In the heart of the Wye Valley is Devil’s Pulpit, a rocky outcrop amongst the trees that affords spectacular views up the valley and river but also taking centre stage in the view is the ruins of Tintern Abbey. It is not a huge walk to get up there and thus attainable for many, plus I can assure you the effort is worth every step.
The walk and the views incorporates 2 countries too. The River Wye here is the boundary between Monmouthshire, Wales and Gloucestershire, England. West to East respectively. Starting the walk at Tintern Abbey on the welsh side and stood upon Devil’s Pulpit you are standing in England, with a fine view of all.
The walk up starts best at Tintern Abbey, a ruin in such a beautiful setting. Beside the River Wye, surrounded by beautiful green and high valley sides, covered in green woodland. The Abbey was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales and the second in Britain. Founded in 1131 but of course went to ruin after 1536 when it succumbed to the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
From Tintern Abbey make your way a few hundred metres up the valley to Abbey Mill, behind which you will find the footbridge over the river and to the English side. Upon crossing the bridge walk another couple of hundred metres and you will come to a path off to the left, signposted Devil’s Pulpit.
From this point it gets steeper and more uphill, great for getting the heart and lungs going but not too arduous. Please remember it is only a mile or so from this point with a view that will give you a memory. Keep following the signs for Devil’s Pulpit as there are tracks off left and right. All the way up you are amongst the green of the trees, even when it levels out on top. Along the top path heading South on the well trodden path that is the Offa’s Dyke Path. Keep looking right and you see a gap in the trees and a sign on the ground marked Devil’s Pulpit.
Above you can see John and I stood on Devil’s Pulpit looking back the other way. We took the walk as we were in the area working with LL Bean, the american outdoor clothing and equipment company. In my photos on social media people are asking about the jackets and boots I am wearing and here we are proudly sporting our Bean Boots and tops I have already reviewed on these pages. As an outdoor person I need the right kit for purpose and am finding their kit to be perfect!
A tiny bit of bouldering is required to stand on Devil’s Pulpit physically or you can enjoy the view from the path as the forestry commission keeps the view clear at this point.
This little pillar of limestone provides the perfect view up the valley and over Tintern Abbey where you started the walk. Its name derives from ancient stories of it being where the devil used to sit and preach to the monks working below trying to convert them. You get a sense of scale of the spot in the trees in this pic we took from further out.
The spot has inspired not just modern walkers but creatives of all kinds throughout the Centuries. William Wordsworth came to this rock and wrote the simply titled poem ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’ in 1798, an excerpt being:
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And today, families, friends and lone walkers alike, make the walk up through the woods to be inspired as he was.
You can walk back down the way you came or go a little further along the top path which goes downhill before turning right to head back along a lower path. A tip top walk, a great day had and new things learnt. Time for a bite and a pint.