THE first Wye Valley River Festival reached the banks of the River Wye at Llandogo today, having entertained the Monmouth crowds yesterday.

The two weeks-long festival launched in Hereford on May 3 and makes its way through Monmouth to Llandogo, Tintern, ending in Chepstow on Sunday, May 18.

It celebrates the nature, culture, landscape and life along the River Wye. Using a narrative partly inspired by the children's classic Wind in the Willows, the festival organisers have been telling audiences the story of Ratty the Water Vole on the run from justice.

A feast of food, fire and flame awaited visitors to Llandogo, with a high wire walk talking place in the mid-afternoon, culminating in a fire and flame showcase as the dark skies fell.

A community picnic also took place on the banks of the river today and the scouts gave a play about Baden Powell as he used to holiday in Llandogo and sailed along the river.

Visitors said it followed its course along the Wye with "thought provoking" performances raising awareness of conservation and the environment. It stopped in Monmouth on Saturday for “mock trials” involving actors disguised as animals.

The mock trials held at the Shire Hall yesterday gave children and parents the chance to learn more about conservation with performances blending humour and testimonies from real environmental experts from organisations including the Wildlife Trust.

The festival is the brainchild of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.

Partnership community links officer Sarah Sawyer, 49, said: "We wanted to do something that celebrates the area, culture and nature with stories that flowed all the way down the river from Hereford to Chepstow.

"It is thought provoking. We try to connect with as many people as possible in a way everyone can understand."

Spectator Jennifer Probert, 16, said: "It is very clever I think the way they brought it out in the open."

Coleford mum Sarah Cheese, 49, said: "It's thought provoking. It is very well done. I like the costumes and there is very good acting."

Her son Laurie, 12, said: "The costumes are great and I like the characters."

The festival is going through towns along the river and will culminate with a fire and flame finale in Chepstow on May 18.