Llanthony – the valley in the heart of Wales

a visit to ancient llanthony

We were on the Offa’s Dyke Walk.
The handsome ruins of Llanthony Abbey Follow Me on Pinterest
The handsome ruins of Llanthony Abbey

The two miles to Llanthony took us a long time to walk, but eventually we could see the ruins of the famous abbey just below. The rain eased off, but we had become wary of its capricious moods and kept well covered up. I recalled Bruce Chatwin’s book, “On the Black Mountain” and think that he should have renamed it, “Beneath the Black Cloud”, such was our experience today.

We drew closer to the ruined abbey and saw quite a few horses in the adjoining fields. We bypassed the abbey to find the main road and followed it to the Half Moon Hotel. It appeared neglected and needed some sprucing up. Tony, the owner welcomed us and showed us the drying room for our wet gear. After a wet and tiring day Carol and I would have loved more luxurious lodgings, but we would have to stay here as there was no realistic alternative. Tony indicated that Tuesday was usually his day off, but that if we did want something to eat he would open up the bar. After cleaning up and changing into dry clothes we cheered up. Since we weren’t keen on eating here we discussed an alternative.
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Plans for the evening….

“Let’s have a great night out at the Abbey Hotel. I saw on their sign that they had a 12th century bar,” I suggested.
“Sounds good to me,” Carol quickly agreed.
We put on our goretex coats and walked along the wet road to the Abbey Hotel. As luck would have it, the hotel was closed and our dreams of a luxurious dinner dissipated. We walked back to the Half Moon Hotel, realising that our remaining option was to have a meal there.

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Tony didn’t seem put out at being second choice and was quite happy to open the bar and take our orders for two vegetarian lasagnes. He enjoyed chatting and told how in his younger days he and his friends in Llanthony on this side of the border would cross over Hatterrall Ridge to stoush with the lads from English Longtown.
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As the meals were being prepared, David and Judy, a couple holidaying on a farm nearby, called in for a drink. Over pints of ale and cider the five of us enjoyably spent some time together. Judy had a lovely speaking voice reminiscent of Miranda Richardson’s character  Queenie in the TV series “Blackadder”.
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So life went on in the quiet secluded valley of Llanthony, deep in Wales. Back on the track to Hay-on-Wye tomorrow.
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