travel

An (almost completely free) guide to Monmouthshire and Symonds Yat

Hey guys!

Phew, it’s been a while since my last post. I’m basically in stress central writing my final year honours project report for uni. Looking forward to getting it submitted in August and being freeeee 🎉

Anyway, as some of you that follow me on social media will know, last month I went away with my family to Wales. It was so lovely, I’d just finished final year exams as well so it was the perfect timing for a break! We found some absolute gems of places to visit whilst there and I wanted to share some of our days out, in case you find yourself in the area! 😊 this guide might be particularly handy for anyone on a budget as most places were free to visit! However, we enjoyed ourselves so much we left donations wherever we went.

Tintern Abbey

This beautiful medieval abbey was the first to be built in Wales and is the best preserved! The oldest parts of the remains date back to 1131!

This was such an interesting place to walk around, with plaques in most parts of the remains detailing the way of life of the monks who inhabited the abbey. I’m a sucker for history!

The abbey cost £6.90 per adult, which is relatively cheap for a place like this (especially compared to similar places in England!) However, in the grand scale of things, some other places we went to probably just pipped Tintern Abbey to the post..and they were free!

However a trip to Tintern is well worth it as it’s also a beautiful place to walk around! It has some lovely little shops, cafes and pubs to visit. One particularly AMAZING shop we discovered was Spirit of the Greenman. Me and my mum are slightly obsessed with anything greenman/fantasy/magical related so this shop was perfection! Plus the owner was absolutely lovely. We bought some goodies and had to try stop ourselves from buying the whole shop!

Caldicot Castle and Country Park

This was one of my favourite places that we visited! I still cannot believe it was free to get in and you don’t even have to pay to park..what is this madness?! This castle is set in THE most beautiful ground and woodlands, the perfect place to visit with our dog for a walk after touring the castle!

The castle was constructed in the 13th century and there are so many fascinating stories surrounding the castle right up until the 20th century! For example, following the second world war, the owner turned parts of the castle into furnished apartments to help those that needed accommodation.

Many of the rooms are furnished with Victorian furniture from when the Cobb family owned the castle. Plaques provide information about what the rooms were used for throughout various eras and you never know what you’re going to discover next!

Symonds Yat Rock (a few miles from Monmouthshire)

As some of you know, I was chosen as the residential intern for the RSPB Peregrine Falcon Project at Symonds Yat Rock. Unfortunately, following my accident earlier this year I had to make a devastating decision and accept that I wasn’t going to be well enough to go ahead with it.

However, we couldn’t go to this beautiful part of the world without visiting the site! We’ve been on holiday in this area a few times over the years and this is a place we love. The last time I went I was quite young so I was looking forward to visiting again!

The site has beautiful forest trails for walks, a log cabin cafe and a viewing point which offers THE most incredible views! Again, the site is free, you just have to pay for parking!

These photos are taken from the viewing point where you can see the Peregrine Falcons if you’re lucky..and we were! The RSPB volunteer had the telescopes set up and sure enough, there was the male Peregrine! The guy told us it was likely that the female was on the nest and her trusty partner was keeping watch. It was incredible, I’ve never seen one before and I won’t forget it in a hurry!

Blaenavon Ironworks

FREE again! The ironworks commenced production in 1789 and in the 19th century was one of the most important producers of iron in the world.

The site shows how life was for working families through the refurbished Stack Square cottages in which they lived. Each cottage has been refurbished in the style of various eras ranging from 1790 to 1944. There is something extremely eerie about standing in these cottages today where the families lived in times when life was not easy!

This place really makes you value what you have today and how life has changed. In the 19th century, children as young as six years old were working here in dreadful conditions for 12 hours a day! I was completely fascinated throughout the whole tour.

I had the best time visiting Wales and can’t wait to go back and I hope you enjoyed my mini tour!

Until next time..

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