The 3rd walk on the South Wales section of the Wales Coast Path, starts at the Newport Wetlands Reserve at Nash. From there, we walked to Newport’s iconic Transporter Bridge on the River Usk. It’s just under 4 miles to the eastern side of the bridge, then a further 2 miles to the west side at Pillgwenlly.
Starting on a grassy track from the entrance near the Wetlands Reserve the path crosses fields towards Nash Village, passing near to the local pub, The Waterloo Inn. The village has an historic church, its tall steeple being a landmark of the area. A feature of walking this section are the numerous wood footbridges, necessary to cross the extensive network of ‘reens’ which drain the local farmland fields.
From Nash it’s a pleasant walk across countryside and low lying farmland as the path winds its way towards a local nature reserve, Great Traston Meadows.
Great Traston Meadows are a rare example of traditional hay meadows, rich with rare plants and wildflowers. If you walk here in early summer you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a profusion of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and bees, including the rare Shrill Carder Bee.
After walking across the meadows and fields the route follows a hedgerow lined cycle path then leaving the countryside scenery behind, runs alongside an industrial area and passing a dry dock before emerging onto the eastern bank of the River Usk.
There’s one more footbridge to navigate on this section, a quirky set up of metal steps over a rickety conveyor belt which runs from a riverside wharf to a nearby cement works.
The path continues as a grass track along the top of the east bank of the River Usk and leads towards one of the iconic landmarks on the Wales Coast Path…..
Newport Transporter Bridge
This marvellous feat of engineering was opened in 1906, and is one of only two operational transporter bridges in Britain, the other being in Middlesbrough on the River Tees.
Newport Transporter bridge is currently closed until 2023. Lottery Heritage funding has been awarded for a major refurbishment, with a new visitor centre planned. So there are very limited ‘open day’ opportunities to walk across the top deck during this time. Here’s a link to all the key facts and figures on the bridge.
I’ve been fortunate to visit the bridge in the past on open day events, climbing the stairwells and walking across the top a number of times, and it really is a great experience, if you’ve a head for heights!
Below are some photos taken on an open day event in recent years, when you could walk over the top walkway and travel back across the river on the gondola, an aerial ferry .
The walk from the Wetlands Reserve to the Transporter Bridge at Stephenson Street is just under 4 miles. From here the Wales Coast Path official route continues along industrial estate roads, a busy dual carriageway and across the modern Newport City Bridge to the west side of the River Usk.
If you’re not a ‘through-hiker’ then the temptation is to skip the next 3 plus miles of bland urban walking to Duffryn. But as it’s just a 2 mile walk around to the west side towers of the Transporter Bridge at Pillgwenlly it’s worth extending the walk to this point.
There are views from the City Bridge of the River Usk and towards the city and surrounding countryside. At the west side of the Transporter Bridge there’s an alternative view of the bridge and the wonderful cable suspended gondola.
The new visitor centre will be constructed on the west side of the River Usk near the current small car park and viewpoint area.
Because of the final road walking section, a Sunday is a good day for this walk. The roads are much quieter with fewer heavy goods lorries hurtling by, and the air less polluted.
The return walk takes us back over City Bridge, late afternoon sun lighting up the sky with a golden glow to provide a fitting backdrop for a wonderful silhouette of the Transporter Bridge.
This walk covered just under 6 miles of the South Wales section of the Wales Coast Path. With exciting new developments for a Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Centre planned for completion in 2023, this will undoubtedly become a superb attraction for walkers on the Wales Coast Path in future years. We look forward to seeing the project completed and visiting again.