Tintern Abbey & The Wye Valley
It was an early start as we headed over the bridge as a full compliment, three eager walkers ready to tackle the beauty of the Wye Valley. We arrived about 8ish at the Anchor Inn as we marvelled over the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey. It was pretty quiet at this time, some of the local businesses were putting out their A-boards anticipating a busy day ahead.
We got our gear together and took a footpath that lead us along the River Wye and behind the Anchor Inn. We came out on to a cul-de-sac and followed the road up to the main route through Tintern (A466). We noticed a few hotels on either side of the road which gave us a few ideas. It would be great to stay at one of them for a few days and explore the whole area. We took a right and saw the bridge up ahead. It was a large structure with sleepers separating us from the waters fast flowing current below. It was solidly built to hold the weight of a train - freight and passenger. Beyond the bridge was a disused rail route from the quarry that was once worked in the area.
We followed the rail route along the river Wye, passing the Abbey under the cover of branches and over hanging trees. A stream flowed down from the hillside and across our path it fell steeply causing a mini waterfall.
I have to apologise again as I don't have any photos of this part of the route. Although it was quite a nice walk through the woods it was not very picturesque. It was not until we got onto Offa's Dyke Pass that I took more photos. Maybe if we do this route again I shall take some more highlighting this section of the route.
Our path started to rise as we neared the disused quarry through Black Morgans Wood. the road widened as the steepness increased. Huge Red Wood trees laden the way as they tickled the bottoms of clouds. The sheer size of these things were astonishing to say the least. We finally reached the wooden sign that read Devils Pulpit. We disappeared off the road and up into the trees on to Offa's Dyke Pass.
The winding corridors through the trees were almost enchanting. It was a really well managed route. As you can see from the images above and below the enticing path aroused the explorer within us - who needs a map when you have routes carved out as good as these and who cares where we end up. This is why we walk, being stuck in a factory for 12 hours at a time pays the bills but as a release it does us good to feel the crunch of tiny stones beneath our walking boots.
The path widened and the ground changed from stones to leaves atop of mud. We had made it to the ridge overlooking the valley below, just ahead was the Devils Pulpit. However just before that significant spot we found another opening in the trees that in my opinion was a much better viewing platform than the pulpit. Mark had brought with him some binoculars and was busy looking out at the Abbey below. Its funny from the ground you can't see this spot but from up here you can see everything.
Its quite mesmerising seeing where the car is parked and the route we had walked only moments ago, even the tiny bridge in the distance. After a refreshment brake we headed on up the pass following the well maintained path to the Devils Pulpit. Folklore has it that during the height of the Abbey the Devil would sit up here trying to lure monks from their daily chores and so say lead them into temptation. He must have had a loud voice thats all I can say. We headed on past the Pulpit and along the path towards an area called Lippets Grove. The path was narrow and muddy in places where the sun was unable to breakthrough the undergrowth to dry out any moisture. On occasion their was a break in the bushes to our right and we were able to see out across the Lippets Grove, a valley of lush green countryside.
We passed Beech Farm that was a campsite, either that or they were holding some sort of event. Children played in the trees as we passed on by. Our path started to descent towards a wooden bridge that lead us down some stairs and out into a field. We could see the small village of Brockweir which was our next destination. As we sauntered down the meadow we were accompanied by some sheep and up on a verge to our right stood a stone barn. It had since received a metal roof which looked rather odd given the age of the stone work. Mark said that it would look much better with a slate roof. I saw this as a challenge, I took a photo of it and in Photoshop I changed the roof into a slate one instead - much better!
Leaving Brockweir behind we headed over the bridge and down some stairs towards the old station. This has become a tourist attraction now and children's play area. It was a lovely day for it too as many families were out in full force, soaking up the rays and enjoying the delights of the confectionary shop. We passed though in true rambling style tried and thirsty stopping to admire a series of wood carvings. Iconically called the Circle of Legends it consists of six mystical figures from Monmouthshire's past - very fascinating if you ever get chance to see them.