A beautiful border town located where the Trothy, Wye and Monnow rivers meet it is still possible to see some traces of Monmouth’s historic past.
Monmouth Priory’s beautiful oriel window is known as Geoffrey’s Window as it is where Geoffrey of Monmouth, is said to have sat and written or embellished and shaped the Arthurian legend. (Let’s not let the fact that the window was built centuries after Geoffrey died get in the way of a good story!) www.monmouthpriory.net/about.
The Festival emblem is the iconic 13th century Monnow Bridge. It is the only bridge in Britain where the gate tower stands on the actual bridge and was built to keep the Normans in and the Welsh out (or was it the other way round?) www.castlewales.com/monnow.html.
Monmouth Castle, now Monmouth Regimental Museum, is the birth place of Henry V which is why there are so many references to Agincourt throughout the town including a commemorative embroidery in the Shire Hall (www.monmouthcastlemuseum.org.uk).
The Shire Hall was built in the 18th century and restored to its former glory in 2011. In 1839-40 one of the most significant trials in British history took place when John Frost and other Chartist were tried for their part in the Newport Chartist uprising. Take a look around Courtroom 1 restored to how it was in the 1840s and if you’re feeling brave a look at the cells. www.shirehallmonmouth.org.uk.
The Savoy Theatre may be the oldest theatre in Wales but it’s still a focal point for the town. www.monmouth-savoy.co.uk/history.
Admiral Nelson visited the town twice and obviously made an impression. The Nelson Museum is considered to have one of the best Nelson collections celebrating his life and loves with many personal items and memorabilia. This year for the duration of the summer they are also holding an exhibition "Stables to Studios". It is the story of Rockfield Studios, Monmouth. www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monmouth-museum.
One of Monmouth’s best kept secrets is The Nelson Garden. Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton took tea in this garden when they visited Monmouth. The Garden has been restored. www.parksandgardens.org.
Not to be forgotten are the hot air balloons, aviation and cars. Charles Rolls of Rolls Royce fame’s statue can be seen outside the Shire Hall in Agincourt Square. He was born in Hendre, just outside Monmouth and his family seat is now The Rolls Golf Club.
In 1965 Rockfield Studio was acknowledged to be the first residential recording studio in the world and so began Monmouth’s association with music. While many of the world’s biggest artists have recorded there, it is primarily knows as the main recording studio for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Also close to Monmouth is Monnow Valley Studio and Nimbus Records
In 2012 Monmouth became the first Wikipediatown. Monmouthpedia uses QRpedia that can be read by smartphones which will take you to a relevant article in the language of your choice. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/MonmouthpediA.
This year one of our Fringe events is taking place at The Round House, The Kymin. As the result of a collaboration between New Leaf Gallery and The National Trust there will be an exhibition of Lynda Jones paintings. Lynda's canvases are mostly depictions of landscapes in the Monmouth area. It is also a great place to have a picnic and take in the stunning views over Monmouth and beyond.
Monmouth is no longer a market town but you can still feel its effects in the diverse independent shops such as Atelier Gilmar, The Bloom Room, DS Music, Envee, Extons, Fabric Mills, Fingal Rock, Handyman House, IAP Fine Art, JoJo Maman Bebe, Mandarin Stone, Posies and RT Jewellers to name a few. And the numerous cafes – great for watching the world pass by. There is even a vineyard at the edge of town where you can sample wine made from locally grown vines!
The Wye Valley is believed to be the birthplace of modern tourism. Thanks to a book by William Gilpin, in the late 18th century espousing its beauty, it became very fashionable to take a boat down the Wye River.
Canoeing or Kayaking on the Wye is still extremely popular and it is possible to canoe or kayak up to 100 miles along the Wye from Glasbury to Tintern, and anywhere in between. People wishing to carry on to Chepstow require a guide as the river is tidal from Tintern. Boats can be hired for ½ day, a full day or multiple days from Monmouth Canoe
Fishing is another popular pastime with coarse fishing on the Wye, coarse and fly fishing on the Monnow and fly and worm fishing on the Trothy. For more information please go to www.monmouthfishing.co.uk/river-wye.
Follow the Wye up river to Symonds Yat, taking in a rope bridge (Biblins) and a rope ferry. This circular walk should take approx. 4 hours.
The Wye Valley Walk is from Monmouth to Chepstow or you can stop at any of the villages you pass through Tintern. At Tintern you can stop off and have a look around the Abbey or take a detour to the Devil’s Pulpit.
The Monnow Valley Walk follows the River Monnow from Monmouth to its source high in the Black Mountains.
Sections of these paths follow Offa’s Dyke. For more information please go to www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/walks-and-trails.
Monmouthshire has many beautiful cycle routes passing through some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. For more information please go to www.monmouth.org.uk/index.php/leisure/cycling.html.
Monmouthshire has one of the greatest densities of castles in Britain with an estimated 26 surviving castle sites within the present county boundaries. One of the best preserved castles is White Castle which is a couple of miles outside Monmouth. If you have the time you can do the Three Castle Walk which takes in White Castle, Skenfrith and Grosmont but you will need to allow plenty of time as it is 20 miles. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk.
For more information about things to do in Monmouth and Monmouthshire please go to www.visitmonmouthshire.com.
If you enjoy walking then the Brecon Beacons are close with both The Sugar Loaf and Skirrid mountains only ½ hour’s drive away. www.beacons-npa.gov.uk.
The Wales Coastal Path beginnings (or ends) in Chepstow and as we’ve already said the Offa’s Dyke path takes in Monmouth. www.walescoastpath.gov.uk.
There’s the opportunity to walk or take a boat along the Monmouthshire to Brecon canal.
Monmouth itself boasts 2 golf courses – The Monmouth Golf Club and The Rolls of Monmouth and close by are the well renowned St Pierre at Chepstow and the Ryder Cup course at the Usk Valley Celtic Manor. www.visitwales.com/things-to-do/activities/golf.
Going to the Races
Located in the heart of historic Piercefield Park with breathtaking views of the stunning Wye Valley, Chepstow Racecourse hosts 32 national hunt and flat racing throughout the year. www.chepstow-racecourse.co.uk.
Other places to visit
Within ½ hour’s drive there are a number of border and market towns: Abergavenny, Chepstow, Newport, Ross on Wye and Hereford.
Within 1 hour’s drive: Hay on Wye, Cardiff and Bristol.
Just across the Wye River and the Welsh border is the Forest of Dean. An area of outstanding beauty -it’s a great place to walk, cycle, go mountain biking and try out the zip-wires. www.wyedeantourism.co.uk.