This morning was bright and sunny after a very clear starry night sky. Unfortunately it was not set to last and cloud set in about midday. Still, no rain so must be grateful for small mercies.
We decided to head south towards the Welsh border and stopped at the Old Station Tintern, in the Wye valley, which has been transformed into a popular riverside café. The railway line closed in 1959 but it must have been a magnificent journey by steam train from Chepstow to Monmouth. The local council paid for these carvings of famous medieval ‘celebrities’ to be created from trees by the river.
After a delicious homemade ice cream we set off with the printout of the walk I had found online. It was a two mile walk along the river and across the bridge to Brockweir, on the Gloucestershire side of the river. Brockweir is the highest point on the Wye for deep water vessels and in the 18th and 19th centuries was the centre of riverside commerce; shipbuilding and transhipping of goods from coastal boats to small barges able to go further upstream.
A lane led out of the village, amongst higgledy-piggledy cottages and after a short distance we crossed over a very old metal stile, walking down to the river and back towards the village again. Apparently we were walking along part of Offa’s Dyke Path that runs for 177 miles from the Severn Estuary near Chepstow to Prestatyn in North Wales. Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD and controlled much of southern England at the time.
Back in the village we found the 14th century Monks Hall and then, down a narrow path next to the weir, we came upon the Moravian Church. Apparently, with its riverside trade, Brockweir had a rather poor reputation in the early 19th century. It had 16 inns but no church! The chapel was built in 1832 on the site of a former cockpit and is still used to this day. Originating from what is now Slovakia, the Moravians came to this country in the 19th century and established their simple churches in various places.
The walk back to the Old Station was along the same path, the sun remaining obstinately behind the clouds unfortunately. We got back into Bessie and continued on the road to Tintern and the magnificent ruin of Tintern Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian ruin.