Just a quick walk to Llanthony Priory….or so I thought

Hello All,

Continuing the theme of following my not so recent holiday, here’s the next day that is worth mentioning, a walk I took over the start of the Black Mountains (not to be confused with the Black Mountain, still in Wales but some miles back and a singular peak as opposed to a collection, still yet to be traversed by me) to a little village called Llanthony where there’s the ruins of a Priory. Booooring…more history, I hear you all say but feel free to take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanthony_Priory if you fancy.

Pshaw! You need to be interested in your surroundings but if there is one lesson you should learn from this post it is take the proper map. I had furnished myself with an Ordnance Survey the week before but, little did I know that detailed though it was, it was a Tour map and wasn’t as detailed as I needed it to be. However, at this stage and after parking the wheels, I ventured on my way. Ignorance is bliss so they say. First hiccup that had me furrowing my brow was the lack of signage for the Offa’s Dyke Path (which is what I was to follow for the day) but I found a likely candidate eventually and was immediately underwhelmed as to the path which looked a touch overgrown. Never mind, I carried on distracted by views such as this…..

A green and pleasant land indeed

A green and pleasant land indeed

Eventually, I grew mildly perturbed at the lack of signs. Out with the map. Ah, this isn’t the right one. Whilst it was fine for me to zip around in my motor, it was woefully inadequate for walking. Woops. Never mind I thought, I’m heading up, I just continue to climb surely. How hard could that be? Quite hard, it turned out but as luck would have it, I passed a Duke of Edinburgh group on the same path so I figured I couldn’t be far off the right bit. This was tempered by then being assailed by the group tutor or whatever he was running up to me and asking if I had seen a group of youngsters pass by; “Why, yes, I have” I replied, “Oh God, they’re going the wrong way!” he shouted as he ran off. Oh, maybe this is the wrong path. I was sure I could find a route up from here so I kept going and, more luck, arrived at the place the DofE guys had parked up and one was stood there….with the right map! Sweeet. So, after a quick chat (where I discovered he was a Kiwi when he then warmed to me as most people though he was an Aussie) and much finger pointing, I knew I was heading in the right direction.

Looking back towards the English border

Looking back towards the English border

Man alive, this walking business was hard work but the views, as you see, were well worth it. After my quick stop at the top of the bluff, I continued on. The path was well-worn by this stage so no more navigation issues…apart from keeping an acceptable distance behind some noisy DofE teenagers. Lunch stop was along the ridge in a hollow slate cairn of sorts I found which sheltered me from the wind somewhat.

A very nice place to stop and have a rest atop the bluff

A very nice place to stop and have a rest atop the bluff

Not sure if it was a modern one but it had a fair bit of lichen on it so I though it was at least a few years old. So, down with my salad, tortilla chips and squash (thanks again Lidl) and I was greeted with a lovely view down into the village of Llanthony in its textbook glacial valley. Nice.

Looking down into the valley; you may just be able to see Llanthony

Looking down into the valley; you may just be able to see Llanthony

Along the ridge I wandered, the gap between the teens and myself was now so large I could no longer hear then shrieking about One Direction or whatever so I was happy just to stand and absorb the view before heading down the (very muddy) path towards the ruin. This took some doing I tell you, there were bits you proper had to jump and climb over rocks and the clouds were getting greyer so there was an added pressure. because I had put away the camera to stop it swinging and possible damage, I then missed the RAF Tornado that flew into the valley below me. Awesome! Those guys don’t half have some fun. I dare say it would have been a terrible blurry shot but I kicked myself for that. Never mind.

Descending towards the ruins. The path looks fine here, but it got worse!

Descending towards the ruins. The path looks fine here, but it got worse!

It wasn’t too long before I emerged from the path to a clearing and saw the signs to the Priory. Firstly I had to navigate the collapsed teens at the gate who seemingly aren’t used to any exercise save for their thumbs when they are on their iPhones, but came out of the forest to see my destination ahead…..

A very picturesque Llathony Priory, thanks to the horses!

A very picturesque Llanthony Priory, thanks to the horses!

Having eaten and drunk but pretty much burnt off the calories somersaulting down the trail, I was gagging for a cuppa at the very least. Alas, when I got there, the blooming cafe was closed due to season. Bloody hell! I can’t understand why the tourist season is so rigid…well, I can, it’s all about money and running costs but come on, a little buffer would be good for us who need to avoid school holidays! Mind you, the manicured grounds and the fact I didn’t have to pay for a ticket to wander was a plus.

The view into the nave of the Priory. Impressive, Mr Bond

The view into the nave of the Priory. Impressive, Mr Bond

Seems the DofE lot were camped here as they all rolled down the hills (literally in a couple of instances) breaking the silence about 20 minutes after me. Lucky beggars, I still had to walk to the car but it was only a short way…..or at least I though until I saw the “not to scale” on my second-rate map. Took me over an hour to get back and it started to rain on me!! Never mind, it was a lovely day and I got the views at the best part of the day. Next time, it’s an OS Landranger map all the way.

Next week. Maybe a bit of weather. Haven’t post weather here for ages, so a break from my travels for a change. Ta-ra!

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