Friday, April 30, 2004

Cistercian Monks

On to Wales and M was really looking forward to visiting Tintern Abbey. It was only the second Cistercian monastry in Britain, and the first in Wales, and was founded on 9 May 1131 by Walter de Clare, lord of Chepstow, although the present ruins date from the 1300s. We were totally blown away by the Abbey. I just can't believe the workmanship. The stonemasons were true craftsmen, the detail in the carvings is spectacular. Henry VIII, in the mid 1500s, brought about the demise of the monastries mostly to gain from their riches than from religious conviction I suspect

We briefly dashed back into England as the quickest way to North Wales, seeing some spectacular scenery on the way especially looking toward Criccieth Castle which sits high and majestic on a rocky promontory which juts out into Tremadog Bay. The earliest mention Criccieth Castle is found in the Welsh chronicles, the Brut y Tywysogyon, in the year 1239 and there is a combination of both Welsh and English ruins.

The land is, once again, very lush and green, so different from Australia. We found a delightful bed and breakfast within walking distance of the station for the The Ffestiniog Railway (a must on M's list) so are staying overnight at Bod Hyfryd in the village of Minffordd, between Penrhyndeudraeth and Porthmadog. Iris runs the place although sadly is off to Cornwall soon - maybe we can catch up on our next visit to England as we won't make it to Cornwall this time!The place is very luxurious, similar standard to Bradle Farm, the china is superb and made locally at the famous Portmeirion pottery.

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