Cistercian Way (Wales)

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Tintern Abbey

The Cistercian Way is a waymarked, circular, long distance footpath, which circumnavigates Wales linking the Cistercian historic sites of the country. The whole route is in total some 650 miles (1,050 km) long.


Virgin Mary, Penrhys

The route was developed in 1998 as part of the celebrations of the 900th anniversary of the foundation of the Cistercian order.[1] It started in May 1998 as part of the annual pilgrimage of the Society of St David and St Nicholas to Penrhys in the Rhondda.[2]

It is a circular walk and can be started from any point along its route. Tintern Abbey, founded by Walter de Clare in 1131, was the first Abbey to be built in Wales.[3] One section of the route follows the medieval pilgrimage route from Llantarnam Abbey, built on the site of an old Cistercian monastery and now occupied by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy, to the shrine of Our Lady of Penrhys. Not far from the shrine is Ffynnon Fair (or St. Mary's Well), a holy well overlooking the village of Llwynypia and the oldest recorded Christian site in the Rhondda. The waters from the well were believed to have the ability to cure ailments.[4]

The route also connects to many of Wales’s other long-distance paths. The Coed Morgannwg Way and Saint Illtyd's Walk have terminus points near Margam Abbey. Neath Abbey was once the largest abbey in Wales. At Tenby one can take a boat over to the current Cistercian monastery on Caldey Island. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path can be accessed at Tenby. The Monks' Trod in Mid Wales links Strata Florida Abbey in Ceredigion to Cwmhir Abbey to the east.[5]


The route takes the intrepid walker on a veritable pilgrimage around the coast and hinterland of Wales and incorporates in North Wales Conwy, Basingwerk Abbey, Valle Crucis and Strata Marcella abbeys with Mid Wales' Abbeycwmhir and Grace Dieu, then and famous Tintern Abbey before completing the circle with Neath Abbey, Whitland, Strata Florida and Cymer Abbey but also incorporates Tenby in West Wales and other features such as ancient trackways, pilgrimage routes and historic sites.


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