Archive for April 20th, 2012

“I hear these waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.”

– William Wordsworth

Today, I have turned twenty three years old. So for the first time since my working life began, I decided to take annual leave on my Birthday. My parents and I headed to Wales at nine am, stopping along the way for a brief breakfast – and began to explore! We stopped at the Little Chef in Cirencester – where of course we were rewarded with lollipops. They even taste the same as they used to when I was little! (I know this for sure because I ate TWO!)

After Cirencester we got back on the road again and listened to the Sat Nav commanding us to go here, there and make sharp diagonal lefts at the end of the road. It was bearable though, we knew the views were coming. We stopped at Crickley Hill Country Park which is about six miles away from Gloucester. And many miles away from home.

It’s on the edge of the Cotswold scarp and so is obviously very beautiful. The views were breathtaking and stretched all the way back into Wales. Over in the distance the hills belong to Wales! It was quite surreal looking from one country into the next. You can tell I’ve led a sheltered life!

After Crickley we got back on the road and headed properly into Wales. It was  instantly noticeable by the sheep and the language on the road signs – which was in Welsh first with English underneath. However I automatically kept reading the Welsh and trying to make sense of it in my head – mind blowing stuff!

The views from the tops of one of the massive hills stretched all the way across Wales to the lovely river which you can just see in the distance in the shot above. I warn you now – this blog will be image heavy! I plan to include a gallery at the bottom though so those who are interested can have a proper browse through. We went to Symonds Yat Rock which overlooks the River Wye and had planned to walk up to the view point. It felt like a mountain especially when the rain began to pour down. We huddled in the car for a few minutes and then the thunder and lightning hit – followed by hail. It was magnificent, and I managed a few watery shots…

However we had to abandon the idea of going up to the viewpoint, and so trundled on back down to Monmouth and then up again into the winding hills to find The Kymin. It’s a hill overlooking Monmouth in Wales and is a mixture of predominantly overlooking the River Wye and the Forest of Dean. When we got to the top, we were 800ft above sea level. Very high stuff!

At the top of the hill is The Roundhouse. It’s beautiful – but was completely deserted and shut up. It was built in 1974 on the request of a group of gentlemen who wanted a club house. It’s down right amazing for a clubhouse I can tell you! The views are extensive…beautiful..breath-taking. It is believe that nine counties can be viewed from the roof and it’s now a grade II listed building owned by the National Trust. Here it is…

As we came back down the Hill away from the clubhouse we spotted the Naval Temple. It was constructed in the 1800 to commemorate the second anniversary of the British Naval Victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1978. It recognises sixteen of the British Royal Navy’s Admirals who were significant in victory. The memorial is topped by a bronze Britannica but this is now a replica.

Sadly it rained whilst we visited the Kymin and so we didn’t hang around long. All the pictures were taken in muddy freezing hail conditions! Afterwards we made our way back down the hill and across the beautiful views and headed to Tintern. The Abbey there was the main reason I really wanted to visit Wales – my parents had stumbled across it recently on a business trip and ever since I’ve wanted to go and get some shots. Before we got there though, we took a tiny but worthy detour…

This 12th Century Monks Hall once belonged to the Monks of Tintern Abbey. It is believed to be the oldest house in the Wye Valley and it’s now a completely refurbished getaway for mostly romantic lovey dovey couples with lots of money! It’s in the Brockweird Village which is just around the corner from the Abbey and is now a Grade II listed building. It’s beautiful.

I’ve read that the inside is just as beautiful too. We wandered around the corner when we spyed an enticing sign that said, ‘Moravian Church.’ Intrigued, I armed myself with the camera and we followed a small stream and quaint little path through some country cottages. (Not literally through them – it was a public footpath!)

The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination started in the late 14th Century. The Moravian presence was thought to have started in the village in 1833. The church opened in the same year with 400 adults and 120 children attending the first service of dedication. It’s the only church that now offers regular worship in Brockweir and so the Moravian influence is slightly less and all Christians are welcomed to worship. It’s a beautiful place, I’m not religious but I found the building to be incredibly spiritual and the setting wonderful. It’s on the River Wye and the only way of getting to it is to walk down the tiny little path.

Once again we continued our trek to Tintern, this time distracted by The Old Station. It’s on the River Wye and used to be on the long gone Wye Valley Railway. It’s beautiful with the train being open to explorers and people wanting to by awesome gifts and the station building itself now a tearooms. Complete with a live nest cam of some birdies! We had to stop for a drink and a bite to eat, it seemed rude not to!

We finally made it to Tintern as the sun was breaking through the clouds once more. It was absolutely incredible. I have thirty finalized shots of the Abbey because I liked it that much and it was the biggest contributor to my grand total of over 1,000 pictures taken today.

The Abbey is surrounded by the beautiful Wye Valley – endless trees, sky and more trees. I had to keep remembering to remove the camera from my face so I could look at the beautiful architecture myself.

The Abbey is claimed to be one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. It’s the second Cistercian foundation in Britiain, the first in Wales and was founded on 9th may 1131. Just wow. It has stood the test of time reasonably well considering.

In the 13th century the Abbey was very much rebuilt, the cloisters and domestic ranges around them were all re-done and this finished with the Church. Today the Abbey is on the side of a road, bordering the River Wye on it’s other side. It’s very much part of the scenery and very much something that cannot be missed as you are driving through.

All in all – I was more than impressed by the day. It rained, thundered, hailed and there was a spot of lightning here and there. But the sun shined too, I got muddy, tired, freezing cold – but I adored every second of the day. I had some amazing presents from friends and family this morning, some beautiful cards, some lovely thoughtful gifts too – and an awesome Birthday. I’d like to be 23 everyday please!

We headed home across the River Severn, which meant a lovely drive across the bridge. I like bridges! I had to hang out the window a bit for this shot…

And to finish the day off completely…when I got home, there was CAKE!

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