No more shops!
Tintern Travel Blog› entry 2 of 55 › view all entries
On Saturday, for the first time in months, I had nothing to do. So having got up late, mooched about the place in my jogging bottoms, and had a bit of a think, I decided that this was not as much fun as I had thought it would be. I needed to do something. Something where, as far as possible, I could avoid the four million screaming toddlers, grumpy people, grinches and shop assistants that I knew would be hainging about Swindon, trying desperately to buy happiness. Of course, I realised this when I also knew I had less than 5 hours of daylight left...
This somewhat limited my touristing options. Luckily, however, the Wye Valley in Wales (which I had previously visited briefly, with my last ex boyfriend) is right across the border and about an hour away.
I went to Tintern Abbey first. Tintern Abbey was part of the inspiration behind a Spectacularly Dull Poem I had inflilcted on me in high school (see "A Note on the Text" below!) but I decided not to judge Tintern Abbey on those grounds. And I was glad I didn't; Tintern Abbey is extremely pretty, and I had the place almost completely to myself, because the entire population of the UK was in a mall somewhere. There were white doves cooing about the place, lots of signs telling you about the monks, and I enjoyed wandering about a lot.
After that, I crossed the river Wye for a walk, and then went back to the car. On the way back south, with a vague thought that I might go to Chepstow just to see what it was like, I passed a sign that was totally irresistable. it said "Forestry Commission: 365 steps". Now, as poor Lauro can attest, I cannot resist climbing up steps. Cliffs, sure, because that is hard. I can totally ignore extreme sports. But there is something about the promise of getting up high that I cannot pass up.
This was, of course, silly, because I had less than an hour now till dusk, and as I'm sure you know, wandering around woods in the dark is silly.
I am silly.
The woods were amazing. The path was easy to fololow, meandering ever upwards between wild yew trees, and mosses dripping with rain. Funnily enough, it wasn't raining, so I can only assume that this was left over rain the woods were saving up for any passing tourists. It was dim, and cool, but not cold; everything was still green, because of the Holly and the Yew. And silent. As silent as I would imagine a wood in Middle Earth or Narnia to be; not at all like the kid-shrieking woods of the country parks of England.
The steps were intermittant, and carried me up the steep side of the hill. I have no diea if there are really 365 steps or not. I strode up fast; I was worried about loosing light, and was rushing a bit. This may explain why I got the whole way to the top before my legs turned to jelly. it's worth noting that all I had eaten all day was a small Pain au Chocolat, because I decided to go on a bit of a spur of the moment thing. But the view was stunning. you can't see it in the photos, but once you are at the top, you can see the Severn Bridges and the ports of Avonmouth, and apparently on a clearer day you can see the Cotswolds and the Mendips too. it was well worth it.
I went back down rather more slowly, because of the ever present threat of going over my ankles on the leaves and the dripping stones. And the woods were still magic, even on wobbling legs and an increasingly persistant wheeze where I had totally forgotten I was asthmatic. I got back to the car with about ten minutes of good light left.
I did drive through Chepstow on the way home, and drew the following conclusions; I would like to go back, but only on my way to teh Wye again, and only on a Sunday - it looked interesting but even at 5pm the traffic system was inpenatrable and it took me three attempts to escape the one way system. I'm half surprised I made it out alive.
A Note on teh Text
Tintern Abbey is also a very, very long poem by Wordsworth.