Day 12: Tintern Abbey

Ah I intended to do Tintern/Wye Valley in one post but now it feels like doing them separately is a much better idea… You’ll know why when you read the next one, which hopefully will be out later today or tomorrow.

So yesterday (Jan 7) was another early morning… Not as early as Stonehenge, but early enough that it took some will to get out of bed. It took me almost 40 minutes to get to the bus station with all my bags and food, but I managed to catch the bus. X7 at Bristol Bus Station, then 69 at Chepsow Bus Station. Though the two busses were operated by different companies so fares were very expensive…

I decided to treat myself by reading one of Northumbrian’s newest chapters, and when I finished, I realized I was on a big bridge… A possible sea-crossing bridge… Yup I was on the bridge between England and Wales! It was very foggy and the above picture was the very best I could do, taken as we arrived in Wales.

As soon as I passed the bridge, I started to play HMHB’s “Lord Hereford’s Knob”… And Northumbrian takes full blame of this. But hey, what’s better than humming to yourself “To southeast Wales I was forced to flee, and now I have no job. That’s why tonight I’ be sitting on top of Lord Hereford’s Knob” while your heading the exact way?

Just on a side note… I’m staying in Tintern, which is a long way south from Lord Hereford’s Knob. But the journey’s enough to get me excited 😉

Bilingualism… Bilingualism… It’s quite interesting to try and decipher Welsh, by the way… Sometimes it’s very similar to English as long as you know the pronunciation rules, but other times it’s clueless!

A brief snap at the centre of Chepsow…

Due to a lack of CS hosts and very expensive B&B’s in the area, I’m staying at a hotel. It’s a nice little change with all the freedom, but the downside is I’m truly on my own… Oh and there isn’t a fridge in the room, so I had to take the risk of my food spooling. Speaking of which, I’ve decided to have dinner at my hotel’s restaurant later tonight. The menu looks a bit expensive, but we’ll see…

Now this is the village of Tintern… Even more rural than a Hayle and maybe even Lizard, and it’s in a valley this time… Strange, eh, how the settlements all seem to follow water?

My hotel is surprisingly close to Tintern Abbey… I’d thought it’d be about a mile so a 20min walk, but it was only about 5 minutes… Took me some time to find the entrance, though…

I can only assume that this is a part of the ruine, waiting to be exacavated further… But hey, instead of re-routing the highway they built a bridge to allow both transportation and archeological access! A very smart move indeed!

The Wye River (or River Wye…?), covered by what looks like fog. It’s very different from Stonehenge but it also gives a sense of mythology, as if I’m living in a fairy tale back in the 6th century… Also it reminded me of a Chinese folk tale about seven fairies taking a bath in the river!

Please bear with me, you’ll see a lot of this Abbey for the rest of the post…. So be warned!

The hedge-like stone structures are what was once walls… And they seem to be from some of the earlier structures, too… Those are very tall hedges, as tall as snow in Montreal gets… So attempts of taking short cuts turned into an embarrassing act of me climbing up and down the hedges…

Looking back, the hedges look like a mini maze… Imagine all those hedges eventually becoming walls… A thousand years ago this was some ginormous Abbey!

I’d known this Abbey was massive, but I never mentally prepared myself for it… After all, I haven’t seen many a castle before. So the result? I almost pissed myself when I first walked inside and realized exactly how capacious and tall it is… It’s so grand that for a second I thought my knee would buckle and I’d be kneeling on the ground. Well, now at least I know why people kneel to pray, maybe?

Just to give you an idea how big it is…

Or if you still haven’t got it, take hear this story…

I’ve been wanting to take a picture from one of the windows, but being 5’3, all of the windows were taller than me! The stones were too thick for me to hold onto while taking pictures, so I either back off and try to capture by lifting my phone as high as possible in the air, or find something to climb onto. There is only one window that offered me the latter opportunity, hence the above picture.

And this is the step that I climbed to give myself more height. As tall as Montreal’s snow, again! It was so tall that I had to use the other little hedge, and literally climb up like a climber, using the degraded window hinge as handholds… And as you can see from the picture, even taking that step was barely enough! The bottom of the window was around my shoulder’s height and I had to lift my arms a little bit to minimize the amount of wall at the bottom of the picture!

This is possibly one of the oldest structures as you can see it in the rocks… But maybe not as the rocks in the bottom looks like the ruined ones outside, so maybe this is the oldest remaining structure?

I’m not entirely sure which room this is, but it’s the only room with a top… And heck it is dark! No wonder they put torches on the wall! You’d never see anything with just the slits they call “windows”!

A Line Composed Yards Above Tintern Abbey:

I hope Right to Roam Act applies in Wales, too…

Indeed, taking this picture required a bit of trepassing… See that hedge/gate down the meadow? It was locked, so naturally (as I had been demonstrated how in Cornwall), I jumped. There was barely a path, and a lot of what I chose as my route up was mud… But eventually I was able to take a shot with some altitude, so I decide it’s worth it.

Walking south a few minutes and I was out of Tintern… Did I mention anything about small villages? It’s probably still bigger than Alwinton/Harbottle, as it seems to have a junior football team… But who knows? Maybe those kids are from a 20-squared-mile catchment?

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