When deciding how I was going to write about Wales on my blog, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it. Usually I’d give you tips or sample itineraries, to help you out when planning your trip to Wales, but to be honest, my whole time in Wales was pretty off-the-beaten-path. Many of the places I went and things I saw are only really accessible with a driver or a car, and even with a car, the backcountry roads can sometimes be hard to navigate without a knowledgeable guide (so I’ve been told).
Anyway, I wanted to give you a glimpse inside my off-the-beaten-path adventure through Wales, compliments of my wonderful driver, and guide Shan Eastwood.
Day one in Wales, we started our road trip across the boarder in Bristol, England where Shan picked us up. We headed off to our first destination of the day—Tintern Abbey, but on the way we stopped in Caerwent, a village that is built entirely on top of a roman wall. Caerwent is located in Monmouthshire and is known to have some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Europe. So much history lays here but for some strange reason there isn’t too much information about this village, and many people don’t go to visit it despite it’s interesting backstory.
After our short stop in Caerwent, we headed to Tintern Abbey, a priory from the thirteenth century that sits in Tintern. When we arrived an enthusiastic lady was waiting for us who happened to be from Toronto, Canada and was now working there. Excited to connect with some fellow Canadians, Moira, showed us around Tintern Abbey and gave us some history on it. This priory was the first Cistercian (a religious order of monks and nuns) in Wales.
Although only some of the walls are left standing at Tintern Abbey, what’s left of it, mixed with the gorgeous rolling countryside, and blue skies, made it easy to envision the magnitude of beauty this place once was.
After Tintern, we headed to the small town of Monmouth and walked across the Monnow Bridge which is from the late thirteenth century and is the only remaining medieval fortified bridge in Great Britain with its gate tower still standing well in place. After we headed on to walk the streets of Monmouth, and check out some of the cute little shops—despite the fact that many were closed due to it being Sunday. We stopped at a local coffee shop—Salt & Pepper for some fuel and yummy local ice cream then moved on to Raglan Castle located just north of the village of Raglan.
Raglan Castle dates between the fifteenth and earth seventeenth centuries and what is left standing is gorgeous, despite the fact it’s only the walls. As we walked up to the castle, we were greeted by some locals who were re-enactors and on my way out of the castle; the one even dressed me up as a Viking (I mean, how often do you get to play dress-up at a castle?).
Within the castle, you can explore the many “rooms” and walk among what’s left of the castle. You can even climb up to the top of the highest tower that is left standing and get an amazing panoramic view of the countryside.
After the castle visit, we moved on to Abergavenny, another small town (surprise, surprise) from the eleventh century. This is where we were staying for the night at the beautiful Angel Hotel, where we were put up in The Mews building which is a former stable and sits adjacent to the main hotel building.
Tip: If you can make it to the Angel Hotel for Afternoon Tea, you’ll catch one of the best high teas outside of London.
After checking in, we headed out to explore Abergavenny. Once again, most of the town was closed, so we did some window shopping and exploring of some of the old neighbourhoods that have some of the cutest and small houses I think I’ve ever seen. I love the character in places like this! We headed over to a nearby park where we walked through the local garden and then up to the Abergavenny Castle, which is, a ruined castle established in 1087.
Once we arrived back to our hotel after a busy day, we headed for dinner at the Angel Hotel. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, “Is the best place to eat really at the hotel?” and believe me, I was thinking the same thing but was told this was one of the better places to eat in town. We had a delicious meal—my favourite being the mussels we had as an appetizer in a red Thai chili sauce.
Just like that day one of our Wales road trip was over. It was time for some much needed rest before day two.
Tintern Abbey: £5.50 (Adult)
Raglan Castle: £4.50 (Adult)
The Angel Hotel: Prices range from around £100 and up a night
Map of Places Covered