The time I walked from Wales to England.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

When I found out that a bridge linking Wales to England less than an hour's journey from my flat in Bristol, I knew it had to be accomplished before my time there came to an end. How's that for a cheeky ice breaker? "I once walked from Wales to England" (which will be particularly handy for people who are terrible at geography).

So that walk from Wales to England might have kicked off with a train from England to Wales, but the technicality stands. Situated across the River Wye are the small towns of Chepstow, Wales and Tutshill, England. 

I wound up killing three birds with one stone on this trip; visiting a near-ancient castle, walking from one country to another, and doing what will go down as probably the creepiest Harry Potter fan-move of my life. 

Tutshill is a small, quiet village on the edge of the Forest of Dean - which alone rings multiple bells in any Harry Potter fan's head. Being mid-week in early January I was just about the only person out for a walk but I was feeling determined. There wasn't much I could find about the actual history of Tutshill aside from its role based on its proximity to Chepstow Castle and a major river, so the overwhelming fact about this tiny place is that it's where JK Rowling grew up as a child. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

So while I always wanted to make another visit to Wales and a castles are great, strolling by this Church the small stone house that JK Rowling grew up in next door was the cherry on top of my day. I was able to reign in my crazy a bit and didn't spend more than a minute or so pacing back & forth in front of the house plucking up the courage to snap a photo while trying not to freak out anyone living on the inside. I walked around the church yard next door and took it all in. 

Forgive me if it sound a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but THIS is literally the place that shaped Jo, therefore her writing, and there were bits of magic inspiration everywhere. Every fan knows the significance of the Forest of Dean and really keen beans will remember the Quidditch team named the Tutshill Tornadoes. Aside from it being the former stomping grounds of JK Rowling (still wrapping my head around that) it is actually just a really stunning quintessentially English home.

Okay, crazy over.

I walked back down into Wales and did some exploring around Chepstow. There is archaeological evidence of humans living here starting at 5000 B.C. and it played a major role during the Norman Conquest as its location on the River Wye provided a perfect base. The castle was built around 1067 and it was originally named Striguil, which stuck until the 14th century when it became Chepstow.

Chepstow Castle did remind me quite a bit of Caerphilly Castle that I visited previously. It's wild to think that people used to actually live here and how much history these walls have seen. 

The oldest castle doors in England certainly looked the part. One good gust of wind and that thing is going down.

Chepstow and Tutshill made for a lovely day out, even in chilly January. Surprisingly easy to reach and definitely worth a visit for anyone looking for something unique and historical. Or in my case, incredibly nerdy.

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