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Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey in South Wales is situated in the beautiful Wye Valley–the Wye being a river that runs along the border of England and Wales. The hills rise above the river valley on the England side, and crowning the line of hills is the ancient earthwork defenses called Offa’s Dyke.

When my oldest son was ten we took a three day walk along the River Wye. With a dog, a stick and a backpack, we stayed in village inns and hiked up along the river from Chepstow, with it’s castle ruins to Tintern. Then up a bit further and across the bridge to ascend to the hills on the English side.

Chepstow Castle at the mouth of the River Wye

Chepstow Castle at the mouth of the River Wye

There a long distance footpath runs along Offa’s Dyke and a viewpoint of a bluff overlooks the valley with Tintern Abbey far below. It is a romantic and beautiful scene and it inspired one of William Wordsworth’s most famous poems.

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

Go here to read the whole poem: Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey.