The Wye Valley Tour – A Few Highlights

When planning this trip, I found out I could not fly back to Glasgow from Cardiff on a Tuesday (it can be harder to get around the UK without driving than you might think. Do-able but you need to add extra time). So I looked into what I could do with my one day. I stumbled across this tour company, WhereWhenWales. With a name like that I just had to try it! They offer four tours on a rotating basis, one each day. Tuesday was the Wye Valley which seemed perfect.

We set out at a decent time in the morning with a very knowledgeable driver/tour guide and , also, along the way met someone else from the company for more detailed tours.

Starting out from Cardiff (at lower left corner of map), we stopped in Caerleon a former Roman garrison during about the first 400 years A.D. On that site we saw a re-creation of that settlement, from around 80A.D. which included the Roman baths.

A couple other interesting facts, this shows a relief from the period with the colors red and gold, important in the dyeing of garments as they indicated prestige. I found out they did use madder root for the red.

Below is a reproduction of their footwear. Our guide explained that when it was cold, they stuffed sheep’s wool inside them and it felted as they walked.

Lastly at this stop we visited their amphitheater where they held their “games”. Since everything was held outdoors, even in rainy weather, they had to find a way to keep dry. They spun flax to make linen for clothing and then coated it with lanolin, extracted from sheep wool (using urine). They probably didn’t smell the best but they didn’t get as wet in the rain!

On our way to our next stop, our guide pointed out a sign for Raglan, named for Lord Raglan who served in many campaigns. He was wounded at Waterloo and lost his right arm. He asked that his sleeve for that side be designed so he could still use his sword. The birth of the raglan sleeve!

You may have noticed by now that all signs are in English and in Welsh. The language was disappearing in use especially by the young. In 1997 the Language Act was passed which mandates the teaching of the Welsh language to all children until age 12.

Also along the way, fields and fields of grazing sheep and blooming canola.

Next stop – Monmouth. It is the birthplace of Henry V and Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce. It is also the site of a medieval gated bridge on the border with England.

Next stop was, I think, the highpoint of the tour for me – Tintern Abbey. Founded in 1131, it is Wales’s best-preserved Abbey. The weather and light cooperated to give me some memorable photos. In the last photo, you can see three very small windows which have the last remaining pieces of the medieval white glass in them. Many parts of the Abbey – glass from windows and lead from roof, included, were removed during the reign of Henry VIII.

And some beautiful bluebells on the way out.

Final stop – Chepstow. Wales has more castles than any other country in the world. 600 at one time and over 100 are still standing. For me, the importance of this one was that it was the site of some of the filming for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who!

Next adventure on the horizon – the Isle of Skye. Only a plane, train, ferry and rental car away!

Published in: on May 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow! That was a full day and a lot of interesting stuff. I guess finding a real tour guide is sometimes a good thing!

    • Yeah, still not sure I am a “tour” person but this one was really well done. You sensed the enthusiasm of the guides – not like they had already done this hundreds of times!

  2. D > The Wye valley is SO picturesque! Tintern Abbey had been a highlight for tourists ever since the ruins were ‘discovered’ by the poets (most famously William Wordsworth) of the Romantic era, about 200yrs ago. The setting – lush meadows, The swift-flowing Wye, and thicky wooded valley sides with rocky outcrops, is SO romantic! Thanks for bringing back childhood memories, Jaclyn (no not 200yrs ago, but this was considered a remote area in the early 60s!).

    • You are more than welcome! I can see why it is such a special place.

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