Although being Danish, I’ve had a close relationship with Wales for the last ten years, and I love to discover new corners of this beautiful country. I used to live in Cardiff, but surprisingly I never made it to the bordertown of Chepstow before recently, when after looking for accommodation in Chepstow, my partner and I checked in to the Green Man Backpackers Chepstow in the heart of the town.
This is a luxury hostel in a historic and neatly kept building. We discovered that it not only provides accommodation in Chepstow for visitors but it is also a cultural hub for the local community, since many events and local traditions revolve around these facilities and its passionate owner. Therefore it’s an obvious choice of accommodation for many people who are visiting the town for music festivals – or for walking popular routes like Offa’s Dyke or the country-spanning Wales Coast Path.
It’s also a great base for history-lovers as it’s located within a few minutes walk from the majestic Chepstow Castle – and just a short bus ride from the iconic Tintern Abbey. I had often seen photos of the abbey on guidebook covers and in travel magazines, but nothing could prepare me for the unique atmosphere surrounding the ruins on a misty autumn-afternoon.
The day was grey and light rain was falling as we stepped off the bus and bought our tickets for the historic attraction. A rainy day out of the high season means fewer visitors and more peace, which then again enhanced the melancholic feeling of this magical place. Among these movie-set-looking ruins we could see right “through” the building at times, to spot a backdrop of natural scenery turning golden between the ancient stones.
You can easily spend a few hours around the ruins and the village of Tintern, which makes it an excellent daytrip from Chepstow itself – and next time we’ll definitely be bringing our walking boots here. Chepstow has its own charm too, and we were positively surprised to find a whole bunch of cosy cafés and pubs along the High Street and all the way down to the River Wye.
Walking down to the river we passed Chepstow Castle which is naturally a highlight of the town, but so is the arched Old Wye Bridge connecting Wales with England. A beautiful cast iron structure from 1816, that allows you to walk back and forth between the counties of Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire within a few minutes. Next morning we arrived at the bridge at very low tide, that had left the river bottom as a mass of mud, making the surroundings look interestingly exotic. The pillars of this bridge see some of the highest tidal changes in the world, and therefore it might be worth visiting a couple of times if you stay around Chepstow for a few days.
This time around we were just travelling through, but we will definitely be looking to return one day. Chepstow and the Greenman Backpackers really caught our attention, and located conveniently between cities like Bristol, Gloucester and Cardiff – it would be an excellent base for exploring a wider area while combining citybreaks and hiking routes.
The Greenman Backpackers accommodation in Chepstow can be found on our map of South Wales and Pembrokeshire.