunt Ellie sent the story of Twm Bach to the local paper.  Mike is Twm Bach's great-great grandson.  So it's getting truer all the time... 

Thanks, Mike!  

The Erwood Crossing image 1
The Erwood Crossing image 2 and...(1960's)
The Erwood Crossing image 3
...the same house...(2008)
The Erwood Crossing image 4
...with 3 different names.
The Erwood Crossing image 5
Twm's crossing-point