Monmouthshire Castles

Trip Start Jan 03, 2009
Trip End Jan 03, 2009

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

The saying - "you don't appreciate what's on your doorstep" is often true... I grew up in south Wales, Helena grew up in Newcastle (Geordie Land). As a result, it was a subject of some discussion in our home that we should go and do the ' Monmouthshire Castles' run from our home at Abergavenny.

Many things conspired to stop us, like visiting places far away, Helena having to watch me race dirt bikes, us walking the dogs.... and so on, you get the picture.....

The catalyst for the tour was the acquisition of a pair of the most popular motorcycles in the world - Mr Honda's celebrated C90 !! We have built up the bikes as a project, and I used mine back and forth work, but Helena's was a 'sort of' a Xmas present - again, I suppose that "if I had to explain, you probably wouldn't understand" fits the bill....

Our first adventures, building up to a European trip in the spring found us out and about around Abergavenny on New Year's day - in the cold and frost. This then led on to a decision to have a longer day out the next day. Helena, oblivious of the destination, followed along the lanes out from Abergavenny towards Hereford. We turned onto a lane parallel to the A465 Hereford Road - I am sure that she thought I had planned the trip when we found that the freezing weather causing droppings of frost under trees led to 2" of 'snow' - generally over a brow on a bend caused Helena moments of panic.... all sorted though..

Our first stop was the historic castle at Grosmont. This used to be a significant location for the Marcher Lords. 20 years ago, this was a small village, but is one of those 'under development' and has a large number of new homes.

After a quick stop, we ventured off along the lanes towards Cross Ash, where we dropped into Skenfrith to see our next castle. The village is well worth a  visit, as there is so much to see.

Leaving Skenfrith, we drove up past the lovely Hilston Park, via Lettravane, back to Cross Ash, before turning towards Llanvetherine. Just after Cross Ash, we turned into the lanes, making our way towards White Castle.

Our visit here was limited due to the fact that we were.... quite honestly . . . freezing ! We dropped down the hill into Llantillio Crosenny, then took the Raglan road through the village. Helena was very surprised when we stopped outsid the Lam Rim Bhuddist Centre which she was totally unaware of. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visited the refuge in the '90's, and it looks a lovely place to spend time.... When I feel the need for a break I know where I'll be heading....

We went on to Raglan, where the castle sits proud on the ridge over the village.

After a brief halt, we ploughed on across the old road to Abergavenny. Once at the castle, we took our last pictures of the day at Abergavenny castle. Our trip was 50+ miles, and at no time did we get more than 12 miles from Abergavenny !

We had a really enjoyable time, and marvelled at the workmanship and commitment of the people who built the castles. They are a true testiment to the need to maintain a border between the English and those wild creatures, the Welsh!

As a part of history, they are a wonderful series, which can be visited, with families, in a day. If you have an early start, please include Chepstow castle and Tintern Abbey.

The trip is worth the time, enjoy !!!!!

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