Nearly … but not quite

Alec and I, after our cycle trip from Margam Park to Mumbles, determined that we needed to fill in the missing link of the Wales Coastal Path that we hadn’t done yet between Chepstow and The Gower – the stretch from Severn Tunnel Junction to Newport. We’d sort of decided that we didn’t need to do all of the walk in to Newport and so the Newport Wetlands Reserve was our intended destination. We didn’t make it!
Goldcliff (10 of 12)

Whether it was the rest of a couple of weeks we’d had, or perhaps it was The Farmer’s Arms at Goldcliff, or maybe it was Alec’s bad foot, or my bad ankle, but we didn’t manage more than 9.7 miles walking on this occasion. It was however, a much better walk than we’d anticipated with wonderful views across the estuary, and distant and confusing views of Steep Holm and Flat Holm. The Google Map of the walk can be found here.

As usual we made full use of public transport, catching the train out of Cardiff to Severn Tunnel Junction, and catching the NAT Service 63 bus back to Newport from Goldcliff. Working out bus and train timetables has been an unexpected pleasure and I’ve taken the responsibility for these logistics whilst Alec has sourced the pubs – it’s the only chance he has of getting “hoppy beers”.

The weather was fine, just a couple of spots of rain, the light was strange – whilst we seemed to be in shadow most of the time, everywhere else was in bright sunshine and visibility was great so we seemed to be able to see forever. We saw a Red Kite – never seen one in this part of Wales – Alec saw a Sparrowhawk near Goldcliff Pill (the bird reserve) but otherwise there was not much to comment on the wildlife.

So … a good walk, the gap to be completed next week with a visit to The Transporter Bridge planned as well! Some great views of the Severn Bridge in the distance as we walked away from it; some interesting views of a submerged river cliff (Liassic) – that I didn’t know was there; and no one else on the path!
Goldcliff (1 of 12)

A pleasant lunchtime at The Farmers Arms – pints of Fubar (Alec) and Cwtch (me) were enjoyed with our chips. To end the day, a lovely sky as I walked towards Queen Street Station.
Goldcliff (11 of 12)

A couple of other photographs can be seen below. First, a distant view of the bridge with the mud covering the river cliff.
Goldcliff (4 of 12)

Then, a better view of the strange Liassic river cliff that before today, I hadn’t known existed.
Goldcliff (7 of 12)

The route we took …

Beside the River Severn

So … out of sequence, our (Alec and me) great walk starts here, in Chepstow. A train ride and then a gentle walk through the town (stopping only to get some pork pies and water from Tesco) and we start the Wales Coastal Path – having done two stretches of it a couple of weeks before – here and here. The walk starts on the old bridge, originally the lowest crossing across the Wye and a fitting place to start any long-distance walk near to where the Offas Dyke Path joins the Severn River.
Severnside (1 of 16)

The Google Map shows the 11.6 miles we walked today, a varied walk with loads of interest and great vistas of the Severn Crossings.

The bridge is decorated with colourful flower boxes, the castle dominates the landscape and we arrive just after a high perigean spring tide, allowing the Wye to look its best!
Severnside (4 of 16)

Enough of geography and oceanography though. We walked up the hill and through one of the town wall gates and from there through housing developments until the path emerged into woodland and eventually open countryside – allowing us to see the river and the estuary in the distance. The two bridges were to dominate our walk today.
Severnside (6 of 16)

Approaching Black Rock – the Second Severn Crossing.
Severnside (8 of 16)

Before you pass under the magnificent Second Severn Crossing road bridge you walk through the Black Rock nature reserve. Definitely a place to re-visit as was Sudbrook, just a little further on, where the village grew up around its massive pumping station – built to keep the Severn Railway Tunnel free from flooding. The village has its own little museum which I must re-visit – possibly on a Friday (but the reason for that must wait for another day).
Severnside (10 of 16)

So once through Sudbrook you truly feel that you have started your walk along the Severn. The size of the new bridge is just staggering as you approach it and then walk underneath it.
Severnside (11 of 16)

One of the many thistles we’ve seen on our walks this summer.
Severnside (12 of 16)

A last look at the bridge before we head inland towards Caldicot. The Caldicot and Wentloog Levels, sometimes called the Gwent or Monmouthshire Levels have both a historic and environmental significance and it was good over two walks to get to know them better.
Severnside (13 of 16)

The stretch from the bridge to Severn Tunnel Junction is generally lacking in variety. The wetlands provide interest for their birdlife, butterflies were everywhere, but the scenery is big and unchanging. None more so than the long trek up the road from the footbridge where we crossed the M4 to the station.
Severnside (16 of 16)

If you have the time, you can see these images, and a few more, on Google+ Photos (Picasaweb).

Here’s the Google Map of the walk …