The River Usk rises on the northern slopes of the Black Mountains and flows through the rugged landscape that divides that range from the Brecon Beacons, in one of the most beautiful valleys of the United Kingdom. its headwaters and some of its tributaries are restrained by dams, namely the Usk, Cray, Talybont, and Grwyne Fawr.
At Brecon, part of the river flow is diverted to feed the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal which runs parallel to the Usk until the flood plains widen at Abergavenny. Here the two diverge, the canal to the south-west and the Usk south-east towards Newport. In all the river is 120 kilometers in length, with its flow generally faster above Crickhowell.
Water quality is good, both chemically and biologically. The Usk is regarded as an important river for salmon and wild brown trout, and also for rarer species such as the allis and twait shad, brook and sea lamprey eels, common eels, and white clawed cray fish. Invertebrate life is equally diverse and profuse, including cased and caseless caddisfly, snails, mayfly, stonefly and numerous terrestrial flies. It is for these reasons that the Usk has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
The salmon and sea trout fishing season extends from the 3rd March to the 17th October, although fly fishing is the only permitted method between 3rd March and 31st May. All salmon caught before the 15th June must be returned unharmed. The brown trout season also begins on the 3rd March and runs until the 30th September.
There is no prettier river than the gently meandering Usk, so pack your picnic and investigate its unspoilt charms.
Listen to certain commentators in the realm of antiques and sooner or later they will refer to 'brown' furniture. While crudely descriptive of some pieces it is an essentially unhelpful term, implying a degree of dull uniformity coupled with unfashionable impracticality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Explore the market for yourself and you will find a spectrum of shades from pale and understated limed oak to flaming auburn mahogany; from pine the colour of sun-dappled wheat to earthly elm.
Whatever hue you choose it is likely to embody an ageless design classic eminently suited to modern living. Take the smoker's bow or captain's chair. you don't need an addiction to nicotine or sea legs to appreciate it compact usefulness in a study or kitchen. Few chairs mould themselves so readily to those seated upon them, and the purity of their form chimes with both older and newer styles of decor. They serve well as singletons and look smart as matched sets arranged around a kitchen or dining table.
When it comes to maintaining domestic order the humble chest of drawers has yet to be bettered. A slender Wellington will outshine more utilitarian filing systems in a home office setting, and a traditional arrangement of short and long drawers in the bedroom represents your best choice of keeping socks paired-up in their appointed place. The multiplicity of sizes available means that many will slide-in as a made-to-measure fitted equivalent and by opting for solid, jointed antique timber it is possible to avoid those current construction techniques based upon stapled or badly screwed fibreboard.
Pick and choose, according to your own tastes, and you will find an almost endless diversity in antique furniture: plain or profusely decorated, imposing or bijou, clean and simple or flamboyantly ornate. Embrace these nuances and you will discover that 'brown' is most definitely back, and this time it's here to stay.