Visit Southern Wales

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Archive for tag: monmouthshire

Tour of Tintern

Tintern CoachStanding on the banks of the River Wye in the pretty village of Tintern, it's hard to imagine a more tranquil setting for one our biggest historical attractions.

Tintern Abbey was built in the 12th century by an order of Cistercian monks who lived in the Abbey for 400 years.  Latterly the Abbey attracted the attention of celebrated poets and artists such as Wordsworth and Turner.

Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.

These days the remains are popular with visitors to this corner of Wales and walkers exploring the nearby Wye Valley and Offa's Dyke Path.

Other attractions nearby include the Abbey Mill Craft Village and Tintern Old Station, a delightful country park with an award winning tea room based in the station's old ticket office.

For more information please click on the following links
Tintern Abbey
Abbey Mill
Tintern Old Station
Visit Wye Valley

Wonders of Wye

Tintern AbbeyThe Wye Valley and Vale of Usk is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it's not difficult to see why. 

The rolling countryside is a magnet for walkers with some well-known and popular trails including the Offa's Dyke Path.  It is also where the Wales Coast Path begins (or ends, depending on which way around you're going).  In fact, Offa's Dyke and the coast path join up so that you can complete a whole circuit of Wales if you really want to!

The plenty of historic attractions too.  There are castles galore including the first one to be built at Chepstow and the last one too at Raglan.  One of the most impressive monuments is Tintern Abbey standing proudly on the banks of the River Wye. 

Why not combine walking with history by doing the Three Castles Walk which is a 20 mile triangular walk taking in White Castle, Skenfirth Castle and Grosmont Castle.

The area also has a reputation for excellent food.  There are plenty of top class restaurants or cosy country pubs to choose from whilst Abergavenny's Angel Hotel is renowned for its Afternoon Teas - well worth indulging.  Don't miss the Abergavenny Food Festival each September which is an excellent chance to see (and of course taste) the best of the area's produce.

For more information on the area please visit the website

Tour de Cymru

Event - Tour of Britain
Location - The Tumble, Abergavenny
Date - 9 September 2014
For more information visit the website

Fresh from hosting the British National Road Race Championships in June, top class cycling returns to Abergavenny this September as the town hosts the finish of the 3rd stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain.

The race has finished in Caerphilly for the past three years and has seen tens of thousands of people flock to the town and nearby Caerphilly Mountain to catch a glimpse of the action and create a superb party atmosphere.

The fans are sure to be out in force this year as well, with the riders taking on a route that will see them start out in the Mid Wales town of Newtown. 

The peleton will continue south with the road taking them through Knighton, Builth Wells and Brecon and over some tough climbs in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  The action will then culminate with a climb to the top of the Tumble Mountain above Abergavenny, a route that could suit local favourite Geraint Thomas.

The cyclists taking part will be confirmed nearer the time, but previous participants have included former world champions Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish, current Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana  and ex-Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

A Feast of Festivals

This autumn, Southern Wales will be awash with food festivals, celebrating the very best in local food and drink.

The first festival of the season takes place in the picturesque surroundings of the St Fagans National History Museum on the weekend of 6-7 September.  Located on the outskirts of Cardiff, the 100 acre site houses many of Wales' most historic buildings and interspersed amongst them will be dozens of stalls serving up some hearty treats.  Cheeses, ciders and ice creams will be amongst some of the goodies you can indulge in.

Just two weeks later (20-21 September), the biggest food festival of them all hits Abergavenny. Now in its 16th year, the event is as popular as ever.

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies, will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.  The various venues are situated close together and include the Market Hall, the Cheese and Wine Show, and Grillstock.

Complementing the stalls are a variety of master classes, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, storytelling and live music.

The following weekend (26-27 Septemerb), it's time for something slightly different with Bridgend's Food Festival.  Called Feastival, and billed as Wale's Alternative Food Festival, there's always something different or unusual going on.  Previous years' activities have included the Giant Cauliflour Sheep (you really do need to watch this YouTube video), the Leaning Tower of Pizza and the Orange-utan.

Finally, it's Newport's turn with its festival on Saturday 4th October.  Amongst all the usual stalls there'll be an array of talks, demonstrations and  workshops for you to enjoy.

For more information on any of these festivals, click on the links below
St Fagans Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival
Bridgend Feastival
Newport Food Festival

Pedal Power

Event - Cycling, National Road Race Championships
Location - Abergavenny

Date - 26 - 29 June 2014

Website for further details


This week saw British Cycling unveil the race routes of the 2014 National Road Race and Time Trial Championships.  The event will be based in Abergavenny but the routes of the various races will take in most of the Monmouthshire countryside.

The elite Men's Road Race will see household names battle it out over a tough 183km course.  Sprinter Mark Cavendish will be the defending champion, but the route might be a bit too hilly for him.  Amongst the favourites will be Tour de France champion Chris Froome and Cardiff's Geraint Thomas.

The women's road race will be held over shorter 71km course, but promises to be just as tough.  Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead will be the clear favourite.

The time trial course, based at Newport's Celtic Manor, is 40km long and is sure to feature 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins as he goes head to head with the winner of one of the 2013 Giro d'Italia time trial stages, Alex Dowsett. 

The 20km long women's time trial coast will see defending champion Joanna Rowsell attempt to defend her title against the likes of Elinor Barker and Joanna Trott.

The Hidden Gardens of Dewstow

Whilst we've already mentioned some of Wales best attractions that are well known about, we also have a lot of hidden gems.

Dewstow Gardens, near Chepstow is quite literary one of Southern Wales' hidden gems. The gardens were originally built around the turn of the 20th century and included all the things you'd expect in gardens - rockeries, ponds, water features and loads of plants and shrubs etc.  But the highlight was a subterranean world of tunnels and grottoes housing many tropical and unusual plants.

Over the years the gardens fell into disrepair and the tunnels and grottoes were filled in and forgotten about.  That is until the start of the 20th century when the land's new owners started clearing the land.  Curiosity got the better of them so they started digging and were amazed to discover the network of tunnels that had laid undiscovered for over 50 years.

A massive restoration project was undertaken and today the gardens have been restored to their former glory so that we can enjoy what was hidden away for decades.

To find out more about Dewstow Gardens click here

Party Time

It's the Summer Festival Season (although the summer bit seems to be optional at the moment).

Anyway, this weekend it's time for the Croissant Neuf Summer Party.  And despite it's French sounding name it's actually taking place in Usk in Monmouthshire.

The festival is now in its sixth year and is set in beautiful surroundings of the Monmouthshire countryside.  It is a family friendly event and the weekend is packed full of bands, games, activities and workshops to keep everyone entertained.

The festival is also proud of its Green credentials and was recently Highly Commended in the Green Parent Festival Awards 2011 with much of the energy powering the festival coming from solar energy.  Even the food stalls offer fresh, organic and locally sourced food and drink.

For a full list of the artists performing and other information on the festival then please go to their website

Spotlight on Wye Valley

Sugar Loaf MountainTo celebrate the launching of the new Visit Wye Valley website, we are taking a closer look at this picturesque corner of Wales.

The Wye Valley and Vale of Usk is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it's not difficult to see why.  The rolling countryside is a magnet for walkers with some well known and popular trails including the Offa's Dyke Path.

The plenty of historic attractions too.  There are castles galore including the first one to be built at Chepstow and the last one too at Raglan.  One of the most impressive monuments is Tintern Abbey standing proudly on the banks of the River Wye.  There are also significant Roman remains at the nearby towns of Caerwent and Caerleon, including an amphithteatre and barraks for the soldiers.

Why not combine walking with history by doing the Three Castles Walk which is a 20 mile triangular walk taking in White Castle, Skenfirth Castle and Grosmont Castle.

This area was catapulted into the international spotlight last October when the Celtic Manor hosted Golf's Ryder Cup - one of the country's top Golf resorts.  Or if you prefer horse racing then see if you can back a winner at Chepstow Racecourse.

The area also has a reputation for excellent food.  Don't miss the Abergavenny Food Festival each September which is an excellent chance to see (and of course taste) the best of the area's produce.  It's in the Wye Valley that you'll also find two of Wales' Michelin starred restaurants - The Walnut Tree at Abergavenny and The Crown at Whitbrook.

Hidden Gem

Dewstow Gardens near Chepstow in Monmouthshire is one of Wales' hidden gems.  The gardens were originally built in the late 19th century but were buried in the 1940s and lay undiscovered for over 50 years until they were discovered by accident in 2000.  A huge restoration project was undertaken and now the gardens have been restored to their former glory.  The gardens contain many ponds and rills but also they contain a remarkable labyrinth of underground tunnels, grottoes and sunken ferneries. 

www.dewstow.co.uk

Pick a winner at Chepstow Racecourse

Chepstow RacecourseThere can be no more picturesque setting for a racecourse, just north of the historic border town of Chepstow in the beautiful Wye Valley.  Horse racing has been held here since 1926 and is one of only 3 racecourses in Wales.

The location is impressive as is the range of racing on offer throughout the year.  There are 30 race days scheduled for 2011 including both over jumps and on the flat. 

The highlight each year is undoubtedly the Welsh Grand National.  First held at Chepstow in 1948 it continues to be staged each December.  The race is the biggest and most popular race in Wales and is considered one of the major events of the National Hunt season.