By Bicycle up the Wye Valley.
June 1st, Wednesday
Carrying all our worldly goods, we (Wynne and her son, Herbert), took train as far as Lydney, we then rode to Chepstow, a distance of 9 miles, stopping by the way to have tea in a field. The spirit of adventure was upon us. Arrived at L we searched for rooms, coming to earth at a very dirty commercial hotel, our rooms were full I’m sure of fleas. We took our supper out and went and inspected the castle. The town itself is picturesque, narrow winding streets and quaint old houses, the church has an ancient tower but the churchyard is horribly neglected and all the village children use it as their playground, playing hopscotch and marbles among the tombstones. I did not enjoy my night, there was no lock on the door and I’m sure there were fleas.
After paying our bill of 18/6 at this dirty dog hole we proceeded on our way to Tintern. The road was lovely and on the way we came upon Moss Cottage, the oddest little thatched stone house, one end being actually lined with moss! We wanted to climb the Windcliff, and passing through the cottage got a most perfect view from there. We lunched up there and then proceeded on our way along the loveliest leafy road to Tintern. I’m afraid I was rather disappointed in it, it is very wisely being repaired by the Govt and in consequence every bit of ivy has been removed and it is a mass of scaffolding, the centre being almost filled with a host of motor charabancs. Its ancient peace is suffering from a stomach ache! We had great difficulty in finding rooms but at length were successful in a tiny cottage with the nicest old woman.
All along the valley of the Wye we rode today, stopping at 1 to lunch by the river. There we watched the salmon leaping out of the river whilst we dangled our feet in the water. On arriving at Monmouth our hunt for rooms resulted in the Vine Tree Inn, a tiny ancient pub kept by an old soldier who, when asked what he would charge for bed and breakfast, said he thought 4/- a head would be fair! It was the quaintest and most ancient house I’ve ever seen but beautifully clean and very comfortable.
From Monmouth we rode to Raglan intending to stay the night but it was quite close and nothing to see so we pushed on to Usk. (Raglan) Castle is wonderful, the huge keep surrounded by a filled moat. The last time it had any history was when the 2nd Marquis of Worcester aged 80 defended it against Fairfax and when he had at length to give in Cromwell had the place dismantled. Found rooms at the Cross Keys.
We went to the Castle, a much ruined affair, a sad wreck in charge of the jackdaws only. We took lunch and tea away to the river and spent a lovely time there, very remote. Our Inn is a very old house and I have a large low room with a carved ceiling.
June 6th, Monday
Today we rode to Abergavenny, and being mad on castles we went by way of Clytha Castle only to find it inhabited and therefore unseeable. Arriving at Abergavenny we put up at the Greyhound, a large commercial affair where I had someone else’s pillowslip and not over clean altogether. A very crowded little town where nothing in particular was to be seen, the Castle being locked up owing to a recent accommodation of troops and though there is a church we couldn’t find it.
And below, a full page from the diary – as you can see, it was stuffed with cards, photos and even the odd bill…