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Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Glebe on Vacation-Tintern Abbey and Chepstow

It's Wednesday the 30th of June 2010,and myself and the girls are heading south to camp out for the night on the English/Welsh Border.
Maz's partner is on his way to Montreal,Chris is a musician with the Nofitstate Circus and they're heading for Canada for a fortnight.Lucky Maz will join him later.
Sez's partner Phil can look after himself for the night.(he's a very resourceful guy)
We head for Gloucester and take the bypass which gets us on the A48.On through Westbury on Severn where we once had a delicious meal in the Red Lion.
South west of Lydney we take a short break at Taurus Crafts It's a nice enough place with some interesting shops and a cafe.
We continue on past villages and hamlets with wonderful names such as Bullo,Bledisloe,Nibley Green,Stroat and Plusterwine.(And i thought we had some strange names up in Galloway)
Turning off at the sign for Tidenham we're looking for Beeches Farm.We've no map of the area so we're looking blindly.Almost doubling back on ourselves (we're heading north on country lanes) we eventually ask a young man on a dirt bike or similar contraption for directions.It's a stroke of luck we've come the right way and eventually we're on Miss Graces Lane up to the campsite.
At a fiver a night to pitch a tent overlooking the Wye Valley,this is certainly value for money.Take a look here
Beeches Farm

Tents pitched we're all set for a walk to Tintern Abbey over the Welsh Border.After a little apprehension of a 'Bull in Field' sign we're soon into the leafy Caswell Wood.
It's a gentle downhill to reach the Wye and Tintern.The weather's brilliant,and birds are singing.The tracks are all well signposted.

After a couple of kilometres we reach what was once the railway bridge over the Wye and our first view of the Abbey.We take a break for a few pictures, and wonder who the model for the walker sign was.(It's a very close likeness to a member off the Wigtownshire Ramblers !)
A thorn between two roses.

Just over the bridge in Wales is a very detailed information board.This picture is of a high enough resolution if anyone wants to read it.
The village has it's own website here
Next door to the bridge is our first port of call.It's the Abbey Mill Wye Valley Centre.It too can be found on the net at
Abbey Mill

Abbi the Water Wheel at the Wye Valley Centre,Tintern weighs 4.25 Tons,turns 14 revolutions per minute,takes 2 and a half minutes to stop and is 139 years old
There are quite a few other tourists about, but it's not overly crowded.This is the Angiddy Stream flowing through the mill.Definitely worth a visit if only for the waterwheel.
Now we head up to the Abbey.
This from Wikipedia.
Tintern Abbey was founded beside the river by Walter de Clare on May 9, 1131, during the reign of King Henry I. It was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and its monks came from a daughter house of Cîteaux in France. The present-day remains at Tintern are a mixture of building works covering several centuries. Between 1270 and 1301 the abbey was rebuilt, and when it was completed around four hundred monks lived in the complex. The abbey's land was divided into agricultural units or granges, and local people provided farm labour and served the abbey and its many visitors. For 400 years, it dominated the economy of its surrounding area. During some of this period the area was contested between the Welsh and English, the closest battle being won in 1404 by Owain Glyndwr, at Craig y Dorth near Monmouth.
The area also had to contend with the Black Death, and it is suspected that the neighbouring village of Penterry disappeared at that time. The abbey remained in operation until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.
We take a good look around.I snap Maz through a millstone,and we find an Edward the seventh postbox.
A signpost indicates a climb to a viewpoint.It takes us up to the ruins of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, burnt down in 1977.The grounds and graves are well overgrown,but a sign says they are maintained by volunteers...looks like they're on holiday.We do get some good views though.
Back down at the Abbey we're in need of some refreshments.The Anchor Inn looks inviting.It too has it's own webpage
The Anchor Inn
The original cider mill of the Abbey,the dominant feature of the bar is the apple press which would have been horse drawn.
Taking our drinks outside we contemplate food,as it seems are our feathered friends.
The Anchor Menu looks pretty good but we'll take a look around first.
The Abbey Hotel is across the road from the Abbey, and having looked at the menu at the front door we decide we'll eat here.
Almost every business in Tintern is on the internet and the Abbey Hotel is no different.Having plugged all the others I'd better continue the practise
The Abbey Hotel
I should be on commission,but I've no problem with this plug.The food was absolutely beautifully cooked and tremendous value for money.
With our appetites appeased,it's time to head back to England.Back on the railway/foot bridge we encounter a variety of pigeons,while a swan and her cygnets preen themselves on the waters edge below.
We're taking a different route back via the Offa's Dyke path.This strange and ancient woodland has an eerie feel about it,and I'm expecting to see the headless horseman any minute.(I only had one pint with my dinner...honest!)
The headstone here indicates the Devils Pulpit.
The dyke was built by King Offa of Mercia in the 8th century.It separated his kingdom from what is now Wales.

Now we reach the Devil's Pulpit.It's an isolated limestone pinnacle,where a gap in the trees gives views over Tintern.We should have taken a picture with someone standing next to it to show it's perspective.As intrepid as I am these days, I wouldn't climb up it.People have climbed it though.I've found this picture on the net.
Pontard Dulais Walking Club
My picture here is in no way a rarity.A google image search will show the same picture countless times.Worth taking though...
...on the other hand this picture is a rarity.The Devil himself wants a copy.
Close by is this strange body of rock and tree...I've no idea of how it came to be or whether there's any history to it.Perhaps a reader could enlighten me sometime.
With views over to the Severn Bridge,we take the path leading to Miss Graces Lane,from where we make our way back to the campsite.
We enjoy the peace and quiet of countryside sounds as the night draws in.
One solitary bat flies over.

We see a UFO.Honest!
A light in the sky seems to rise from somewhere in the west.At first we think it's maybe one of those Chinese Lanterns someone may have released, but when it begins to zig zag and gain height we have a rethink.Don't ask me why I never filmed it,I kept thinking it would probably vanish as soon as I got my camera out.We suspect it was either a propelled weather balloon,or some new military aid under construction.
We all saw it...I'm glad it wasn't just me,I'd have been questioning my sanity.
Time for bed.

It's the 1st of July in deepest Gloucestershire.We've decamped and are heading towards Chepstow.Near to the hamlet of Broadrock we park up to take a look at a viewpoint Maz remembers from a previous trip.This spot is called Wintours Leap.Sez thought I was going to.I was never in any danger taking this panorama...there were lots of ledges.I used to have a fear of heights.
Before heading in to Chepstow we have a look at the Severn Bridge from the car park of The Old Ferry Inn at Beachley
Now we're in Chepstow.It's more than forty years since I was last in Chepstow,and I don't remember a lot about it.What a great town for sightseeing and history...
...this is a collage of bands of texts set into the paving around the market area.
Everywhere there are plaques and notices with fascinating info.Over £2 Million has been recently invested in this regeneration of the town centre,with the lead artist being Howard Bowcott.It was voted the best UK pedestrian scheme, in the Street Design awards of 2005.Compared to certain town regeneration schemes I've seen (perhaps degeneration in some cases) this to me is miles above any other I've seen.
I know I'll be going back sometime.
Heading around to Chepstow Castle,Sez or was it Maz spots a wild cherry tree with lots of ripe fruit on it.Needless to say we indulged.
Now we can take a closer look at the castle.There's some great pictures and history on this website.
Chepstow Castle

Around the front of the castle we came upon an educational Medieval Fayre taking place.
Now we're down by the riverside,with lots more historic stuff around.

The Chepstow Castle Pub and the Gloucester Hole almost complete our short visit.I never knew there was such a thing as the Gloucester Hole.This is what Wikipedia say about it.

The Gloucester Hole is a roughly square opening in the limestone cliffs of the River Wye, directly opposite the town of Chepstow. The hole itself is on the Tutshill side of the river, in Gloucestershire, England; the river forms the boundary with Wales.
The small square opening leads into a much larger chamber within the cliffs. The entrance is about 5 feet 6 inches square, and runs in for about 12 feet. The cave was a natural opening in the limestone which was enlarged so that its greatest depth and greatest breadth are 27 feet, and its height at one point is 15 feet.There is speculation about its origin and about what it has been used for in the past. Suggestions include its use by the Shirenewton Quakers for storing tea, or for the storing of explosives by Brunel when the railway was built. A local antiquarian, J.G. Wood, wrote in 1901 that nearly 50 years earlier he had quizzed the oldest inhabitants and discovered that this natural cave had been enlarged and fitted with a crane at its mouth to unload large ships that could moor there in deep water, but could not easily dock at the shallower wharves on the Chepstow side of the river. The cargo was then reloaded onto trows and taken up river to Monmouth and Hereford. For many years mooring chains and rings in the cliff below survived to support this explanation. The cave can only be reached by boat at high tide.
Next to the Hole is a Union Flag which was first painted in 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V by some Chepstow salmon fishermen, and is regularly repainted. The highest tides reach nearly to the top of it.

That's me saying goodbye to Wales and Gloucestershire.I've crammed lots into my few days down here and loved every minute of it.
It was great to see you girls.I'll see you again soon.
Now I'm heading north to Lincolnshire.
Stay Tuned !


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    Is this possible?

  2. That would depend on who you are,and what content the links hold.Try me,I can only say no.


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