This first walk on the South Wales section of the Wales Coast Path starts at Redwick Village, on the boundary of Newport and Monmouthshire.
The route is eastwards, mostly along the banks of the Severn Estuary, then across countryside and ending at Chepstow. Finishing the walk at the town offers choices for food & drink and bus services to get back near Redwick.
Redwick to Prince of Wales Bridge
We start next to St. Thomas Church, where an engraved stone on the exterior wall marks the height of the Great Flood of January 1607. Records from the time tell of a tidal wave, up to 25ft high, which swept up the Severn Estuary and submerged the low lying land.
Whole villages were swept away, 3000 lives believed lost with the devastation particularly severe along the coast of South East Wales. This devastating event is still a matter of academic interest, whether a tsunami was the cause.
A way-marked path leads across fields to the seawall, to join the Wales Coast Path.
The seawall protects the areas of low lying farmland and marshes known as ‘The Gwent Levels’ from the tidal waters of the Severn Estuary. The tidal range of the estuary is quite incredible and is the 2nd highest tidal range in the world.
With a light breeze and calm waters on the estuary, it was a fine day for a peaceful and pleasant walk. The raised level of the seawall provides sweeping views across the expanse of the Severn Estuary for the first few miles of this walk.
The seawall path leads towards Rogiet, and the impressive structure of the Second Severn Crossing bridge, is now in sight ahead.
It was very quiet along the coast path, just a couple of walkers and a group of fishermen setting up lines on the tide at the edge of the marsh banks.
The flow of the walk is broken near Rogiet due to a convoluted detour inland to go around a military firing range. Unfortunately, this entails an uninspiring walk of minor roads near Caldicot and twice crossing highway bridges over the M4 motorway.
After a couple of miles it’s good to get back to the banks of the Severn and the bridge looms ever larger as the path heads towards, then underneath, the huge structure.
As you pass underneath the carriageway there’s a great perspective on the engineering feat of the bridge, and its graceful curve across the Severn Estuary.
Sudbrook to Mathern
The path continues on through Sudbrook, the village developed to house workers during the construction of the Severn railway tunnel in the 19th Century. It was a major engineering feat of the day and the red brick Pumping Station is still the most prominent building in the village, as millions of gallons of water are drained each day from the tunnel.
Sudbrook has a much longer history with an Iron Age hill fort and nearby the stone ruins of a 12th century chapel are all that now remains of an earlier medieval settlement near the banks of the Severn Estuary.
Walking on to Black Rock, Portskewett, a pleasant picnic area with bench seating and viewpoints is a perfect place for a rest stop. It’s a popular walking site for locals and the area was busy with lots of families and dog walkers enjoying the fine day outdoors.
A ‘People of the landscape’ project has installed sculptures along a heritage trail nearby. Read more about this project here . For walkers interested in a short walk near the estuary, then Black Rock is an ideal place on the coast path with good access and car parking.
From Black Rock there’s a fine view of the graceful span of the original Severn Bridge.
The route meanders at St. Pierre, passing a secluded inlet with sailing boats, then over a level rail crossing on a rail line, a golf course and across fields towards the old village of Mathern.
Mathern to Chepstow
Mathern is steeped in the legends of a 7th century Celtic chieftan, King Tewdric, who died there after being wounded in a battle at Tintern. A church was dedicated to him at his burial place and he was declared a Saint and martyr, St. Tewdric.
An impressive carved sculpture of Tewdric stands outside the Church in Mathern. Learning more about the interesting history, local legends and folklore linked to places such as Mathern, is a really enjoyable part of the experience of walking the Wales Coast Path.
From Mathern the path crosses farm fields, then heads through some bland urban areas on the way into Chepstow. There’s the brief highlight of an occasional view of the River Wye and the towers of the original Severn Bridge.
After passing Bulwark, there’s a section of preserved Chepstow Port Wall, part of the 13th century medieval town defences. I had some personal interest here, as my late grandfather’s family had lived at Portwall Cottage, long since gone.
From here it’s a steady downhill walk through streets leading into Chepstow town, along a lovely riverside setting overlooking the elegant ironbridge on the River Wye.
A landscaped area on the Riverside has a couple of stone pillars to mark the start / finish point of the Wales Coast Path. A stone mosaic circle set in the ground commemorates the official opening of the path in 2012 and is a lovely piece of colourful artwork representing the coastline of Wales.
So a first section of the South Wales Coast is under our belts, although a ‘not-so-short’, quite long walk over 16 miles in 7 hours.
Start ~ Redwick Village / Finish ~ Old Wye Bridge, Chepstow
Distance ~ 16.4 miles
Time ~ 7 hours
Rest Stops ~ Black Rock Picnic site ( seating / picnic tables, but no facilities);
At the start ~ The Rose Inn, Redwick has a good menu, a highly rated and popular traditional village pub;
Along the route ~ The Millers Arms, Mathern, a short detour off the route, usual pub facilities with a good menu and selection of real ales;
End of the route at Chepstow ~ lots of choice with pubs, restaurants, shops in the town. Bus services run regularly to Newport.
Chepstow is officially a Walkers Are Welcome town, click on the link for further details.
A long but enjoyable day walk with scenery, interesting history and engineering marvels along the way. Walking was easy going along the Severn Estuary, on a low and flat landscape.
Some road walking on the inland detour at Caldicot & the urban approach outside Chepstow were not so enjoyable.
For walkers looking to avoid the road sections around the M4, an alternative for this stage would be 2 shorter walks, to focus on the main highlights along the Severn Estuary.
5 thoughts on “South Wales Coast ~ Walk 1. Redwick to Chepstow”
A good walk to start out on a new path network.
Full of really interesting observed information and quality photos to match.
The Route Recap provides a very useful summary – especially the ongoing mention of places to rest and eat.
A bit of a marathon this one – well done.
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Thanks Cato, 👍
Enjoyable to walk that again through your eyes. Lovely shots of the Prince of Wales Bridge.
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