Date: Thursday 5 June 2014
Walked from: Monmouth
Walked to: Tintern
Walked with: Tracey
Distance: 15 miles
Stayed: Wye Valley Hotel, Tintern
Weather: A lovely sunny day
What a difference a day makes; yesterday may have been wet-magedon but today was glorious. We took our time having breakfast and leaving Monmouth behind as I had calculated we only had 10 miles to walk. My maths wasn’t great – it actually ended up being 15 miles. Oops… I think getting lost in the woods and taking the route along the river may both have helped add to today’s mileage!
I actually got a bit lost twice today – once trying to find my way out of town) how on earth am I going to cope back in London?!?) and again pretty quickly afterwards, during the climb up to The Kymin, a location apparently popular with high society folk in the late 1700s, when wars with France meant the Great Tour to Europe’s key sights got exchanged for a trip around the British Isles – and one key stop was apparently the vantage point over Monmouth. If I were one of those honeymooners of old I might have felt a little hard done by. The view, however (once we found it) was certainly pretty!
After more fields and county tracks we stopped for a lemonade at The Bell pub in Lower Redbrook, swapping soggy walking stories from yesterday with a north-bound Offa’s Dyker. Then it was back up the hill again, and through Highbury Wood, a national nature reserve. More walking through flower-filled fields took us to Bigsweir Bridge, where The trail gives you two acorn-symbol coded options to follow; more climbing and woods (I’m starting to get a little wood fatigue) or a stroll along the chocolate coloured waters of the River Wye. The Wye won, but as I’ve already suggested, I think it may have added a few miles. Good thing it was so warm and sunny, and with such a pretty setting, though my feet were too tired to be skipping through the meadows!
A final muddy stretch of bridal-way took us to our final destination for the day and the last stop-over of the trip: Tintern, a pretty village strung out along the Welsh side of the River Wye, known best for the beautiful ruins of Tintern Abbey. Founded in 1131, the Abbey was already in decline by the time Henry VIII went after the monasteries in what was surely one of the most monumental marriage meltdowns ever!