After spending the night in Chepstow as a pit stop from Pembrokeshire to the Cotswolds, Dan and I decided to pay a visit to Tintern Abbey. The monastic ruins stand in the south of Wye Valley AONB, and a visit is a wonderful way to spend a morning.
The day we visited, a part of the A466 – the main road from Chepstow to the abbey was closed, so we had to navigate the tiny, winding roads. We ended up approaching from the north instead of the south, and were blown away by the sight. Just as we turned a corner into the valley, we caught a glimpse of the grand structure in the distance.
Outside Tintern Abbey is The Anchor Inn, a pub with a pay and display car park, and The White Monk, a gift shop. We weren’t sure where to park, and quickly realised we had no cash. Luckily, The White Monk offered cashback, and we were able to get a pound to park. I mentioned it to the man in the shop…
‘Oh, yeah, you know there’s a spot about 20 yards up this road with no parking restrictions. Yes, literally right there.’
Turns out where we had parked to go in the shop was the very spot with no restrictions. Result!
In no time, we were paying our £7 odd entry fee, and on our way towards history.
First, we explored the grounds, climbing amongst the ruined living quarters of the monks. Ted seemed to be having a whale of a time, sniffing at ancient stone. Soon enough, we reached the green and were able to see Tintern Abbey in all its splendour.
Isn’t it impressive? Trust me, it’s much more dramatic in person. What I thought was most incredible was the size of the window panes. The west front of the church was built around 1300, and it’s actually mind-boggling to think that they were able to make that much glass. Plus, it would have likely been a stained glass collage – even more magnificent.
We then wandered into the church ruins, where we were able to really get a sense of the scale. Tintern Abbey would have certainly been a glorious place, definitely demonstrating the wealth and power of the Catholic church. It fell into ruin following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, but it’s easy to imagine the splendour of what it would have been.
Ted though, my little pain in the backside, didn’t quite appreciate the building, and much preferred trying to mark his territory at every available block of stone. It was an intense workout to keep him from soiling the goods, for sure. However, I’m sure Cadw are used to the idea of doggies doing their business in the grounds.
Truly, it was a good job that the weather was clear and fresh. There is nowhere to hide from the elements at Tintern Abbey, so make sure you are prepared for whatever the British countryside might throw at you. We could have been much less lucky.
So put Tintern Abbey on your itinerary for your next trip to Wales. I promise you won’t regret it.