Monmouthshire is a county of South East Wales, pretty close to the England-Wales border. My husband and I recently went on holiday for a week here and stayed in a lovely little cottage just outside a town called Usk. It's a rural area, which means plenty of opportunities for walks in the countryside and a chance to get away from the chains and brands you often find in cities. The towns in Monmouthshire have their own 'personalities' and there's lots of history associated with the area. Here are some of the places we visited, plus some other suggestions. It's worth mentioning that I was using a wheelchair for most of the week, meaning that the places we visited would be suitable for disabled travellers or parents with kids in buggies or prams.

Number forty-nine

On our first day in Usk, it rained a lot, which is pretty normal for Welsh weather! But we wanted to go out and explore, and found Number forty-nine. It's a cafe and showroom located at number forty-nine on the main road through Usk and has lots of quaint nooks and crannies where you can enjoy an amazing selection of cakes, teas, coffees, alcohol and lunchtime foods. There's something about the place which kept drawing us back- we found ourselves there quite a lot this week! The building is split into different rooms with different themes, displaying items for sale. I really enjoyed the lavender cake here.

Abergavenny 

Known as Y Fenni in Welsh, Abergavenny is one of the main towns of the area. We visited on a day when the Jazz Festival was held in September, which, although small, had some pretty good musicians performing. Wales is known for its male voice choirs in particular, but there are lots of talented musicians in general in Wales, so checking out any local music events is a must. Abergavenny also has a food festival every year, which is popular among food lovers (also in September). Lots of pubs have live music on different days of the week- we had lunch listening to a jazz trio in a pub, which we stumbled upon by accident. 

We took a walk down the hill to the bridge and then walked back along the towpath up to the castle. The castle is free to visit and has a small museum located inside. 

Abergavenny is close to the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park, so walking up Sugar Loaf Mountain (not the Brazilian one!) is a possibility for the more adventurous. 

​New bridge on Usk, Celtic Manor

We went here for afternoon tea, as we read somewhere that this was one of the top 10 places to go for afternoon tea in Wales. Afternoon tea consists of tea (obviously) and cakes, and you can also opt to have sandwiches as well. Afternoon tea in Wales also has Welsh Cakes, a flat, sweet pancake like cake (forgive me any native welsh readers!) with currants and sugar. It was a lovely afternoon with views of the River Usk and a wide selection of teas.

Usk Castle

This castle was not accessible in the wheelchair, but it's a castle- lifts and elevators weren't around when it was built! It was a really pretty castle, not far from Usk centre and is also free to visit. There were good views from the castle, looking out over Usk and the surrounding area. This is one of my favourite castles I've visited, which surprised me because it's rather small in comparison to others. But it has a lot of character to it, and reading how often it changed ownership was interesting. 

Tintern Abbey

Tintern was about 30 minutes drive from where we were staying, but worth visiting. There's a pub and cafe next door where you can sit and eat/drink looking out at the abbey, and the food there was really good and featured typical 'pub' food, as well as some Welsh specials, like Bara Brith Ice Cream (I can't really explain what this is, Bara Brith is a welsh fruit spiced cake- it was good anyway!). The abbey itself is stunning, and, although in ruins, you can still clearly see where different elements of the abbey were laid out and imagine what it must have looked like when it was a working abbey. This was free to disabled people and a carer, as they say that some of the abbey is inaccessible, although my husband and I both agreed that we still saw nearly all of the abbey. There are family and group ticket discounts available. The abbey is next to the river, and there's a towpath you can walk along. 

​Goytre Wharf

Goytre Wharf is a canal with boats, canoes and canal boats available for hire. We didn't hire a boat but opted to have lunch in the cafe and then took a walk down the towpath. We followed the accessible route, which either wasn't sign posted well and we followed the wrong route, or it was very challenging in terms of accessibility with some very steep bits! Walking along the canal was lovely and we enjoyed views looking over the surrounding countryside. 

​Raglan Castle

This castle is stunning. We had lunch in the cafe round the back of the castle, which served really good food and had amazing views. In the castle itself, you can walk around the outside, go down the steps and walk next to the moat, explore the inside, and climb the towers. Like Tintern Abbey, this was free to disabled adults and a carer, but there were many parts of the castle which were inaccessible to wheelchair users, so it made more sense for it to be free here. I don't feel like I missed out though, there were lots of things to see in the castle grounds and outside, the views were spectacular and there were lots of exhibitions highlighting historical points of significance. 

Places nearby

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is about an hour away from where we were staying, and is well worth a visit. It's also home to Doctor Who! Cardiff Bay and the Millennium Centre are must-see places.

Hay-on-Wye and Ross-on-Wye are small market towns in the Wye Valley. There are second hand bookshops, castles and local shops and tearooms to explore.

The Forest of Dean, Brecon Beacons and The Black Mountains are all within driving distance, giving you the chance to explore Welsh countryside. 

Getting to Monmouthshire

Trains and buses run between Abergavenny and larger cities/towns such as Newport, Hereford and Cardiff, with connections to Manchester, Birmingham and London. There are also pretty good public transport links between the places we visited while away. There are a few airports nearby, including Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and London airports. 

Weather

The weather in Wales is variable and can change within a few minutes- beautiful sunshine one minute and torrential downpour the next. It's best to take a waterproof coat with you wherever you go! The rain is what makes Wales so green though, and you get some really dramatic looking photos in the rain!

Language

Wales has both Welsh and English as its languages, which means signs appear in both. While some people might speak Welsh in cafes and shops, they all also speak English as well.

These are just a few of the places in Monmouthshire we visited while away, there are many more which we didn't get the chance to visit!