4th July 2009 at 6:43 pm

Tintern Abbey & Dinefwr

Day 1 of my Holiday to Wales – visited two spectacular locations on my way to the cottage.

First , just over the border in the Wye Valley was Tintern Abbey.
  Tintern Abbey

The second stop was at the Dinefwr Park and Castle.
   Dinefwr

Tintern Abbey is a large and impressive ruin set in a stunning landscape. The scale of the building is not something you can prepare yourself for by just looking at a photograph. It’s an incredible feat of architecture, especially when you consider it was built way back in the 12th century – well worth the visit and it exceeded by expectations.

The star of the day however was definitely Dinefwr. This was just supposed to be a fairly brief stop to break up the journey, but nothing I had read or seen had prepared me for what I found when I got there. The pictures I saw previously on various Web sites show the remains of the castle of which only the outer walls appear to be standing.

You arrive at a rather unassuming National Trust Welcome Centre – here you are told that the walk to the castle at the top of the hill is quite arduous and will take around 25 minutes. Although the timing is about right, the accent is quite gentle in my opinion. Nothing so far had prepared me for what I saw as I exited the woodland path at the summit of the hill.

Towy Valley

You are immediately greeted with an impressive view over the Towy Valley -this alone has justified the hike up the hill. As you continue along the path, you reach the entrance to the castle which rather helpfully has a sign saying ” castle” next to it.

Dinefwr

Once inside it initially looks just as you expect – the skeletal wall of a once great structure – however as you look up, you spot other people on top at different points along the walls.

It then become very apparent that there is more to this castle than you would think at first glance. These are very think walls and they have retained easy access from the ground to the very highest points of the castle – the full perimeter of the castle is accessible and from here the views that you were presented with as you reached the summit of the hill are humbled by the even more impressive views that this increased height commands.

The castle is in the care of Cadw, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage and in common with the many castles in their care that I have visited, they seem to have made a point of making it as accessible as possible. Whereas many castles I have visited in England have very limited access to the higher part of the walls and towers, in Wales they are not above replacing missing stairs to enable much greater access.

Back down at the bottom of the hill I just had time for a brief visit to Newton House, located in the park
Newton House  

I didn’t have time to do it justice nor to visit the other attractions in the park so I will have to make a return visit one day.