The last trip I completed from the farm before the coronavirus shutdown was a walk with the poet Wordsworth with a side helping of the artists Turner and Gilpin.
First leg was a route to Tintern for lunch at the Anchor, which had just re-opened after extensive flooding and served a fantastic temporary menu given the disruption they had endured.
The second leg took us over the old railway bridge to England and up onto Offas Dyke all the way back to Wales and Chepstow for a few pints in the Three Tuns and Queen’s Head finished off with a curry.
As ever the landscapes we passed through were stunning and reminded me of the poem by William Wordsworth written after a visit to the area. “Therefore am I still / A lover of the meadows and the woods, / And mountains; and of all that we behold / From this green earth; of all the mighty world”
His poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” was probably written after a visit to the Devil’s Pulpit on Offas Dyke where old Nick would stand on his rock and tempt the monks away from their saintly devotions. It is worth the effort of the climb from Tintern as you can see from the photograph at the top of this blog.
Standing at the same spot looking down on the valley in the afternoon on our walk his words could not have been more appropriate: ““The sounding cataract/Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me/ An appetite; a feeling and a love”
Priceless but as it turns out you can put a price of one aspect of Tintern Abbey: £20.
If you are lucky enough to have a crisp new £20 note fish it out of your wallet or purse and hold it up to the light with the Queen looking down at you. Just in the bottom right hand corner there is a transparent window inspired by the Abbey.
The new £20 note, which was issued in February 2020, celebrates the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner who visited Tintern in 1792 and made a series of engravings of the Abbey which are now in the Tate Gallery.
Wordsworth made his first visit the year after but returned in 1798 and composed his famous poem.
Both men were part of a wave of tourists who flocked to the Wye Valley. 2020 is the 250th anniversary of the artist William Gilpin taking the Wye Tour in 1770, an event which many believe was the birth of British tourism. He published a book, ‘Observations on the River Wye’, which was perhaps the first ever tour guide. It helped to inspire the Wye Tour, the world’s first package holiday trip. He also invented the word “picturesque” to describe the beautiful valley.
How blessed we are to live here and to be able to offer visitors the opportunity to explore this beautiful part of Britain.
Hopefully, it will not be long before we can start to invite visitors to stay with us again. July maybe? I hope so.
The new £20 note features a transparent window based on Tintern Abbey as depicted by the artist Turner in a series of famous engravings
The Tintern Abbey doorway that most resembles the transparent “window” found on the new £20 note
We finished our walk at Chepstow Castle. Conveniently the Three Tuns pub is next door.