If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tintern Abbey

I've just come back from a fantastic day.

Daughter No. 1 is on a camping holiday in the Forest of Dean and we thought it would be great to meet up for the day. My days off work and her holiday plans coincided with an agreement to meet today at Tintern Abbey, a huge Cistercian ruin in the Wye Valley close to Chepstow. A decent weather forecast meant that it was also a great excuse to give the Triumph a leg-stretch.

Tintern Abbey is in a beautiful sheltered setting. The valley is wide there, with steep wooded sides, and on a Spring day like today looked magical.

We met in the car park of the Abbey at lunchtime. No. 1 and her partner were hungry (nothing changes) and so was I after 130 miles of spirited riding through some fabulous countryside, so we went immediately to the pub next to the Abbey, the Anchor.

It was the perfect day for a sit-down in the beer garden, so I ordered a pint of bitter and some fish and chips, and we whiled away the first part of the afternoon catching up and enjoying a drink and some decent pub food. The sun was warm and the sheltered position made it quite hot.

We then did the expected tour round the ruins. Ruins is ruins, but it must be said that these ruins were not expensive ruins - £3.80 per adult seemed very reasonable compared, according to Dn1, with anything up to four times that in some parts of England. The site is massive and the ground plan very complex. Add to that the fact that some parts are merely foundations, while others are still the full height as when they were built in the C13, and the rest are of varying heights in between, and you get a very complicated 3D artefact. My eye was caught by the graphic nature of the interaction of the walls against the wooded hills in the background.

Later in the day, we visited some old iron mine workings near to Clearwell. As an ex-potholer, I found the workings fascinating, and when I get a bigger flash for the camera I will return and post some images here; but for the little second-hand digital job that I was using today the darkness was too much and none of the images was useable.

A goodbye in the car park and a surprisingly cold blast home, but a great day - not just seeing my precious offspring (sadly, daughter no. 2 has a dissertation to write and couldn't make it), but giving the bike a good workout on some excellent riding roads.

The riding season is back. Praise be.


  1. You've been getting some miles in lately, haven't you Richard.

    TOC / Ride-of-Respect etc.

    With a bit of luck, you might be graced with sunny weather over the forthcoming Bank Holidays.

    "......it must be said that these ruins were not expensive ruins - £3.80 per adult ..... "

    It's not as though they have to invest in a huge Maintenance Budget.

    1. Maintenance of a site as old as this can be surprisingly expensive, actually.

  2. I spent a week with friends camping in a private field in the 1980's very close to Tintern Abbey which we visited a couple of times. From what you say and your photos it stills seems unspoiled and hopefully not invaded by English Heritage signage.

  3. Oooh., I've been there! Long ago, now, of course, but yes, what I remember of it was good.

  4. I visited Tintern Abbey with my parents when I was too young to appreciate it.
    Looking at those photos tells me I need to think about another visit.

  5. @ Joe - the buildings maintenance may not be huge, but the grounds maintenance must be. All the grass was trimmed neatly and the place looked cared-for. Apparently Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire (a place of great importance to me) charges around £13 a pop these days, for much the same thing.

    @ banned - I think you would be pleased with it. The signage is probably the same as when you were last there, just a little more faded.

    It was a really nice place to go - Bucko and Julia, time for a refresher.

  6. "Rising season"? Mr Freud, your slip is showing!

    In the spirit of true hardcore bikering, the only long trip I've made recently coincided with the only day where it rained constantly. Telford and back (about 420 miles) on work business. My Midlander colleagues evidently, eying my bedraggled figure, thought I was certifiable.

    And then, on the M6 southbound at about 5pm, the clouds just dissipated, late spring sunshine started to dry out the world and me and suddenly the 200 miles home started to seem like an absolute pleasure...

    Glad you had better weather all day, though!

  7. Tis. (Early 13th Century joke).

  8. Rising season - you know, sap and all that :) Nah, thanks for the correction, duly amended above. That passed two read-throughs: I must be getting old.

    I think it's great to rock up somewhere and surprise people. The shock some members of my family got when I turned up at Newcastle on the bike for the family wedding was a delight, and more so when I appeared half an hour later in a proper suit and shiny shoes. But ... but ...

    Brian: "Tis. (Early 13th Century joke). " flew by me at 4000 ft and I missed it. Please provide a hint. (The only C13 joke I could come up with was renaming the pub 'The Anchorite', but it wasn't much good so I didn't.)

  9. It isn't an Abbey - Tintern Abbey in dialect. It is - Tis. Since the Abbey was closed in 1536 (or was it the Abbot and monks who were dissolute, according to Sellars and Yeatman?), nowadays one might say 'Twas.

    It's funnier with a Powerpoint presentation and handouts, honest. .. I'll get me coat.

  10. Argh, should have spotted that. The C13 reference sent me in the wrong direction, towards early Norman elephant jokes and Perpendicular puns. Nicely done.

    Funnily enough, I was having a similar debate with myself on the way up. Dn1 is a clever girl, knows her Old English, and loves Molesworth, amongst other things, ect ect. I was thinking of sending her a text with the meeting place suitably metathesised as 'striped cat on an unpaid apprenticeship' (for Intern Tabby), but I dropped the idea as insufferably precious. I think 'Tis' would have stumped her in the circs, but maybe I am underestimating her.


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