Walk 2 covers the section of Wales Coast Path between Redwick and Newport Wetlands. The start point is at Goldcliff, where parking is available at the end of the road near the seawall and along the roadside near Elm Tree Farm.
The walk was split into 2 parts. First we headed east from Goldcliff, along the top of the seawall to Redwick and back. We then walked westwards to Uskmouth, around the Newport Wetlands Reserve before returning to the start point at Goldcliff.
Goldcliff is just a few miles South-east from the urban and industrial areas of Newport. Quiet rural roads pass through villages eventually reaching the lane to the seawall at Goldcliff. With views across the Severn Estuary and the flat low-lying landscape of the Caldicot Levels, it’s a favourite place for many people living in the region. It offers an escape to a calm and tranquil spot and is popular with local walkers, birdwatchers and fishermen who set up their lines along the seawall at high tide.
The place name of Goldcliff comes from the time when medieval mariners on the estuary would see the yellow mineral ‘mica’ glittering like gold on an exposed cliff face, that was once near where Hill Farm stands today. This was recorded in 1188 by Gerald of Wales, traveller and chronicler of the age, who referred to ‘Gouldclyffe’ as “..glittering with a wonderful brightness.”
Today the seawall is marked by a band of yellow and orange lichen on the rocks which can be seen at low tide near the shore above the mudflats. When the tide is out, rivulets form striking patterns and shallow pools on the mudflats which stretch into the distance.
Between Goldcliff and Redwick, at Porton is a large, pink painted house. Large signs displayed at stiles either side of the stretch of seawall which passes the house prohibits almost all activity bar simply just walking past, so good advice is to keep moving on this stretch!
From the seawall, seen every so often are lines of timber posts extending out from the shoreline across the mudflats. These are the remains of Salmon ‘putchers’, fish traps believed to have been started by monks from a long gone Priory during medieval times. There’s a fascinating history to this activity, read about it here.
The first part of the walk along the seawall is an easy going 5 miles ‘there and back’ in under 2 hours.
At Goldcliff there’s usually the option for a welcome break at the Seawall Tearooms. It’s very handily situated right on the coast path route, although it was closed when we walked by on the day. So after taking a short break sitting atop the seawall, we then set out on the second part of our walk.
The coast path route continues along the road, heading away from the seawall. It turns inland across marsh fields around the flooded area of the Goldcliff lagoons, a protected breeding area for wading birds. Walking here is across low lying fields below the level of the seawall, so there’s no view of the estuary for a while.
The lagoons are a popular spot for ‘twitchers’ and some bird hides are dotted around the area to provide viewing platforms. As we were on the move we didn’t see any wading birds, the only signs of life we saw up close were of the wingless variety as some sheep grazed alongside the Reens.
There are a series of display boards dotted along the route which provide helpful information about the birdlife and landscape.
After crossing more fields of salt-marsh grasslands, the path turns towards the banks of the Severn Estuary. Walking along the sea defence bank there are good views ahead to the mouth of the River Usk and the southern side of the Wetlands Reserve. Further in the distance, the tall chimneys of Uskmouth power station and huge electricity pylons come into view.
The path passes by East Usk lighthouse which has stood here since 1893. The more substantial West Usk Lighthouse sits on the opposite bank across the River Usk.
The Wales Coast Path runs around the southern edge of the Wetlands Reserve but links with a number of trails. The ‘Wetlands Experience Trail’ is the longest, a loop walk around the Reserve of about 3 miles. It’s a nice easy going walk alongside reed-beds, woodland, across salt marsh fields and links back to the Wales Coast Path.
Perhaps surprisingly we didn’t see that many birds on the day, but I was pleased to get a photo of a reed bunting along the way.
Read more about Wetlands Nature Reserve here.
The RSPB Wetlands Centre has superb facilities with a shop, nice cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, and toilets available. Definitely worth a stop here on route. Full information on the RSPB Wetlands Visitor Centre here.
Having reached the point where the trail rejoins the Wales Coast Path we retraced our steps, heading back to Goldcliff.
On the way back to the seawall, just a short distance away is the village pub, The Farmer’s Arms. We didn’t call in on this occasion but have done previously, it’s a nice traditional place and a convenient rest stop option for some liquid refreshment on route.
This was a fine day’s walking, easy going on level terrain. This walk in total covered almost 16 miles in just under 6 hours, about 7 and a half of those miles on the Wales Coast Path.