In my grand tour of the United Kingdom, I spent a few days with some college friends in Bristol, England. They were AMAZING hosts and decided to take me on a mini road trip around nearby Wales. The first stop on our adventure was to go hiking (I desperately needed some nature besides a botanical garden). After driving for a little bit and crossing over the Severn Bridge, we reached Wyndcliff Forest. We started off at the Lower Forest car park and climbed up the 365 Stairs to Eagles Nest Viewpoint. From there we we were able to admire the river below as well as the bridge connecting Wales and England. The hike wasn’t too long or strenuous and the pictures were killer, so I think it was well with the thigh workout up all the steps. And I certainly felt more justified eating the ice cream from Marshfield Farm that afternoon!
Our second stop was in the town of Tintern to visit the Tintern Abbey. Originally a monastery, this place turned into the main church for the community during the 13th century. But it became the hub of monastic life as more and more monks flocked to Tintern during the height of the Middle Ages. But with the Black Death of the mid-1300s (killing off 50% of Europe’s population) and the Protestant Reformation of the mid-1500s (courtesy of English King Henry VIII’s divorce causing a break from the Catholic Church – aka the monk’s mother church) monastic life came to an end in England. The struggle with the new Protestant monarch versus the monks ended in 1536. And no surprise here, the monks lost and Tintern Abbey was left in ruins. In the 1700s, it became popular to vacay in the more “wild” parts of the country and Tintern Abbey was a hit once more! It certainly was a hit in my book as well! How can you not love Gothic architecture with grass and natural lighting?!?!