Monmouthshire; the gorgeous gateway into Wales for most Southerners in England. So what hides in these rolling rural hills?
Plenty! I wonder how many of you haven’t realised the offerings in this area when commuting straight for Newport, Cardiff and beyond?
Dotted with charming towns (Abergavenny, Chepstow, Raglan…) with impressive Castle’s, the region is crammed with history and culture stemming back to the Norman and Ancient Roman eras.
One town that I recently explored is Usk. I came here frequently as a child, so I was excited to return once again.
Around twenty minutes by car from the Severn bridge, the town is ideally placed before venturing deeper into Wales.
Most of my time on this trip was spent at Usk Castle. There’s a free car park close by that’s usually open until 5pm – here’s a LINK.
Passing an old railway tunnel (above), and thin woodland is the gates to this historic landmark. There’s no charge to enter, but the owner’s appreciate donations.
In the early 1st century (AD), a timber castle existed on the site before many repairs and rebuilds. This includes Henry II’s construction work in 1185, costing £10 and 13 shillings!*
The central area is an open garden with many stone castle towers surrounding you – including a chapel and banquet hall. The picture below is the view of the garden from within the Great hall remains.
The owner’s have supplied signage to give you extra insight about the castle and its surroundings.
In the mid-ground above is a priory and Church established in the 1100’s containing what’s thought to be the oldest Welsh brass inscription*.
Blessed with crisp winter sunshine the day before, I was treated to showery winter weather this time around. Having said that, it made my stop off in Usk Garden Centre’s Café an even sweeter experience!
A few days later, the weather turned once more. I captured this spectacular sunset just a few miles further west, looking over the M4.
For more information about Usk Castle, here is a link to their website: http://www.uskcastle.com/
Interested in history? Take a look at my tour of the Ancient Roman Town of Caerleon by clicking here.
*Information obtained from signage at Usk Castle.