There is a nice pub next to the castle car park, and we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a typical pub lunch of beer and a ploughmans.
From Chepstow, we drove North up the beautiful Wye Valley, stopping halfway towards Monmouth at Tintern Abbey. We looked
around the abbey which is worth seeing. It is mostly ruins now, but the main walls, shape and size can be seen, and it was
We then took our first Welsh walk up into the nearby mountains to try and find Offa's Dyke. Offa's Dyke was built by the King of Mercia (Offa) in the 8th century about 786ad. and is an incredible feat for the time, running 168 miles completely from top to bottom of the England - Wales border and was designed to keep the marauders out. At the top is a high point known as "The Devil's Pulpit", but as we climbed steadily upwards it was getting steeper, muddier and more difficult. We had also made the stupid mistake, of having all our proper hiking boots ready in the car, but had thought it a nice day, and set off in our street wear. So, eventually we had to give up near the top ... but we all still enjoyed the lo-o-ong walk very much.
|Asa on his hotel balcony|
Monday morning myself and Mark went off to play golf at the utterly superb Rolls of Monmouth course ("Rolls" being
Sir Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce fame). I have played many courses around the country, but I still put The Rolls down as my
|Mark on 18th tee The Rolls|
|Asa and Viv up Raglan Castle|
Mark and Helen had planned to journey home, but as we booked a fun afternoon at the Taff Valley Quad bike centre, they
decided to join us there.
So they did their own thing in the morning, whilst we went into the mountains again. Viv and Ace climbed Fan Fawr at 2,409 feet, whilst I enjoyed the views stopping just short of the top. It was a very steep climb and quite slippery and I poised myself to catch them if they fell.
|Arrival at the Quad Bike Centre||Asa on Quad Bike|
|Mark on quad bike|
Unfortunately at this point Mark and Helen had to get home for work the following day, but we had the rest of the week
After breakfast we immediately rung a local Riding centre and booked a morning's pony trekking. We had never done it
before, and expected to just arrive there and ride horses already prepared and ready to go.
After a long 10-mile ride along a one track road in the black mountains we arrived in Capel-y-Ffin at the Grange trekking centre.
We were non-plussed when the owner started to give as grooming and tack handling lessons ! .... and then indeed, we had to brush down our own mount and fix the saddlery and bridle BEFORE we could ride.
|Viv on Cromwell|
I won`t go into detail of the ride but believe me it was sensational.
Up incredible terrain, across fields, along a ravine. Some trotting, an attempt at a canter ... all exhilarating.
And we even had to brush down the horse afterwards as well !
Afterwards, we found an amazing old pub in the middle of the Black Mountains which was like something out of "American Werewolf in London" and had a ploughmans and played bar billiards.
|Viv and Asa on Sugarloaf Mountain|
|Graham on Sugarloaf Mountain|
That evening we found one of the best restaurants in the entire country. Egon Ronay winner, with plaques on the wall outside covering almost every year ... and awarded The restaurant of Wales in 1997, 1999 and 2000 ... superb food and layout. If you're in the area, it's called The Nantyffin Cider Mill Restaurant.
Time to leave as we have to be back early for Friday morning to meet Leanne back from her trip from Spain. But no rush home, we can take all day, so we ignore the M4, and go through the Forest of Dean, then through Gloucester and spend the day at Oxford. We took a nice open top bus through the city and saw ALL the university colleges ... I didn`t know there were so many ... 43 (yes, forty-three) we counted !
Anyway, after that ..... home.
And that was our trip away.
On the Friday, we picked up Leanne ok .. and then just to make the holiday seem complete, we watched England stuff the Argies with a few mates from work dropping in to watch in comfort.
So another nice day !!