A quaint tea room in the shadow of Tintern Abbey, The White Monk is the perfect place to stop for coffee, tea and cake whether you’re going up the Wye Valley, or returning down it.
As a primarily garden-based coffee stop, The White Monk is best enjoyed on more clement days. Sat outside with your legs crossed one over the other, enjoying the vibrant plants at a light-weight aluminium table – you know the ones – the attentive owner/manager or one of her friendly minions scurries over to take your order. Table service in the sun, just what every cycling stop needs.
This is, as you might imagine, a stop better suited to the tea-buffs, serving pots of leaf that are sure to please. Though the coffee is perfectly serviceable, it doesn’t quite reach the echelons of entirely divine, so often these days achieved by many of the modern independents in city and town alike. Served hot, dark and relatively strong your coffee will see you happily home, but lacking more interesting notes, it won’t be the best cup you’ve ever sampled.
Despite the slight let down on the coffee front, there are good reasons why The White Monk is one of my favourite stops… full stop. Its garden is simply a joy to recline in – bike propped securely within its confines – and the cake is everything you’d hope for in such a setting, while the service is faultless.
The Route – 80 Miles, 2,000m Climbing
Leaving Bristol from the water tower on the Downs, the route itself is one of my favourites; tricky in parts, but enjoyable throughout. Heading north out of Bristol, you take the back streets through Hallen and Easter Compton, before making your way towards the estuary crossing. Though you’ll join the A403 for a short time, the ride quickly improves as you turn almost immediately off at the Old Passage, before making a beeline for the old Severn Bridge.
Once in Wales, follow the cycle path until you reach the large roundabout just outside Chepstow. Follow it around until you see signage for the Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey, turn off left and follow the road past Chepstow Racecourse and down into the Valley itself. You’ll soon reach Tintern, but it’s not time for coffee or cake yet. Continue up the valley until you reach Redbrook.
It’s after Redbrook that the ride really begins, as you do a short, but sharp loop with a fun, fast descent back down into Monmouth. Your legs now pumping with blood and raring to go, it’s time to switch your mind to cake and power back down the valley to Tintern and The White Monk. Once watered and fed, it’s back across the bridge, following the same route back to the Downs and home for a well-deserved rest.