South Wales Coast ~ Walk 4. Newport (West) to Cardiff (East)

The start point for this walk was Lighthouse Road, Duffryn, Newport post code NP10 8TG. This walk covers 10 miles of the Wales Coast Path along the ‘Gwent and Wentlooge Levels’ from Newport to Cardiff. On Lighthouse Road the path is clearly way-marked into fields then follows a rough surfaced track over a bridge crossing the main rail line. The path then rises along the top of an embankment near the River Ebbw with views eastwards of the Uskmouth power station.

The path continues along the level top of the embankment following the course of the River Usk, then follows the seawall of the Severn Estuary westwards to Cardiff for 9 miles.

The raised seawall offers great views over both coast and countryside with only the occasional, live obstacle, to meander around.

The flat landscape along the top of the embankment is broken up by a setting of mature trees, which screen the magnificent West Usk Lighthouse. Constructed in 1821, the light to guide the busy shipping lanes of the Severn Estuary first operated on the 1st December that year.

West Usk has the distinction of being the first of 29 Lighthouses designed by James Walker, one of the most prominent civil engineers of his day. These facts and more details about Mr Walker’s achievements are recorded on an information panel displayed near the coast path.

The lighthouse was turned into a quirky B&B guesthouse some years ago but closed during the Covid pandemic and is now being marketed as a unique wedding venue. At one time it went up for sale with a cool asking price of £1.75 million. Perhaps there’s a coast walking secret millionaire out there, willing to snap it up!

Walking on towards St. Brides, there are fine views across miles of reclaimed fields and pasture land. These are the ‘Wentlooge Levels’ criss-crossed by a network of ‘reens’, the natural drainage channels which give a very similar landscape to the levels on the east side of Newport.

Inland there are views northwards of the countryside and rolling hills as far as Twmbarlwm. The prominent ridge with it’s distinctive ‘twmp’ Iron Age hill fort is a landmark feature of South East Wales.

We passed The Lighthouse Inn which is just down steps off the seawall. It’s a traditional style local pub, and has been a good option for some mid walk refreshments on this long section of path, however as of February 2023 it has closed.

At Peterstone an option is to take a short detour as a muddy footpath leads off the coast path into the village, passing alongside the impressive 12th Century St. Peter’s Church, now a luxury home.

At Peterstone, the local pub, The Six Bells Inn is closed and not opening anytime soon. Apparently it was sold back in 2018 perhaps to a property speculator as it has remained empty and abandoned since. It’s a sorry sight, yet another local pub lost.

Opposite the pub, the ‘Living Levels’ project has installed an information panel about the historic great flood of 1607 and nearby a stone pillar marks the height the waters were recorded to have reached.

Returning to the coast path route, continuing westwards there are superb views across the Severn Estuary as it widens towards the Bristol Channel. The flat, low coastal scenery combined with ‘big skies’ and dramatic cloudscapes gave a real sense of vastness and space.

Across the water are the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm and beyond is the North Somerset coast. Adding to the scene a flock of Canada geese in V-formation flew noisily above us, down the coastline.

Approaching Rumney, the fields and farmland give way to some scruffy yards and nearby is a huge soil recycling facility. The sounds of birds on the intertidal marshlands and the gentle rhythm of waves on the incoming tide are steadily replaced by the hum of heavy machinery drifting across from Cardiff’s industrial docks area. The path leaves the seawall and leads down to a narrow chicane of boulders and concrete blocks. This appears designed to prevent access to a modern menace, illegal off-road bikers.

The path bears to the right over a footbridge, a small WCP way-marker disc on the rail points the way alongside a reen flanked by reed-beds. It’s a sheltered habitat and we spotted some swans, a little Egret, moorhen and mallard here.

Further along the path leads onto a pavement at Lamby Way. It’s a very busy industrial link road, with lots of heavy goods vehicles and works traffic rattling by, it’s quite an underwhelming welcome into Cardiff.

The 10 miles of coast path covered on this walk are ‘bookended’ by sections of busy highways and bland urban areas, some distance from the coastline. While these ‘link’ sections serve a useful purpose for ‘thru-hikers’ on a long continuous trek, for other walkers it will be a personal choice on whether to complete these. At Newport a short 1 mile section from Newport Docks to Lighthouse Road, the route is along streets and a busy dual carriageway. Likewise at Cardiff there’s a 3 miles diversion of the WCP route through Tremorfa and East Moors urban areas.

6 thoughts on “South Wales Coast ~ Walk 4. Newport (West) to Cardiff (East)

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