Location: Llangollen LL20 8DD
History: Valle Crucis was truly Welsh from the moment it was founded in 1201 by Prince Madog ap Gruffydd and the ‘white monks’ of the Cistercian order.
Its Latin name (Valley of the Cross) refers to the nearby ninth-century Pillar of Eliseg, erected for the glory of a Welsh chieftain. Monks had names like Tudur and Hywel.
Such home-grown sympathies might well explain the damage suffered during the wars of the English king Edward I and the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. But it remains one of our best-preserved and most atmospheric medieval abbeys.
Valle Crucis began in austerity but was later celebrated by poets for its lavish hospitality – meals served in silver vessels and ale ‘flowing like a river’. In Wales, only Tintern Abbey was richer when it was dissolved by royal decree in 1537.
Review: So I went here with my dad back in September 2019 when we were on a family holiday in Wales (which actually wasn’t that long ago).
Grandma and Grandad were still recovering from getting the train up to Snowdon the other day.
We didn’t really know what to expect when we decided to go to this place. All we knew is that we wanted to get out of the house and go exploring.
My mum, sister, and grandparents didn’t want to come with us.
And mum and my sister just weren’t into going on an adventure that day.
So anyway, me and dad set off.
Since I’m a member of the National Trust and English Heritage, I’d seen Valle Crucis Abbey in one of the books I get given. So I said to my dad, that I knew the perfect place.
I mean I said I knew but actually I had no idea if it would be any good or not. And dad had no clue either.
But we set off anyway.
We had a nice little detour to the *something* Waterfalls – which we spent two minutes at because we decided it wasn’t that impressive. I can’t actually remember the name, and neither can my dad.
And then we turned up at Valle Crucis Abbey. We nearly missed it, I don’t know how we nearly missed it, but we found it finally. We were just too busy looking at all the great scenery around us (admittedly we were really really lucky with the weather that day, so everything looked amazing).
We weren’t really too sure where to park though because there was a farm shop, but then there was also a campsite/caravan site, but I don’t think it really mattered at the end of the day.
It’s a shame that this Abbey was ruined by the caravan site though – whoever gave permission for that clearly doesn’t care about preserving a historical place.
However, we were actually pleasantly surprised when we walked through the entrance door.
Oh and the ticket prices weren’t too bad, we also brought a guide book as well (which I suggest you get as well, and you actually read it as you walk around, otherwise you’ll miss out on a whole host of things).
The first thing you see is the huge entrance to the Abbey (just check out the feature photo). You could easily imagine just how impressive this place would have been.
We then proceeded to walk along the side of the Abbey and found ourselves by a monastic fishpond. This is the only surviving one in Wales.
You can really tell from the photos just how big this place would have been.
This is a beautiful piece of history. The main facade of the building is truly impressive, and the remaining ruins give a feel for its monastic past.
There is a little exhibit in a nearby building, however, we decided not to look at it.
Besides, the exhibition looked fairly small though. Despite this though, the Abbey offers many photographic opportunities and a collection of ornate tombstones with connections to Owain Glyndwyr.
There is a lot to be seen here. I mean all the details that have been put into the stonework is incredible. You can just tell that a fortune was spent on this place back in its glory days.
There’s even a second floor where you can go and see where the monks slept – plus a whole lot more!
You can also see how things changed over time – like there’s one bit where people actually moved into the Abbey and made it into their own home. So that was interesting to learn about.
Even though the window is blocked, you can see where the second floor is.
There is a little doorway in the middle that has stairs going up. That was a nice surprise actually, I didn’t think that we would be able to do that.
I just assumed that it was a shell of a building left over.
I think if this was a rainy day then it might not have been as enjoyable as me and dad found it.
But I do think that all the history that surrounds this place is incredible.
I can’t believe how much I learned that day.
Honestly, it was a great trip out! So I strongly recommend you go if you get the chance!
If you do decide to go and visit this place, then make sure you drive back along the Horseshoe Pass.
I really can’t recommend this drive enough. It’s absolutely incredible.
AND….. there’s a handy place for you to park your car so you can look across the view. Which is STUNNING.
We parked the car up and proceeded to take some photos. But then we decided that actually, we wanted to get better photos.
So basically, we decided to walk up the hill that was just to the side of where we had parked the car. We didn’t think it was that far. We could just see a rock that looked to be about a ten minutes walk away.
Boy were we wrong! We still made it to the top though!
If anything you should just go do this trip for the views though and you’ll get some pretty good walks out of it as well.
I can’t wait to come back exploring here.
I don’t know about you guys but going on a family holiday to Wales is a lot more fun than going to some random resort in a foreign country, where you are just constantly surrounded by strangers.
But that’s just me though, I love the country and I love the quiet.
I just hope that you guys will love it as much as I do!
Sending you much love! xoxo