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From the academic and architectural wonders of Oxford travelling to an alternative natural wonder of the Royal Forest of Dean in the beautiful Wye Valley was almost a mental relief, if not a physical one.
Jean-Marc and I had planned a 3-day sojourn in this fascinating corner of England, near to the Welsh border with some long-distance country-walking thrown in (Jean-Marc loves his regular randonnées in France!)
So, what about the Royal Forest of Dean in the Wye Valley!?
The lower Wye Valley journeys from in the north; Hereford the historic capital of the Wye Valley in the County of Herefordshire through the County of Gloucestershire to Chepstow in the Welsh County of Monmouthshire, separating the borders between England and Wales.
The natural beauty of the area is unrivalled, with each season bringing its own delights. From the spring and summer greenery to the magical feeling of autumn mists and snow capped hills.
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971, the beauty of the area has been attracting visitors for centuries. The Wye Valley with the most breathtaking natural scenery in Britain combines a unique blend of Welsh and English influences.Fought over for centuries by the English and the Welsh and many more before them has awesome castles around every bend and twist in the River Wye, hawks soaring over the fields and forests, and secret places along every stream. bustling market towns, fresh-farm produce, an artisan tradition, generous hospitality, and sunshine and showers,the Wye Valley is a captivating experience that treats the senses at any time of year.
The Wye Valley is steeped in rich industrial heritage, and near the town of Abergavenny lies the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site where visitors can go underground with a miner and uncover real stories about people from the past.
In Newport there is an extensive public art trail which includes statues and mosaic murals commemorating the Chartists fight for democracy. As well as this, there is also the Nelson Museum in Monmouth which has one of the worlds best collections about Britain’s most famous admiral, and even includes his fake glass eye!
Jean-Marc and I headed for Gloucester, and eventually a small, sleepy village called Blackeney where we found the slightly bizarre, ‘Old Nibley Farmhouse’. This became our comfortable residence for two nights.
www.oldnibleyfarmhouse.co.uk – we can definitely recommend it as a great base for exploring the Royal Forest of Dean and The Wye Valley. But… don’t forget to bring your slippers!
Part 4 of “Our Man from the Roannais” series will continue soon with a journey into Shakespeare’s Country!