On a misty winter morning in the Wye Valley, Tintern’s ancient abbey, flanked by tall limestone cliffs, takes on a hallowed appearance.
It’s an ironic sight, and one best considered over a pint of ale at The Brockweir Inn.
1. Riverside walk
Start in the charming village of Brockweir. Walk through the village, pass the pub and the Moravian church and turn right through a gate to take the broad path beside the river. You’ll spot glimpses of Tintern’s tiny, now defunct railway station across the water.
Gradually the path moves away from the river and into woodland, where the bare trees offer a constantly changing viewpoint. At the end of a stone wall, turn sharp left onto a path signposted to The Devil’s Pulpit. At a junction, continue on the path to the right, climbing steeply through woodland. At a second track division, turn left. The way is now through ancient woodland, with gnarled trees and moss-covered boulders, which in winter looks like the setting for a Grimm fairy tale.
2. Devil’s pulpit
When you arrive at the Offa’s Dyke long distance trail, turn right to reach The Devil’s Pulpit. This is a rock pinnacle rising up from the cliff edge, from where (legend has it) the devil would preach to the monks below, attempting to convert them to evil. On a crisp winter’s day it’s a peaceful place to drink in the magnificent view.
3. Homeward bound
Down in the valley are the ruins of the 12th-century Cistercian Abbey at Tintern, while the river itself goes through a tight horseshoe bend, backed by wooded hillsides. Retrace your steps along Offa’s Dyke and back to the village.