THE CLASSIC THREE CASTLES

Skenfrith ~ Grosmont ~ Whitecastle

14/06/03

This Saturday was a glorious day, the weather was warm and we were to look forward to an epic ride into north Gwent, taking in the brilliant vintage cycling scenery that has greeted people from all over for many years! We met in Usk at 17:30. From here we cycled out to Llandenny and then to Raglan. We then took a quiet lane we call the ‘cuckoo’ lane, this leads out into the beautiful countryside toward Hendre, near the Rolls of Monmouth golf club. We then carried on up a quiet and narrow wooded track to the village of Newcastle. It was not far from here to Skenfrith; here we viewed the first castle of the day. Skenfrith castle was now in danger of collapsing, we saw where the river had eroded the bank near one of the castle walls, it was getting dangerously close and it was possible that the wall might give way all together! From here we started the best part of the ride. The climb out of Skenfrith is what can only be described as magical! The late evening Sun shone low in the sky, the air was full of champagne aromas and the birds sang a soundtrack to our approach to Grosmont. The road here is quite wide but very quiet; it dips down nearly to the level of the Monnow river before climbing steeply into Grosmont. We stopped in the grounds of the small castle for a bite to eat. The light was fading so we left this picturesque village to cycle on toward Whitecastle. Our route took us high up on a ridge toward Cross Ash, it was nearly dark now, although a full moon was due that night, it had not risen yet and even when it did the light it gave was not good due to a lot of cloud cover. We arrived at Whitecastle in the dark; the joint power of our lamps burnt a hole in the blackness, which made up for the lack of light from the moon. The time was now 23:00. We decided we wanted the fastest route home so we dropped down to Llantilio Croessenny, then through the dark lanes to Llanarth, Croes Llanfair, and Goytre and along the main road to Pontypool and Croesyceiliog. It had been an excellent evening ride, arriving home at 01:00....60 miles.

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