Cistercian Way: Grace Dieu to Tintern

Time to track back and revisit some of what we walked in 2005 and put on the web site. There are a few updates – well, it was 10 years ago. We didn’t think much then of the Wye Valley Walk from Monmouth to Whitebrook. It’s easy, flat, along the river bank, but to be honest a bit boring. On the other hand it’s easy, flat … But I was being ambitious and wanted some thing more interesting. So what follows is largely what was on the old web site at http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/target/26640439/source/search with a few corrections.

From Grace Dieu, it has to be the Offa’s Dyke Path to the outskirts of Monmouth. Where the OD path turns left into the town, continue on the west bank of the Trothy. In about 1/4 mile, take the road to the right signposted Mitchell Troy. Walk over the dual carriageway.

When the road bends sharply to the right, take the footpath straight on along the drive to Troy House.

Keep straight on to the right of the house and through the modern outbuildings and up the track.

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Follow the track past the first two fields then cross left into the field and walk up the hedge to your right. Go over a stile and into the trees. Turn left along a track. When you are just past the far corner of the field you were in, take the waymarked footpath to the right and walk up a lovely hollow lane.

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At the top we need some waymarking. Don’t take the first track to the right – it’s waymarked but not technically a right of way. Take the second, almost immediately after – not waymarked when we were there but this is the footpath.

The path goes over a stile and out of the trees. Follow the hedgerow along the bottom of the first two fields. The right of way has been diverted below a cottage: follow the waymarks to Penallt churchyard.

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I couldn’t resist going in to look at the ledger stones. No crosses, but these – very crudely lettered. Are they the same firm as the St Maughans ones?

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Also this rather cute cherub in the graveyard

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Leave the churchyard by the lychgate and turn left to walk downhill. In about 1/4 mile, just before a cottage, a waymarked track goes up to the right. Walk steeply up hill through the trees, along the top edge of a field, past a converted barn, back into the trees and down a hollow lane. Cross a stony track and keep straight on, across a metalled road and up through the trees along another hollow lane. Turn right on the metalled road and bear left at the T junction. When the road bends to the right, take the footpath straight on through the Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Pentwyn nature reserve and turn right on a track which becomes a side road into Penallt village.

Walk straight through Penallt and across the crossroads at the end of the village, then take the waymarked footpath to the left immediately after the crossroads. This takes you through trees and past the garden of the Argoed. When you leave the gardens, the path divides. Take the left fork round the edge of the rough ground. Turn left on the metalled road. When the road divides, first take the right fork then the left. This is a no through road which passes several cottages then becomes a stony track as it goes into the woods.

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Ignore the bridleway to your right at the forest entrance. Waymarked Glyn Mills, it would take you to the medieval borough of Trelech and the medieval road from Bristol to Chester. This is now a very minor metalled road which becomes a track at Tintern Cross, but it’s a considerable diversion.

The road into the forest soon divides. I took the right fork which descends steeply to a stony track. Turn left on the track then when the track bends sharply to the left take the path to the right (I think the left fork probably crosses the track here). Follow the path steeply down hill (a very eroded hollow way) and turn left on the metalled road at Whitebrook.

In about 200 yards, two no through roads go up to your right. Take the second. Follow it until it becomes a track. Here the Wye Valley Walk joins the track and goes steeply up hill to your right.

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Turn left on the metalled road at the top, follow it to another steep turning to the right, then left again along the metalled road. When the road turns right, take the track straight on. From here the Wye Valley Walk swings through the woods with lovely views

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to pass above Llandogo, through Bargain Wood and Botany Bay to the river at Brockweir.. Here the Wye Valley Walk remains on the west bank. There is a good path to Tintern Parva but after that you have about ½ mile of busy main road to reach Tintern. A better route is to cross the river at Brockweir and turn right at the pub. You are briefly walking along the line of the Offa’s Dyke path, but where the OD Path is waymarked up to your left, keep on the lower track and follow it into the trees.

When you can see Tintern Abbey below you, turn right on the track of the old Wye Valley Railway and walk across the bridge. This gets you to the Abbey Mill: once the monks’ corn mill, then an iron forge and furnace, now a tourist and craft centre. Walk on down the river to reach the abbey.

By the time I met Steve at the Abbey Mill I was staggering along – it was a much harder walk than in 2005. At this rate I might be revisiting the riverbank walk to Whitebrook.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

(A good alternative to crops, and you can let them down to get through the nettles. Eliot obviously knew what he was talking about.)

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