Tintern Abbey


We cross the Severn River, the boundary between England and Wales, on our way to Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey lies at the edge of the Forest of Dean, one of the few remaining old forests in Britain, and we are hoping to see the “wild green landscape”, and to hear the “still, sad music of humanity” of  Wordsworth’s poem.  And yes, I re-read it before we went.

A narrow, two lane road, canopied by interlocked tree branches, or, as Nico says, tree tunnels,  leads us through ever steeper hillsides cut through by the Wye River towards Tintern itself. Fortunately for us,  and all other fans of WW, the forest is protected and probably hasn’t changed much since his time. After a few miles we see the soaring Gothic towers  of the abbey  slicing through the sky. We are lucky today; the sky is blue with picture-perfect clouds floating through it.

The abbey ruins are haunting, even under a blue sky. Much of the 12th century abbey was replaced by subsequent building in the 13th and 14th
2010 June Hereford, Wales, Ludlow Malvern 006
centuries in the Gothic style of the time.


The 16th century Reformation and Cromwell then took care to cart away anything valuable and let the abbey decay into the magnificent rubble it is today. The Wye River runs alongside it, and steep, heavily forested hllls stretch away on the south side.

We lunch at the Abbey Hotel instead of the modern pub lower down, because it looked like it beonged to the site. This was, however,
2010 June Hereford, Wales, Ludlow Malvern 001
a big mistake. The ratatouille wrapped in puff pastry sounded good, but the vegetables were greasy and the puff pastry soggy. BC’s Ploughman’s lunch (ham, cheeses, bread, and pickled onion) was okay, with unusually delicious ham and a satisfyingly spicy orange cheese.

Tonight we will be dining in a very good restaurant, so it is just as well I saved myself the calories.

2 thoughts on “Tintern Abbey

  1. James Mauch

    I’ve often thought that Wordsworth’s experience as reiterated in the poem “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” is a sterling example of what the psychologist Abraham Maslow 150 years or so later called a “peak experience.” To my mind, it’s a great poem–one that I’ve reread many times over the years.