Croeso I Gymru! Welcome to Wales!
Nestled deep in the lush, green hills of the Wye River valley is Tintern Abbey. Founded by Norman monks in 1131 and dissolved by Tutor King Henry VIII in 1536, Tintern Abbey was once the richest abbey in all of Wales. Since 1536, the abbey has been left to slowly devolve into the ruins of a proud remnant of Welsh history.
Today, for a very modest entry fee, £16.20 for a family of 2 adults and up to three children, it is an idyllic escape from the city if you are in Cardiff or Bath, a wonderful break if travelling from Southern England into Wales, or can be part a splendid day trip from London.
During our visit of approximately 3 hours, the kids loved scampering over the ruins of the abbey, running around the open spaces, and hiding amongst the fallen walls. Across the road leading into the abbey there are more ruins where our kids were able to run around and play, with absolutely no other tourists around. Perhaps if you are travelling without kids, you could take the time, as Wordsworth once did, to admire the beauty that surrounds you and compose a short poem. If you are so inclined, you can even have your wedding within the picturesque landscape of Tintern Abbey.
On a clear day, as we were lucky enough to have, the sun blazes through the stone window frames and doorways creating curious shadows and postcard like scenes at every turn. I can only imagine that on a cloudy day an entirely different scene is set; one of a certain foreboding past steeped deep in quintessential Welsh history.
A carefully crafted picnic lunch, including fine fresh British cheeses, breads, English mustard and perhaps a glass of wine, would not be out of order and would likely create as fine a dining experience and setting as you are likely to experience anywhere. Admittedly, we ate during our car ride as the kids were all hungry a bit earlier than anticipated. (Needless to say we also skipped the wine while driving.)
If you are not up for a picnic, there is The Anchor Inn, a traditional pub offering full meals or The White Monk, a café coupled with a small gift shop selling the usually types of bits, bobs, and trinkets. We opted for a small bite at the White Monk where we enjoyed tea, coffee, cakes and pastries, though they also offered sandwiches as well for a light lunch. There is also a small play structure in the garden of the pub to amuse your little imps while you enjoy your meal or the last remnants of your tea.
No matter what brings you to Wales, Tintern Abbey is a wonderful day out with the kids.
Happy and safe travels!