The Wye Valley: Other travellers

Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening (1770)
William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye (1771)
Richard Warner, A Walk Through Wales, in August 1797 (1801)

See also travel descriptions provided in Geography.

Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening, illustrated by descriptions (Dublin: John Exshaw, 1770).

The New Weir

A scene at the New Weir on the Wye, which in itself is truly great and awful, so far from being disturbed, becomes more interesting and important, by the business to which it is destined. It is a chasm between two high ranges of hill, which rise almost [P 115] perpendicularly from the water; the rocks on the sides are mostly heavy masses; and their colour is generally brown; but here and there a pale craggy shape starts up to a vast heighth above the rest, unconnected, broken, and bare: large trees frequently force out their way amongst them; and many of them stand far back in the covert, where their natural dusky hue is deepened by the shadow which overhangs them. The river too, as it retires, loses itself in woods which close immediately above, then rise thick and high, and darken the water. In the midst of all this gloom is an iron forge, covered with a black cloud of smoak, and surrounded with half burned ore, with coal, and with cinders; the fuel for it is brought down a path, worn into steps, narrow and steep, and winding among precipices; and near it is an open space of barren moor, about which are scattered the huts of the workmen. It stands close to the cascade of the Weir, where the agitation of the current is encreased by large fragments of rocks, which have been swept down by floods from the banks, or shivered by tempests from the brow; and the sullen sound, at stated intervals, from the strokes of the great hammers in the forge, deadens the roar of the water-fall. Just below it, while the rapidity of the stream still continues, a ferry is carried across it; and lower down the [P 116] fishermen use little round boats, called truckles, the remains perhaps of the ancient British navigation, which the least motion will overset, and the slightest touch may destroy. All the employments of the people seem to require either exertion or caution; and the ideas of force or of danger which attend them, give to the scene an animation unknown to a solitary, though perfectly compatible with the wildest romantic situations.

But marks of inhabitants must not be carried to the length of cultivation, which is too mild for the ruggedness of the place, and has besides an air of chearfulness inconsistent with the character of terror; a little inclination towards melancholy is generally acceptable, at least to the exclusion of all gaiety and beyond that point, so far as to throw just a tinge of gloom upon the scene. For this purpose, the objects whose colour is obscure should be preferred; and those which are too bright may be thrown into shadow; the wood may be thickened, and the dark greens abound in it; if it is necessarily thin, yews and shabby firs should be scattered about it; and sometimes, to shew a withering or a dead tree, it may for a space be cleared entirely away. All such circumstances are acquisitions, if they can be had without detriment to the principal character; [P 117] for it must ever be remembered, that where terror prevails, melancholy is but a secondary consideration.

The different species of rocks often meet in the same place, and compose a noble scene, which is not distinguished by any particular character; it is only when one eminently prevails, that it deserves such a preference as to exclude every other. Sometimes a spot, remarkable for nothing but its wildness, is highly romantic; and when this wildness rises to fancy, when the most singular, the most opposite forms and combinations are thrown together, then a mixture also of several characters adds to the number of instances which there concur to display the inexhaustible variety of nature.

Tintern Abbey

[P 137]

To this great variety must be added the many changes which may be made by the means of ruins; they are a class by themselves, beautiful as objects, expressive as characters, and peculiarly calculated to connect with their appendages into elegant groupes: they may be accommodated with ease to irregularity of ground, and their disorder is improved by it; they may be intimately blended with trees and with thickets, and the interruption is an advantage; for imperfection and obscurity are their properties; and to carry the imagination to something greater than is seen, their effect. They may for any of these purposes be separated into detached pieces; contiguity is not necessary, nor even the appearance of it, if the relation be preserved; but straggling ruins have a bad effect, when the several parts are equally [P 138] considerable. There should be one large mass to raise an idea of greatness, to attract the others about it, and to be a common centre of union to all: the smaller pieces then mark the original dimensions of one extensive structure; and no longer appear to be the remains of several little buildings.

All remains excite an enquiry into the former state of the edifice, and fix the mind in a contemplation on the use it was applied to; besides the characters expressed by their style and position, they suggest ideas which would not arise from the buildings, if entire. The purposes of many have ceased; an abbey, or a castle, if complete, can now be no more than a dwelling; the memory of the times, and of the manners, to which they were adapted, is preserved only in history, and in ruins; and certain sensations of regret, of veneration, or compassion, attend the recollection: nor are these confined to the remains of buildings which are now in disuse; those of an old mansion raise reflections on the domestic comforts once enjoyed, and the ancient hospitality which reigned there. Whatever building we see in decay, we naturally contrast its present to its former state, and delight to ruminate on the comparison. It is true that such effects properly belong to real ruins; but they are produced in a certain degree by those which are fictitious; [P 139] the impressions are not so strong, but they are exactly similar; and the representation, though it does not present facts to the memory, yet suggests subjects to the imagination: but in order to affect the fancy, the supposed original design should be clear, the use obvious, and the form easy to trace; no fragments should be hazarded without a precise meaning, and an evident connection; none should be perplexed in their construction, or uncertain as to their application. Conjectures about the form, raise doubts about the existence of the ancient structure; the mind must not be allowed to hesitate; it must be hurried away from examining into the reality, by the exactness and the force of the resemblance.

In the ruins of Tintern abbey, the original construction of the church is perfectly marked; and it is principally from this circumstance that they are celebrated as a subject of curiosity and contemplation. The walls are almost entire; the roof only is fallen in; but most of the columns which divided the isles are still standing; of those which have dropped down, the bases remain, every one exactly in its place; and in the middle of the nave, four lofty arches, which [P 140] once supported the steeple, rise high in the air above all the rest, each reduced now to a narrow rim of stone, but completely preserving its form. The shapes even of the windows are little altered; but some of them are quite obscured, others partially shaded, by tufts of ivy, and those which are most clear, are edged with its slender tendrils, and lighter foliage, wreathing about the sides and the divisions; it winds round the pillars; it clings to the walls; and in one of the isles, clusters at the top in bunches so thick and so large, as to darken the space below. The other isles, and the great nave, are exposed to the sky; the floor is entirely overspread with turf; and to keep it clear from weeds and bushes, is now its highest preservation. Monkish tomb-stones, and the monuments of benefactors long since forgotten, appear above the greenswerd; the bases of the pillars which have fallen, rise out of it; and maimed effigies, and sculpture worn with age and weather, Gothic capitals, carved cornices, and various fragments, are scattered about, or lie in heaps piled up together. Other shattered pieces, though disjointed and mouldering, still occupy their original places; and a stair-case much impaired, which led to a tower now no more, is suspended at a great heighth, uncovered and inaccessible. Nothing is perfect; but memorials of every part still subsist; all certain, but all in [P 141] decay; and suggesting, at once, every idea which can occur in a seat of devotion, solitude, and desolation. Upon such models, fictitious ruins should be formed; and if any parts are entirely lost, they should be such as the imagination can easily supply from those which are still remaining. Distinct traces of the building which is supposed to have existed, are less liable to the suspicion of artifice, than an unmeaning heap of confusion. Precision is always satisfactory; but in the reality it is only agreeable; in the copy, it is essential to the imitation.

A material circumstance to the truth of the imitation, is, that the ruin appear to be very old; the idea is besides interesting in itself; a monument of antiquity is never seen with indifference; and a semblance of age may be given to the representation, by the hue of the materials; the growth of ivy, and other plants; and cracks and fragments seemingly occasioned rather by decay, than by destruction. An appendage evidently more modern than the principal structure, will sometimes corroborate the effect; the shed of a cottager, amidst the remains of a temple, is a contrast both to the former and the present state of the building; and a tree flourishing among ruins, shews the length of time they have lain neglected. No circumstance so forcibly marks the desolation of a [P 142] spot once inhabited, as the prevalence of nature over it:

Campos ubi Troja fuit
[the plain where Troy was (Virgil, Aeneid 3.11)]

is a sentence which conveys a stronger idea of a city totally overthrown, than a description of its remains; but in a representation to the eye, some remains must appear; and then the perversion of them to an ordinary use, or an intermixture of a vigorous vegetation, intimates a settled despair of their restoration.

William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, &c. Relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty: Made in the summer of the year 1770, 5th edition (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1800). [First edition 1771]

On Tintern Abbey

[P 47]

From Monmouth we reached, by a late breakfast-hour, the noble ruin of Tintern-abbey, which belongs to the Duke of Beaufort; and is esteemed, with its appendages, the most beautiful and picturesque view on the river.

Castles and abbeys have different situations, agreeable to their respective uses. The castle, [P 48] meant for defence, stands boldly on the hill; the abbey, intended for meditation, is hid in the sequestered vale.

Ah! happy thou, if one superior rock
Bear on its brow the shivered fragment huge
Of some old Norman fortress: happier far,
Ah! then most happy, if thy vale below
Wash, with the crystal coolness of its rills,
Some mould'ring abbey's ivy-vested wall.
[W. Mason, The English Garden: A Poem in Four Books. I.380-5]

Such is the situation of Tintern-abbey. It occupies a great eminence in the middle of a circular valley, beautifully screened on all sides by woody hills, through which the river winds its course; and the hills, closing on its entrance and on its exit, leave no room for inclement blasts to enter. A more pleasing retreat could not easily be found. The woods and glades intermixed; the winding of the river; the variety of the ground; the splendid ruin, contrasted with the objects of nature; and the elegant line formed by the summits of the hills which include the whole, make all together a very enchanting piece of scenery. Every thing around breathes an air so calm and tranquil, so sequestered from the commerce of life, that it is easy to conceive, a [P 49] man of warm imagination, in monkish times, might have been allured by such a scene to become an inhabitant of it.

No part of the ruins of Tintern is seen from the river except the abbey-church. It has been an elegant Gothic pile; but it does not make that appearance as a distant object which we expected. Though the parts are beautiful, the whole is ill-shaped. No ruins of the tower are left, which might give form and contrast to the buttresses and walls. Instead of this a number of gabel-ends hurt the eye with their regularity, and disgust it by the vulgarity of their shape. A mallet judiciously used (but who durst use it?) might be of service in fracturing some of them; particularly those of the cross isles, which are both disagreeable in themselves, and confound the perspective.

But were the building ever so beautiful, incompassed as it is with shabby houses, it could make no appearance from the river. From a stand near the road it is seen to more advantage.

But if Tintern-abbey be less striking as a distant object, it exhibits, on a nearer view, (when the whole together cannot be seen), [P 50] a very enchanting piece of ruin. The eye settles upon some of its nobler parts. Nature has now made it her own. Time has worn off all traces of the chisel: it has blunted the sharp edges of the rule and compass, and broken the regularity of opposing parts. The figured ornaments of the east-window are gone; those of the west window are left. Most of the other windows, with their principal ornaments, remain.

To these were superadded the ornaments of time. Ivy, in masses uncommonly large, had taken possession of many parts of the wall; and given a happy contrast to the grey-coloured stone of which the building is composed: nor was this undecorated. Mosses of various hues, with lychens, maiden-hair, penny-leaf, and other humble plants, had over-spread the surface, or hung from every joint and crevice. Some of them were in flower, others only in leaf; but all together gave those full-blown tints which add the richest finishing to a ruin.

Such is the beautiful appearance which Tintern-abbey exhibits on the outside, in those parts where we can obtain a nearer view of it. But when we enter it we see it in most [P 51] perfection; at least if we consider it as an independent object, unconnected with landscape. The roof is gone; but the walls, and pillars, and abutments which supported it are entire. A few of the pillars indeed have given way; and here and there a piece of the facing of the wall; but in corresponding parts one always remains to tell the story. The pavement is obliterated: the elevation of the choir is no longer visible: the whole area is reduced to one level, cleared of rubbish, and covered with neat turf, closely shorn; and interrupted with nothing but the noble columns which formed the isles and supported the tower.

When we stood at one end of this awful piece of ruin, and surveyed the whole in one view, the elements of air and earth, its only covering and pavement; and the grand and venerable remains which terminated both; perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity; the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the greatness, and the novelty of the scene. More picturesque it certainly would have been, if the area, unadorned, had been left with all its rough fragments of ruin [P 52] scattered round; and bold was the hand that removed them: yet as the outside of the ruin, which is the chief object of picturesque curiosity, is still left in all its wild and native rudeness, we excuse, perhaps we approve, the neatness that is introduced within: it may add to the beauty of the scene; its novelty it undoubtedly does.

Among other things in this scene of desolation, the poverty and wretchedness of the inhabitants were remarkable. They occupy little huts, raised among the ruins of the monastery, and seem to have no employment but begging; as if a place once devoted to indolence could never again become the seat of industry. As we left the abbey, we found the whole hamlet at the gate, either openly soliciting alms, or covertly, under the pretence of carrying us to some part of the ruins, which each could shew; and which was far superior to anything which could be shewn by any one else. The most lucrative occasion could not have excited more jealousy and contention.

[P 53]

One poor woman we followed, who had engaged to shew us the monks' library. She could scarcely crawl; shuffling along her palsied limbs and meagre contracted body by the help of two sticks. She led us through an old gate into a place overspread with nettles and briars; and pointing to the remnant of a shattered cloister, told us that was the place. It was her own mansion. All indeed she meant to tell us, was the story of her own wretchedness; and all she had to shew us, was her own miserable habitation. We did not expect to be interested as we were. I never saw so loathsome a human dwelling. It was a cavern loftily vaulted between two ruined walls, which streamed with various coloured stains of unwholesome dews. The floor was earth; yielding through moisture to the tread. Not the merest utensil or furniture of any kind appeared, but a wretched bedstead, spread with a few rags, and drawn into the middle of the cell to prevent its receiving the damp which trickled down the walls. At one end was an aperture, which served just to let in light enough to discover the wretchedness within.--When we stood in the midst of this cell [P 54] of misery, and felt the chilling damps which struck us in every direction, we were rather surprised that the wretched inhabitant was still alive, than that she had only lost the use of her limbs.

The country about Tintern-abbey hath been described as a solitary, tranquil silence; but its immediate environs only are meant. Within half a mile of it are carried on great iron-works, which introduce noise and bustle into these regions of tranquillity.

The ground about these works appears from the river to consist of grand woody hills, sweeping and intersecting each other in elegant lines. They are a continuation of the same kind of landscape as that about Tintern-abbey, and are fully equal to it.

As we still descend the river, the same scenery continues: the banks are equally steep, winding, and woody; and in some parts diversified by prominent rocks, and ground finely broken and adorned.

[P 55]

But one great disadvantage began to invade us. Hitherto the river had been clear and splendid; reflecting the several objects on its banks. But its waters now became ouzy and discoloured. Sludgy shores too appeared on each side; and other symptoms which discovered the influence of a tide.

Revd. Richard Warner, A Walk Through Wales, in August 1797 (London: G. & J. Robinson, 1801).

Along the Wye from Goodrich Castle to Tintern

[P 223]

Tintern, Aug. 30th.

Dear Sir,

Our expedition hastens to a termination, but accident has fortunately led us to finish it with a very agreeable climax. Nothing, indeed, can exceed the beauty of the banks of this romantic river. The scenery, though not stupendous, is often grand, sometimes sublime, and never uninteresting. Repeated descriptions of it have been given to the world; but the elegant pen of Mr. Gilpin, directed by taste, and enlivened by fancy, seems alone to have done justice to its inexhaustible and beautiful varieties.

Our friend and conductor Mr. Wathen met us according to promise this morning at eight o'clock, and shortly after his arrival we began our walk. It was rendered particularly agreeable by a perpetual interchange of cloud and sunshine through the whole day, which gave great effect to the features of the country, by throwing them into transient gloom, and lighting them up with occasional gleams. The first object that engaged our attention was Goodrich Castle, the ancient family-seat of the Talbots, which rises on the opposite bank of the river, at the distance of four miles from Wilton. Crossing the ferry, we ascended to its magnificent remains. They are highly picturesque, and particularly striking, richly decorated with ivy, and "bosomed high in tufted trees;" the crumbling turrets of the massive walls, and the waving heads of the surrounding wood, reflecting a reciprocal charm on each other, form a combination extremely agreeable to the imagination, and impressive to the mind. The architecture [P 225] is evidently of different ages; specimens of the Anglo-Norman style occur in the windows of the keep, and examples of the pure Gothic (which was a century later) in other parts of the ruins. Quitting the lofty situation of Goodrich castle, which commands an extensive prospect, we proceeded to Hensham ferry, leaving to the left a considerable sweep of the river, as it contains no features particularly interesting. Having again crossed the Wye, we turned immediately into a path through the meadows on its banks. Here the scene becomes truly majestic. The Coldwell rocks, rising to a towering height on the right hand, alternately start through the thick woods which mantle their sides in lofty pointed crags; and display broad masses of their surface, relieved by creeping lichens, and diversified with mineral tinges. The little cottages scattered at their feet, the neat residence of industrious labour, form a pleasing accompaniment; exhibiting simplicity contrasted with majesty. Our course led us up a steep and winding ascent (during which we caught occasional views of great beauty) to the summit of Simond's rock, a stupendous precipice, said to be 900 feet above the bed of the river. From hence the river [P 226] which we have just crossed, with all its contiguous scenery, appears spread beneath us to the north. In an opposite direction are seen the New Weir, the iron-works upon it, a sharp and capricious turn of the river, the Doward rocks, and an huge insulated crag, lifting its detached, precipitous form, crowned with moss, and sprinkled with ivy, to a height little inferior to the cliff from whence it is seen. At the New Weir it was again necessary for us to cross this winding stream, and we continued to follow its meanders, having on our right hand, for better than half a mile, a bold steep bank, covered with noble beech trees, whose deep shade is occasionally relieved by the white face of the rock discovered through it. The Doward rocks, which constitute a very grand feature of the Wye, now began to open upon us, and the effect produced upon the imagination by their towering stratified appearance, is much enlivened by the circumstance of a fine echo, the centrum phonicum of which appears to be near a spreading beech-tree in the middle of the meadow. Our path quickly lead us to the turnpike-road from Ross to Monmouth, which runs parallel with the river for some distance, and commands a glorious view of the Wye, with [P 227] its rough rocks and luxuriant woods. We hastened through the neat town of Monmouth, built on the confluence of the rivers Wye and Monnow, and passing the bridge thrown over the latter, turned again into the meadows near its margin. At the distance of little better than half a mile from Monmouth, the river makes another grand sweep to the right, and assumes a different character from that which it has hitherto observed. Dismissing its rocks and precipices, it rolls through lofty sloping hills thickly covered with waving woods from their roots to their tops. All here is solemn, still, and soothing; a deep repose reigns around, and attunes the mind to meditation. An agreeable variety, however, soon occurs, the little picturesque village of Redbrook, a bustling busy scene, enlivened by active industry in various forms. White-Brook, another hamlet, ornamented with the house of General Rooke, presently succeeds; to the left of which, on a commanding elevation, is seen the village of St. Brieval's with its church and castle, the latter serving as a prison for those convicted of trespasses in the neighbouring forest of Dean. It is difficult to give a just idea of the singular village of Llandogo, that now opens upon us. [P 228] You must imagine, my dear sir, a lofty hill, whose indented side is mantled with deep woods, through which a multitude of small cottages, sprinkled over the declivity in an artless, whimsical, and picturesque manner, shew their little whitened fronts, and strongly impress the imagination with the idea of its being fairy land, the romantic residence of Oberon, Mab, and their fantastic train. This spot is generally esteemed, and with great justice, a beautiful feature of the Wye. The river now takes a sharp turn to the left, and hurrying on half a mile further to Cardithel, experiences a considerable and singular depression of its level, sinking gradually several feet. Passing through the populous village of Brookweir, to which the Severn hoys ascend, in order to receive the lading of the Wye barges, we left, for a short time, the banks of the river, and wound up a narrow lane for another mile. We then attained the summit of a hill, and a prospect immediately burst upon us, scarcely to be equalled for richness and variety. Behind us lay the fairy region of Llandogo, the busy village of Brookweir deeply embosomed in wood, and the crystalline river, studded with vessels of different descriptions. Before us were [P 229] spread the village of Tintern, with the diversified scenery of the dale in which it stands, its glittering stream and dark woods, and the lofty ruins of its abbey, a beautiful Gothic pile rising in solemn majesty, spotted with mosses, and crowned with ivy. The whole scene was gloriously tinted by the rich illumination of a setting sun.

We slowly descended the hill, indulging the reflections which the view had inspired, and, crossing the Wye for the last time, proceeded to the Beaufort-Arms, a very comfortable inn, kept by Mr. Gething, the antiquary and historian of the village.

From Tintern Abbey to Chepstow Castle

[P 231]

Chepstow, Aug. 31st.

Dear Sir,

Whilst we are waiting for the flood-tide in order to cross the Severn, on our return to Bath, I indulge myself in troubling you with a few additional lines, as a finish to the slight account of our expedition, which, in compliance with your request, I have attempted to give you. The brevity I must necessarily observe in my concluding letter, will, I apprehend, need the less apology, as the scenery of this place and its neighbourhood has already been described by Tourists out of number, who have been so particular in their details, as to leave nothing to be gleaned by such birds of passage as C_____ and myself.

The extreme heat of the last night effectually prevented us from sleeping, and we passed the greater part of it at our window. This we were induced to do both for the sake of a balmy and refreshing breeze that gently whispered without, and in order to enjoy a scene perfectly new to us, highly gratifying to a warm imagination. [P 232] Immediately opposite to the room in which we were lodged, stands a large iron forge, one amongst the many that are constantly worked night and day, in the valley of Tintern. The wide folding-doors were thrown open, and as they faced our window, the interior part of the edifice, with its huge apparatus, and the operations carried on by it, were displayed to our view. Here the dingy beings who melt the ore, and prepare it for the bar-hammer, were seen busied in their horrible employment, all the detail of which we clearly discovered by the assistance of the strong illumination cast on them from the flaming furnaces. This scene of bustle amidst smoke and fire, during the darkness and silence of midnight, which was only interrupted by the intonations of the bar-hammer, produced a most impressive effect on the mind. We saw Virgil's description realized, and the interior of Etna, the forges of the Cyclops, and their fearful employment, immediately occurred to us.

Fulgores nunc terrificos, sonitumque, metumque
Miscebant operi, flammisque sequacibus iras.
_____ Gemit impositis incudibus antrum.
Illi inter sese multā vi brachia tollunt
In numerum, versantque tenaci forcipe massam.
En. viii. 431.
[Now the Cyclopes were mixing in their work terrifying lightening and noise and terror, and wrath with pursuing flames. The cave groaned when the anvils were struck. The Cyclopes, among themselves, in turn, raised their arms with great force and turned the mass with the gripping tongs. -- Virgil, Aeneid VIII.431-432; 451-453.]

[P 233]

Our impatience to survey the ruins of Tintern abbey induced us to rise with the sun. It was some time, however, before we were gratified, for the key of it having been very injudiciously taken from Mr. Gething, and placed in the hands of a man on the other side of the river, considerable delay and trouble arose in procuring it; an inconvenience which is not recompensed by the civility of the ciceroni, who has none of the obliging attention of our host at the Beaufort-Arms. After much vociferation, we at length gained the key, and were admitted into the abbey. The coup d'oeil, on opening the western entrance, is, unquestionably, very fine. The peculiar elegance and lightness of all its members immediately strike the eye. Nothing, indeed, can be more perfect than the architecture of its various parts; its moulded arches, clustering pillars, and figured windows. Nature, also, as if to render the ruin compleat, has taken abundant pains in decorating its columns and walls with a profuse coating of ivy, which is very happily contrasted to the light hue of the stone used in the building, that even now preserves much of its original whiteness. This beautiful ruin is cruciform, two hundred and thirty feet in length, [P 234] and thirty-three in breadth; the transept stretches north and south one hundred and sixty feet. It was originally the great church belonging to the Cistertian Abbey of Tintern, founded by Walter de Clare in 1131, and dedicated to St. Mary, as all monasteries of that order were. Falling a prey to the rapacity of Henry VIII. at the dissolution, (when its estates amounted to 192l. per annum) it was granted by him in 1537 to the Earl of Worcester. Many vestiges of other buildings belonging to the abbey may be traced, such as door-ways, shafts of pillars, &c. and they all prove that the purest style of Gothic architecture was observed in the structure of the great church and the contiguous edifices. Having gratified ourselves with a minute observation of every part of this ruin, and visited the iron-works, where the crude ore is melted, and formed into rough pigs, preparatory to its being manufactured, we bade farewell to our kind friend Wathen, (who returned to Hereford) and took the road towards Chepstow. One other grand view remained to us before we finished our expedition; I mean that which is seen from a stupendous elevation called the Wine-cliff, (a corruption, probably, of Wye-cliff) rising a little to the [P 235] north-east of Piercefield, and overlooking the surrounding country. Quitting the road, and taking a path through the meadows to the left hand, we reached this eminence by a gradual ascent, and were suddenly astonished with a scene grand and unbounded. Immediately under the cliff is seen the Wye, following a course the most whimsical and sinuous that can be conceived, and discharging its waters into the Severn at Chepstow. The vast mural limestone precipices that rise abruptly from its banks, finely diversified by a regular alternation of rock and wood, appear in front and to the left. Piercefield, with all its magic scenery, lies under the eye, to the right. Beyond it the ruined castle of Chepstow, and its busy town, are caught. And in the distance, the straining vision roves over Glocestershire, Somersetshire, and Monmouthshire, and following the course of the magnificent Severn, is at length lost in the Bristol Channel.

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