HUNDREDS of environmental campaigners braved the torrential rain and strong winds to gather at Symonds Yat and protest against fracking.

Local residents, members of anti-fracking group Frack Off Our Forest and campaigners from Herefordshire and Lancashire gathered at Symonds Yat Rock to denounce fracking on Saturday.

Rick Guest, from the Herefordshire-based Don’t Frack The Shires group, had canoed down the River Wye dressed as Gandalf as part of his quest to take the protest all the way to Number 10 Downing Street.

Mr Guest explained that JRR. Tolkien’s novels drew attention to the threat of fracking in the local countryside.

He said: “Eight of us came down by canoe and nine walked the route from Hereford to Hoarwithy.

“Some parts of the river journey were tricky with the head strong winds and the rain.

“We met with members of FOOF group at Symonds Yat and nine Lancashire Nanas who are fighting against fracking up north.

“The gathering of 250 people went very well. There was a lot of local enthusiasm.”

Mr Guest will continue his journey by bicycle through the Forest of Dean to Blakeney before crossing the rest of Gloucestershire and on into Oxfordshire and ultimately to London.

The Government formally issued a licence for gas exploration in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley to South Western Energy last month.

For gas exploration or extraction to take place a planning application must be submitted and passed by Gloucestershire County Council before any drilling were to commence.