CHEPSTOW WEATHER STATION
GW7ERI AMATEUR RADIO
TUTSHILL - CHEPSTOW - UNITED KINGDOM
51.38.22 N 02.39.48W - 25 m ASL
MADIS ID: MAS579 - Met Office Site ID: 5001
Providing Live Weather Information for the Chepstow Area since 2001
Ham Radio QTH.
The information on this page is my personal view and description of the area surrounding Tutshill, a village close to the market town of Chepstow. I do not originate from this part of the UK, so therefore can not profess to be an expert! Neither am I an expert in history, geology, meteorology or indeed geography, so if you find any omissions or errors, please feel free to contact me by the link on my front page, and I will do all I can to put things right. I have deliberately kept the sections as short as I can, as many other web sites and books exist for anyone wanting to research further into this fascinating part of the British Isles, it's geography and history.
Most of the information I have gathered together for this page has come from research on the internet, but where specific information is quoted from published books etc, an acknowledgement is displayed.
I would like to thank all those authors who have published pages on the internet, whose work has helped me gain a better understanding of my locality. Except where mentioned, the pictures contained on this section of my web site have been taken by me, and I am happy if you would like to use any, however, I would ask you to please acknowledge their source.
Amateur Radio QTH.
'QTH.' is the international three letter 'Q' code designator which defines the location of a radio station.
We in Tutshill, are in a bit of a strange position from an Amateur Radio perspective. The village is located on the English side of the Country border with Wales, this border being defined by the River Wye.
Our Council district is 'The Forrest of Dean,' which is part of Gloucestershire. So it naturally follows Tutshill is firmly in England. Observant Radio Hams will immediately ask 'Why the 'GW' (Wales) call prefix - you should be using 'G'?
The answer lies with the UK postal system. Amateur radio licenses are issued by postal area. We have an 'NP' postal address, as these are allocated to properties within the Chepstow (Wales) postal district. From an Amateur radio point of view my QTH is in Wales, therefore whilst at home I must use the 'GW' prefix. As soon as I step off my property, I am technically back in England so would use G7ERI/p (portable) call. Confusing? Yes! Nothing in this life is ever simple....
Looking at our locality from a meteorological view point, we would be described as an 'Urban' rather than 'Rural' area. Surrounded on all four sides by houses, our garden (where the weather sensors are placed) is enclosed. Consequently we show some temperature variations, usually higher in our case, against those published by the Met Office.
Whilst every effort has been made to install the weather sensing equipment in the best possible location, we will always be at slight odds against 'official' figures. Much of the official data is obtained from airport locations, which by their nature are open areas.
The Severn estuary has quite an impact on local weather conditions, as the wind and weather 'funnel' up from the North Atlantic.
Several large trees surround our garden which, whilst affording our home protection from strong winds, results in my recorded wind speeds being again somewhat less than published 'official' figures.
We have what we have, and the year on year comparisons provide as accurate as possible picture of what has occurred in our garden.
Above all, this is an 'amateur' weather station, and while I am happy to share my observations to the benefit of anyone interested, no commercial decisions should be made based upon my data.
As mentioned above, and as can be seen from the map, Tutshill and Sedbury villages, which are more or less joined together now, are positioned on a 'spit' of land formed by the mouth of the River Wye, and the River Severn estuary where it enters the Bristol Channel. Adjacent to the mouth of the River Wye is the small village of Beachley, where an Army camp is now sited.
Both rivers, Severn and Wye, at this point are tidal in nature, and mud flats can be seen when the waters recede, providing a vital habitat for many species inhabiting these areas.
To the north lies the Royal Forrest of Dean, and the Wye valley. Composed mainly of carboniferous limestone, the Wye valley has deep gorges cut by the river, and several cave systems exist. The most famous of these systems is 'Otter Hole' which is the only cave in England or Wales which needs to be reached via a tidal sump.
Whilst on the subject of the tides, the estuary here has the second highest tidal range in the world. The funnel shaped nature of the Bristol Channel produces the 'Severn Bore,' a tidal wave that sweeps up the River Severn as far as the city of Gloucester. Surfers and canoeists can be seen 'riding' the bore at these times.
The Royal Forrest of Dean is also noted for it's coal reserves, and thriving industries were built around coal production, and also wood supplied by the forest.
Linking our area to the southern side of the Bristol Channel is the Severn Bridge which now carries the M48 motorway. Prior to the bridge being opened in 1966, the Channel was crossed by a ferry, which operated between Beachley and the village of Aust on the other side.
Several wildlife conservation areas exist, and the locality is an important habitat to Peregrine Falcons, Ravens, and in particular the Lesser Horseshoe Bat. During the summer months around dusk we regularly see the bats flying in our garden.
(Information gained from The Geology of Britain by Peter Toghill)
Living to the south of the 'Old Red Sandstone' area of the Welsh border regions, the geological age of our bedrock here is defined as being formed in the Silurian period of the Paleozoic age (544 to 245 million years ago or mya).
Located between the Ordovician, 510 mya and the Devonian period at 410 mya, the Silurian was defined by the Victorian geologist Murchison. He named this geological period after the Silures, an ancient Celtic tribe that inhabited south east Wales.
The Silurian period covers 443.7 mya to 418.7 mya, and is defined by the particular fossils found in the local rock strata.
Being at the mouth of a major estuary, after our top soil, digging down reveals a bed of solid clay, both brown and blue in colour.
An interactive geological map of the UK can be found here:
The Paleozoic age, covering from Cambrian (544 mya) through to Permian periods (245 mya) includes the Silurian period, and is noted for many species of Brachiopods - essentially ancient shell fish. The Mesozoic age encompasses Triassic (245 mya) through to Cretaceous periods, (146 mya) and also includes the Jurassic (208 to 147 mya.) The geological ages are usually defined by the geographical area from where the various rock strata were first exposed.
In particular, during the Silurian period the climate was much warmer. Melting glaciers caused the sea levels to rise, so our area became semi tropical in nature. Water evaporated trapping marine life, including shell fish and bottom dwelling creatures. It was during this period, life had to adapt to changing environmental circumstances by moving onto the land or face extinction.
Whilst renovating our garden, we had some stone gravel brought in. Known locally as 'Cotswold Stone,' this gravel has proved a rich source of the fossil evidence which tells the story of life on earth in ancient times here in our small corner of the planet.
As mentioned above, the Wye Valley is comprised mainly of carboniferous limestone. In the wider area surrounding us, can be found examples ranging from Silurian (439 to 409 mya) through to Jurassic(208 to 146 mya) and also Cretaceous (146 -65 mya.) As our gravel was 'imported' into our garden, and as I am in no way an expert, it is very difficult for me to give any sort of possible dates. My best guess is that we can with some certainty be sure the area was under water a long time ago.
The photographs opposite show some of the marine 'finds' we have made whilst working, in our garden. New examples turn up on a regular basis...
Evidence shows occupation of the area for at least 12 thousand years. Caves near Chepstow have provided finds from the Neolithic (Stone Age) period. There are also standing stones nearby, notably close to the settlement of Stroat, which have been dated to the Bronze Age. Several hill forts dating from the Iron Age can also been seen in the lower Wye Valley.
We are sited at the southern tip of 'Offa's Dyke,' built in the 8th Century by the Welsh King Offa to mark the boundary between his kingdom and England. Chepstow forms one end of the Offa's Dyke walk, the other end being at Prestatyn in North Wales.
Eight miles to the east of us, on the Welsh side of the Wye, is the ancient Roman fortress town of Caerwent founded in 75 AD, and named Venta Silurian by the Romans. Venta Silurian was named after the defeated Silurian tribe, as mentioned in the 'geology' section. Many of the Roman foundation walls remain, and portions of mosaic flooring and a tessellated pavement have been discovered.
The most obvious and dominant local historical feature is Chepstow castle. Building work commenced in 1067 AD, less than one year after the Norman invasion, and subsequent conquest, of Britain in 1066 AD. Placed high on the cliffs over the River Wye, the castle's strategic position commanded an important river crossing during medieval times. The castle also featured in the English Civil War, when it was besieged in both 1645 and 1648 by Parliamentarian forces. Nearby Beachley was the scene of a fierce battle, and to the north of Chepstow lies the beauty spot known as 'Wintour's Leap,' named after the Royalist General, Sir John Wintour. Legend has it, being pursued by the enemy, Wintour leapt off the high cliffs overlooking the River Wye, landed in the river, and swam to safety at Chepstow castle.
Five miles north of Chepstow, on the banks of the River Wye, lie the ruins of Tintern Abbey. The abbey was founded for the Cistercian Order in 1131 AD, by Walter de Clare, the then lord of Chepstow. Large improvements were made during the latter part of the 13th century by Roger Bigod III, the 5th Earl of Norfolk, and it is these ruins that can be seen today. The abbey fell victim in 1536 AD to the 'Dissolution' when King Henry VIII took control of religious affairs and created the Church of England. The lead from the roof was sold, and this magnificent building fell into ruin.
Iron working in the County town of Monmouth and the exploitation of coal reserves in the Forrest of Dean first took place in Roman times. The area continued to be in the forefront of metalworking, and Tintern is also noted as the first place in Britain where the metalic alloy 'brass' was made.
As mentioned above, due to the Rivers Severn and Wye proximity to Chesptow, shipbuilding industries thrived, the Forrest of Dean providing much timber during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, towards the end of the 19th century local industries saw a gradual decline.
Today, the area is noted particularly for tourism, enjoying many visitors during the summer months. As can be seen from some of my photographs, there are many local tourist attractions, and several major events are held in the wider area each year, including the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and the RAF Fairford International Air Tattoo.
View Larger Map
Local Map showing the location of Tutshill with respect to Chepstow and the Severn estuary.
Tutshill and Sedbury villages from 'The Bellfry'
MFJ 1786 Antenna
The weather satellite antenna
Sunset over the banks of the River Wye
Main Station Radio Mast
The 'First' Severn Crossing
Looking east along the Severn estuary.
Shellfish - we have many examples of these.
Brachiopod - Jurassic - Poss Goniorhynchia?
Belemnites - prehistoric squid. Part of a large collection.
Coral - Possibly Jurassic?
Ammonite from Whitby area - Jurassic
Chepstow Castle Interior
Tintern Abbey (Copyright free image - web)
Nearby RAF Fairford sometimes provides an interesting fly past
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta takes place each year - we occasionally see a 'stray' on our side of the Bristol Channel!