Distance: about 13 miles (but another mile if you are going to the train station) Walked May 12th 2012.
In my first post, I had left the path at Magor so today I drove from home to Severn Tunnel Junction Station leaving the car next to the nearby allotments, so I didn’t pass through Redwick on this occasion. I picked up the path at Rogiet Moor Reen, just after the firing range detour I mentioned in the last post. However, on July 11th I did walk along the path from Redwick.
All but the first ½ mile of this section of the path is within Newport City Council. Please report any problems to Andrew.Briscombe@newport.gov.uk
Starting from the Church, walk along the road towards the Rose Inn and take the first road on your right. About 100 yards down the road a footpath heads off left into a field. This takes you to a bridge over Windmill Reen where you turn left and re-join the path shortly after.
Continue the walk on the grass topped levee. After a short while a double pipeline running from the Llanwern Steel Works passes through the levee. These pipes take treated effluent and storm water into the Sever. About a ½ mile later the pink painted Porton House sits just below the levee. It’s a striking building both for its architecture and its lurid pink colour. But be cautious if you feel like taking a snap.
I was shouted and sworn at when I had done so and the angry occupant started chasing after me. It was only when I looked back that I saw the array of “dos” and “don’ts” that had been placed on a sign by the path, including “No Photos”.
(NB If you’re on a public right of way – such as a public pavement, footpath or public highway – you are free to take photographs for personal and commercial use so long as you are not causing an obstruction to other users or falling foul of anti-terrorism laws or The Official Secrets Act. Property owners have no right to stop people taking photos of their buildings, so long as the photographer is standing in a public place ).
The levee curves as it approaches Gold Cliff (the name originating from a limestone cliff where, seen from the estuary, a bed of yellow mica glitters in the sun).
The path leaves the coast at this point, to be diverted round a private property and the remains of a Benedictine priory. It then heads north and skirts the Mireland Pill Reen behind which are several small lakes and observation huts for bird watchers. This is part of the Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve. There is nothing to stop you climbing up the steps of one of the observation points that are open. But without powerful binoculars there wasn’t much to see on this visit.
This area is within the Caldicot Levels– a vast area of 17.500 acres of low lying alluvial land. This is what you are looking out over on the land side . The area has been flooded and then reclaimed form the sea since at least Roman Times, and is registered as a Landscape of Outstanding Historic Interest. The path joins a minor road at the village.After a few hundred yards on this road, the path heads for the coast again along the north side of this nature reserve. There is an opportunity for refreshment at The Farmers Arms in Goldcliff village, just 50 yards further along the road.
After about half a mile you return to the road you have just left and then meander through fields on the south side of this road until bringing you to a smaller metalled road heading south-west. This becomes a track (Cycleway No. 4) and then you find yourself on the concrete edged seawall once more.
You are approaching the mouth of the Usk. The sea wall gives you a fine view over the estuary. To your right is the largest section of the Newport Wetlands Reserve. A decrepit breakwater juts out to the estuary. The wide grit track runs along the southern edge of the reserve. To your right are thick reed beds hiding deep water pools and paths that allow visitors access to the several separate lakes.
After half a mile you pass a white painted lighthouse.
The view of the Uskmouth power stations and the overhead pylons begins to fill your view (gas fired on your left, coal on the right) until the path turns sharply to the right and you are walking right alongside them.
It is difficult not to be impressed by the engineering of these massive works. I actually felt excited to be so close to them (I don’t know what that says about me). The gas fired station has only been generating electricity since 2010. Its capacity is 824 megawatts.In many ways the coal fired station is the more interesting. It was built in 1959! It’s capacity is 393 megawatts, which is enough to power 360,000 homes, or the surrounding area of Newport. Between 1998 and 2001 the station was given a £120 million refurbishment in 1998/99 to bring it up to date with legislative requirements. The station is currently one of the cleanest coal-fired power stations in the United Kingdom, and is fitted with Flue Gas Desulpherisation equipment and low Nitrogen Oxide burners. It also burns biomass, as well as coal, for its emissions to be considered closer to being carbon neutral. The station does not take water from or dump waste water into the River Usk. It instead uses secondary treated sewage water in its cooling system.
The Path passes the entrance to the power stations and brings you to the car park of the Wetlands Reserve Visitor Centre– an excellent place with a super café and friendly staff. And toilets.
I got myself slightly off track as the path crosses the reserve and heads for the village of Nash. You want to be heading for the church and the large building of The Waterloo Inn although the path actually crosses the road where it bends to head towards the village. Cedar House Bed and Breakfastis just a quarter of a mile from the village. The path continues down a track and crosses a footbridge off to the right. It then heads due north through several very boggy fields and over a series of footbridges passing a small plantation of trees on the right. Ahead is another power source- two wind turbines. The path can be a little difficult to follow here but keep the turbines more or less ahead of you and you shouldn’t go wrong. After several more footbridges the path re-joins the track of Cycle way No.4 and turns west. You are entering the midst of a complex of light industrial works on the outskirts of Newport.
You are heading for the dockside. The track arrives at a road. Follow the road under a railway bridge, passing the entrance to Cemex Aggregates on the left and Marshalls on the right. The path then skirts along the top of the muddy banks of the Usk. At one point you cross over a small bridge under which a conveyor belt runs to awaiting ships on the riverside. Ahead is the Usk Transporter Bridge .Built in 1906 it is still in use today and is one of only 8 working examples in the world. If you arrive at the right time, my advice is to take the bridge across the river. The gondola takes cars and foot passengers.
The official path takes you around a long stretch of light industry and alongside the very busy and noisy A48 and has little to recommend it. And it’s been a long day and if you are staying in Newport you still need to get to your accommodation – or indeed to get to the Bus or train Station. If you decide to keep to the official path, you follow the road, passing playing fields on your right and passing under an orange painted railway bridge to a road junction. Turn left here and after about half a mile, after passing under another railway bridge, you reach the A48. Turn left and walk over the road bridge. The only compensation for keeping to the path is a good view over the Usk and of the Transporter Bridge. The path then follows the A48 for about a mile. And a tiresome mile it is too.
If you are heading for the station or the town centre you need to turn right at the first roundabout. The station is about a mile away; this road also takes you past the bus station.
I will probably have the mafia after me for this but despite getting married there, seeing a great Van Morrison and Georgie Fame gig, Anne passing her driving test there (first time, I cried) and it prompting one of the best YouTube videos (though really to get this you have to know the place a little), I have never liked Newport. Its main shopping streets are dull and I have spent far too long in the Royal Gwent Hospital. Sorry. I am not alone here – see this link. So the best I can offer is this link to a more upbeat guide to the City’s facilities. The Waterloo Hotel and Bistro is about half a mile after this roundabout on the right hand side in Alexandra Road. I haven’t been in yet but its the only place to stay that is actually on the path in Newport. Comments welcome.