A visit to the Wye and Usk valleys offers dramatic landscapes and nature trails - and with Monmouthshire awarded the first 'food tourism destination' in Wales, you certainly won't go hungry.
The Black Mountains
Abergavenny Food Festival
Every September the historic market town of Abergavenny showcases the best of the Welsh culinary world. Over 200 market stalls, plus tutored tastings, masterclasses, celebrity chef demonstrations and talks are held in and around the town, whilst the ancient castle grounds play host to a children’s food academy, live music and entertainment. A real festival atmosphere and a chance to sample and buy the best of Wales to eat and drink. An unmissable weekend.
One of the finest and most complete abbey churches in Wales, the origins of Tintern Abbey date back to the 12th Century. Its grand beauty was rediscovered in the 18th century by Romantics including JMW Turner and William Wordsworth… and still captivates today.
Less than ten miles from the M4 but feeling a world away, Usk sits on one of the finest salmon fishing rivers in the country, the River Usk. Visit the 11th century castle, take a refreshing riverside walk and enjoy the charming independent shops, tearooms and pubs Usk has to offer.
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
Running for 32 miles through the idyllic scenery of the Brecon Beacons, a visit to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is a wonderful way to slow things down a little. Hire a boat from one of the number of boating holiday companies on the canal, or take to the towpath on foot or by bicycle to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings (and walk off those extra welsh cakes).
If you visit any gardens in this region, make this first on your list. Originally built around 1895, what makes Dewstow Gardens exceptional is the labyrinth of underground grottoes, tunnels and sunken ferneries. Buried under thousands of tonnes of soil just after WW2 and rediscovered in 2000, these eccentric and fantastical gardens have been restored and boast ponds, tropical glasshouses, rock gardens and an alpine garden. A must-see.
Tread and Trot Trails
A new way to discover the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside and its rich heritage is by downloading the Tread and Trot Trails app for either iPhone or Android. You can use it to explore trails, compete in time trials and spot wildlife as you go, whether on foot, on a bike or on horseback.
Wales does castles - fact. Chepstow Castle is the first real ‘castle’ in Wales in two senses – it is the earliest stone fortress in Wales, and the first you come to upon entering southern Wales. Perched high above the River Wye, a walk along the castle battlements is a thrilling way to experience the breathtaking scenery.
The Inn at Penallt, Monmouth
Winner of a whole bunch of awards including Welsh Pub of the year (AA Hospitality Awards 2012/13), The Inn at Penallt is a traditional village pub with a reputation that draws people from miles around. What better place to rest and refuel whilst exploring the beautiful Wye Valley scenery. And if you’re really tired, they offer B&B facilities too.