Tintern Abbey walks: I personally cannot think of a better way to experience the Gothic masterpiece that is Tintern Abbey than with a hike through the surrounding Wye Valley. While the Cistercian abbey has slowly succumbed to a state of ruin since its demise in the 12th century, the valley around it has been doing the absolute opposite.
The limestone slopes have sprouted with evergreen fern, woodrush, and trees like ash, beech, lime, and oak. Rare wildlife such as peregrine falcon, red kite, and heron have claimed the valley – and therefore Tintern walks – as their home.
Wordsworth and Byron, two Romantic poets well-known for eloping to strange and new destinations, both wrote rather favourably of the Tintern Abbey walking trails. In fact, Wordsworth went so far as to say, “No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant”.
Tintern village is only small. The abbey is the main attraction, along with a couple of humble pubs and tea rooms. Therefore, walks near Tintern Abbey can turn a quick trip into a full day out.
Better yet, Tintern Abbey walking trails don’t just take in the impressive scenery. They also traverse old railway lines, ruined wireworks, and a boulder lookout with a devilish legend attached to it.
Tintern Abbey walks are suitable for all levels of hiking ability, just as long as you choose wisely. The following Tintern walking trails range from between two and a half miles to five miles.
To keep things straightforward (and prevent you from getting lost), I’ve covered the exact route for four of my favourite walks around Tintern – so all that’s left is to pack up and get going, or check out other spectacular Welsh walks like those near the best beaches in Gower.
Tintern Abbey Walks: The History of Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey could have easily been plucked out of a scene from Harry Potter or an Enid Blyton novel.
The Cistercian abbey has thick stone walls connected by Gothic arches. Then, through the elaborate arched windows, there are views of the forest-clad slopes of the Wye Valley.
The abbey’s origins lie in 1131 with a community of Cistercian monks. They originally erected a set of humble timber buildings as their place of worship. However, they continued to tinker over the next few years, building a church and cloisters from stone. In 1269, they erected the abbey that we see today.
Back then, the monks’ abbey was a grand piece of Gothic architecture. Now, it’s a roofless, crumbling incarnation of the original masterpiece. That’s because it fell to ruins within a year of being built after Henry VIII’s reformation foiled the monks’ big plans.
Tintern Abbey is in a tiny village on the banks of the Wye Valley in Wales. It’s not exactly a place that most people pass by on their daily business, even back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Therefore, it only really gained any recognition for its beauty when Romantic poets descended upon the Wye Valley searching for inspiration for their poetry.
The notorious Lord Byron (a man who I wrote my entire dissertation on, by the way, because he’s just that interesting) dedicated a whole poem to the abbey.
His friend and fellow poet William Wordsworth also visited a ledge above the Wye Valley called the Devil’s Pulpit, which features in the following Tintern Abbey walks.
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Tintern Abbey Walks: Where is Tintern Abbey?
Tintern Abbey walks are exceptionally scenic. The proof is in the pudding; the Wye Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is a fancy title only given to the most impressive landscapes geologically, historically, and scenery-wise.
Tintern Abbey is located in the village of Tintern, which has a population of only 853 and could be considered as an offbeat travel destination. Aside from a couple of pubs, tea rooms, guesthouses, and a visitor’s centre with shops, a tea room, and a tavern at Abbey Mill in the centre of the village, there’s not much else.
The River Wye runs through Tintern on its journey through the Wye Valley. The river forms the border between Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire, making the walks around Tintern easy to get to for anyone residing in England or Wales.
How to Get to Tintern Abbey Walks
The easiest way to visit the walks near Tintern Abbey is by driving. Otherwise, there is a local bus stop in the village, which has connections to Monmouth and Chepstow, where there are train stations. The nearest airports to Monmouth and Chepstow are Bristol Airport or Cardiff Airport.
What to bring on Tintern Abbey Walks
Any packing list for the following Tintern Abbey walks doesn’t have to be exceptionally long. However, there are a few essentials that you might want to bring along.
Whether you pack additional food will depend upon whether you are planning on timing your walks around visiting the pubs in Tintern village.
Sturdy hiking shoes or grippy trainers are a must as there are steep slopes and gravel. Sections of the Tintern walking trails are prone to mud too.
- A full water bottle (or two). A filtered water bottle might come in handy, as some of the walks around Tintern Abbey pass by streams and rivers.
- A packed lunch or snacks.
- A lightweight raincoat.
- Sun glasses, sun cream or a sun hat.
- Toilet paper – in case you need to use the toilet alfresco style.
Where to Park for Tintern Abbey Walks
There are several car parks in Tintern. The best place to park for Tintern Abbey and its walking trails is either the Anchor Inn car park or the Tintern Abbey car park.
The Anchor Inn car park is the first car park you come across after turning into the road opposite the abbey. It costs £3 per day, and you can get the full price of the ticket back if you buy a drink or a meal in the Anchor Inn pub
The Tintern Abbey car park is further down the same road next to the entrance to the abbey. This car park also costs £3. Again, the ticket price is redeemable if you buy a ticket to the abbey (a ticket to the abbey costs £8.50 for an adult).
Clearly, the best option will depend on whether you’re more likely to pay entrance to the abbey or to visit the pub opposite the abbey. There’s no difference in the location because both car parks are a few steps from each other.
Both car parks are cash only. They have limited disabled parking spaces. There are public toilets shared between the two car parks.
If those two car parks are full, there’s an additional car park located at Wireworks Tintern on Forge Road. This is a small, free car park. However, it’s a 10-minute walk from Tintern Abbey. It doesn’t have any facilities. If this doesn’t matter to you and you don’t want the hassle of redeeming your ticket, this may be a good option too.
Where to stay in Tintern
If you’re planning on staying overnight in Tintern, which is a good idea if you want to tackle multiple different walks in the Wye Valley, I’d recommend booking your accommodation with Booking.com. I’ve rounded up the best-rated accommodation in Tintern Village the nearby village of Tintern Parva and ranked them according to guest reviews:
- The Wild Hare Tintern: Smart and cosy rooms in one of Tintern Village’s most popular pubs – dog-friendly rooms are available.
- Wye View: A private two-bedroom apartment in Tintern Village with a barbecue.
- Parva Farmhouse: Rooms in a 17th-century former farmhouse in Tintern Parva.
Four Tintern Abbey Walks You Must Try
There are a handful of Tintern Abbey walks. Which one you choose really comes down to a) how long you want your walk to be, b) how difficult you want it to be, and c) whether you’re interested in views of the abbey, history, woodlands or old railway lines.
The Wye Valley Way and the Offa’s Dyke Path are two long-distance trails that converge in Tintern. The trails travel along the river Wye towards Monmouth and/or Chepstow, visiting scenic lookout spots such as Wintour’s Leap and The Wyndcliff if you travel far enough. However, the trails are long-distance and they don’t have easy circular routes.
The walks I have covered below are circular routes ranging from two and a half miles to five miles.
Many of the Tintern walks offer views of Tintern Abbey in some shape or form, but the best view is from the Devil’s Pulpit, a ledge high above the Wye Valley.
In contrast, the Angidy Valley walk takes in the Wye Valley’s industrial history. For an easy stroll, there’s a humble riverside trail along Tintern Old Station and St Michael’s Church (the Brockweir Circular).
The Wye Valley Greenway takes in an old railway line, including an eerie tunnel.
Please note that the Wireworks Bridge is closed between August 2022 and spring 2023. As of May 2023, it is still closed. This adds an additional 2.3 miles to your journey. Follow the route specified on the Wye Valley Greenway website. It passes by the Old Station Tintern, a Victorian station with a tea room in case you fancy a cuppa along the way.
1. Devil’s Pulpit and Offa’s Dyke
Best for: An uphill woodland walk with views over Tintern Abbey
Length: 5 miles (approximately 2.5 hours)
The Devil’s Pulpit is the best Tintern Abbey walk if you fancy distant views of the Tintern Abbey ruins and the Wye Valley. What’s with the name? According to legend, the Devil preached to the abbey’s monks from the limestone ledge, taunting them to leave their place of worship.
The Devil may not reside here in reality. However there are certainly fiery views over the River Wye, the abbey, the village, and the surrounding slopes.
At the lookout, there’s a limestone boulder which you can climb – if you put a little elbow grease into it, that is. It requires some bouldering skills.
It’s a great spot to pose for a photo. The woodland walk is just as photogenic too, what with its moss-covered trees and upturned roots.
As part of the route is along the Offa’s Dyke Path, it’s possible to extend the hike by staying on the Offa’s Dyke Path if you want a longer ramble.
- From the car park outside of Tintern Abbey, locate the Anchor Inn pub opposite the abbey.
- Join the footpath between the pub and the River Wye.
- Follow the footpath along the riverbank until it veers left into Tintern village.
- At the main road (the A466), turn right.
- Walk along the main road until you reach Abbey Mill, a historic centre with a coffee shop, shops, and outdoor seating.
- Walk around Abbey Mill, turning right towards the Wireworks Bridge over the River Wye.
- Cross the Wireworks Bridge over the River Wye.
- Follow the path around to the right until you reach the first trail veering uphill to the left. It is marked by metal poles.
- Follow the trail uphill. At the next junction, take the trail on the right-hand side.
- At the next junction, veer left.
- Shortly after this turning, there will be another junction. This time, follow the left-hand trail uphill.
- At the T-junction, continue following the path to the right, ignoring the next turnings on the left and on the right.
- At the next junction, take the path on the left-hand side and follow it uphill.
- At the next T-junction, turn right.
- The Devil’s Pulpit Viewpoint is straight ahead.
- After visiting the Devil’s Pulpit, continue along the same trail.
- Follow the trail through the woods, ignoring any turnings to the right or the left. You want to follow the path in a loop around Caswell Wood. There will be two right-hand turnings along the footpath after the Devil’s Pulpit viewpoint. These paths join up with the bottom path, which is your route back to Tintern Abbey. However, to stay on the full circular route, ignore the first two right-hand paths and take the right at the first T-junction you come to following these.
- Follow this path in a circular route around Caswell Wood. You will come across one crossroads, where you need to continue straight.
- Follow the path all the way back to Wireworks Bridge and retrace the same route back to Tintern Abbey.
2. The Wye Valley Greenway
Best for: A level path along an old railway line, passing through an eerie 1079-metre tunnel.
Length: 5 miles (approximately 2.5 hours)
The first thing you need to know about the Wye Valley Greenway route from Tintern Abbey is that it is not a circular route. The return journey traces the same path. That is unless you’d like to extend the walking trail by veering left after your return route out of the Tidenham Tunnel, where there’s a path to the right which joins up with part of the above Devil’s Pulpit circular.
The Wye Valley Greenway route is excellent, in my opinion, for catching up with a friend and wildlife-watching or birdwatching (I had what I’m sure is a peregrine falcon swoop right ahead of me on the path).
The path follows an old railway line, the Wye Valley Railway Line. It first opened in 1876, but the line closed in the mid 1900s. The halfway point is the eeriest spot along the trail: Tidenham Tunnel, a 1079-metre-long tunnel which is dimly-lit and home to a large bat population.
The Wye Valley Greenway is suitable for both hikers and cyclists, but cyclists will need their own wheels as there aren’t any bike hire facilities in Tintern village. There are occasional views of Tintern Abbey over the trees, as well as views of the Wye Valley and old railway building ruins.
- From the car park outside of Tintern Abbey, take the footpath between the Anchor Inn pub and the River Wye.
- Follow the footpath to the main road in Tintern (the A466).
- Turn right on the main road and continue until you reach Abbey Mill and the Wireworks Bridge over the River Wye.
- Cross over the Wireworks Bridge, just right of Abbey Mill.
- After crossing the river, follow the footpath around to the right.
- Ignore any turns on the left and continue straight.
- Follow the trail directly to Tidenham Tunnel, passing through the tunnel.
- Retrace your steps back through the tunnel and back to Tintern Abbey.
3. Brockweir Circular
Best for: A pleasant walk along an old railway line with an old Victorian station enroute.
Length: 2.5 miles (approximately 1.5 hours)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Brockweir Circular traces the old railway line between Tintern and the village of Brockweir. It passes by the historic Old Station in Tintern, a Victorian station with a tearoom and visitors centre, as well as the stunning Wye Valley countryside.
Brockweir village, funnily enough, was named after a prince of Gwent named Brockmael. It was once a little riverside port town with a quayside and managed shipbuilding and repair for many of the ships that were tasked with shifting cargo up and down the valley.
Interestingly, the village actually gained itself a reputation for debauchery like gambling and drinking, and there were 16 pubs there at the time. The church, built in the 1820s, was very invested in saving the village’s sinners from their potential doom. So, there’s plenty to see along the walk.
- Begin the hike from the Tintern Abbey car park by making your way to the path that runs between the Anchor Inn pub and the River Wye.
- Follow the path until you emerge at the main road running through Tintern (the A466).
- Turn right and follow the main road past the Abbey Mill centre.
- When you reach the Wye Valley Hotel, still on the A466, take the turning to the right signposted St Michael’s Church.
- Past the church, join the riverside path on the right-hand side.
- Follow the footpath over several bridges, ignoring any left-hand trails to Old Station.
- As you approach Brockweir Bridge, take the left-hand turning onto the gated trail.
- Climb the steps to the road.
- Turn right, crossing over the bridge, and follow the main road through the village of Brockweir.
- Take the first road to the right, passing by the village malt house. Then, turn right down a narrow footpath. The footpath squeezes between houses and gardens, and emerges at Moravian Church.
- Climb over the stile into the fields and walk along the riverbank.
- Then, take the path to the left, which heads in the opposite direction of the river.
- Climb over the stile onto the bridleway.
- Turn right and follow the footpath uphill into the woodlands.
- At the next junction, continue straight and follow the path downhill.
- At the old tramway, turn right and then walk left towards Wireworks Bridge.
- Cross Wireworks Bridge and retrace the original route back to Tintern Abbey.
4. Angidy Valley Trail
Best for: A scenic heritage walk stopping at old wireworks, streams and ponds.
Length: 3.8 miles (2 hours and 15 minutes)
The Angidy Valley Trail takes in everything from wirework ruins to peaceful ponds, streams, and beech woods. Back in the days, the Angidy Valley was very involved in producing wire of all things.
In fact, the Angidy wire was extremely high-quality and used for fishing hooks, bird cages, gun wiring, and even Elizabethan garments such as stomachers and farthingales. If the stories are correct, the Angidy wire was also used in the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
In 1895, the metalworks shut because business was no longer booming. However, the remains are still around the trail for you to take in, including the remains of the Abbey Tintern Furnace.
- Begin the walk at Tintern Abbey car park by following the footpath between the Anchor Inn pub and the River Wye along the riverbank.
- After passing through the village, exit onto the main road in Tintern (the A466).
- Cross the main road and follow Forge Road uphill, ignoring the trail to Chapel Hill Road on the left-hand side.
- Just as the road reaches a bend, turn left onto the sloping driveway signposted for Penterry Church.
- Passing the cottage, follow the footpath uphill alongside the stream.
- You will pass underneath a bridge made from planks. After the bridge, turn right, and then turn right again at the next driveway. Take the immediate turning to the left, which heads onto the left-hand side of the wall which separates the two driveways.
- At the end of the wall, rejoin the original driveway.
- Continue to the road through the forest, turning right onto the downhill slope through beech trees.
- Cross over the next junction and continue walking until you reach the dam. There should be a bench by the dam.
- Take the left-hand turning and follow the pond to the footbridge.
- Follow the path to the road, turning left and then immediately right into the Abbey Tintern Furnace ruins car park.
- On the other side of the ruins, take the footpath along the stream and ascend to the road.
- At the signpost for Raglan, turn right, crossing the stream.
- At the next junction, take the left-hand turning signposted for The Fedw. You should pass a farmhouse and cross over a stream, before turning left at the Cross Farm entrance.
- Follow the road back to the pond.
- At the next junction, take the right-hand turning signposted Tintern.
- Follow the road back to Abbey Tintern Furnace and cross over the stream.
- After the farm, take the footpath on the right and cross over the footbridge over the pond.
- Turn left twice, taking the riverside path which eventually merges with another trail.
- Continue walking along the right-hand side of the stream until you reach a narrow lane. Turn left before the junction, following the footpath behind the house.
- Follow the stream back to the road.
- Turn left onto the road.
- At the next junction, turn right and continue following the road until you reach Tintern Village.
- Retrace the route back to Tintern Abbey.
Things to do after completing one of the Tintern Abbey walks
1. Visit Tintern Abbey
The obvious activity after completing one of the above Tintern walking trails is to visit Tintern Abbey. The gothic abbey is glorious to look at from the road or lookouts like the Devil’s Pulpit.
However, it’s even more impressive when you’re standing directly underneath the 500-year-old Gothic arches.
A section of the abbey is open to the public, although you must keep to the designated paths because pieces of the abbey are continuously crumbling off despite restorations.
Tickets to enter Tintern Abbey cost £8.30 for an adult and £27.40 for a family (as of September 2022). Disabled visitors go free, and younger and senior visitors also get discounted tickets.
2. Have a pub meal
Rather conveniently, there’s a traditional pub right next to Tintern Abbey called the Anchor Inn pub. It has a large garden terrace.
The pub’s Sunday roast came as a welcome treat following my first Tintern Abbey hike, but they also have a staple menu containing typical British pub grub like fish and chips, Wye Valley rump steak, and breaded scampi.
There are a couple of other pubs in Tintern village. They are called The Wild Hire and The Rose & Crown, but I haven’t visited them and I can’t vouch for the food.
3. Visit Abbey Mill
Abbey Mill is another excellent spot to unwind after you’ve completed your chosen Tintern Abbey hike. The original mill was established in 1131.
The old mill buildings now house craft shops, a coffee shop, and a restaurant serving alcoholic or soft drinks. The watermill also runs at certain times of the day.
Abbey Mill is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and only opens in the daytime until 4.30pm on other weekdays and until 5pm on weekends.
4. Visit a coffee shop
There are several other coffee shops around Tintern, where you can grab a coffee or an ice cream. They’re known for being dog-friendly. After all Tintern is a dog-friendly town and there are free poop bag stations deposited around the village. The coffee shops in Tintern include the Filling Station Cafe, the Abbey Mill Coffee House and an ice cream shop.
If you’re looking for other excellent walks in Wales, the best beaches in Gower are one of my favourite hiking destinations, and include shipwrecks, limestone cliffs, and tidal causeways.
AUTHOR: KATIE TREHARNE
I’m Katie, the owner of Escape Artist Katie and a full-time digital nomad. I have been travel writing in some shape or form since 2018, including writing for luxury travel magazines. I hope you found my article useful – find out more about me here or keep up with my travels on Instagram. I’m a big advocate for offbeat travel and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.