The start point for this walk was at Lighthouse Road, Duffryn, on the West side of Newport. The Wales Coast Path official route from the Transporter Bridge, Newport to Cardiff Bay is about 14 miles. This walk covers 10 miles of the coastline between the 2 cities.
It was a fine October day, an autumnal bracing breeze with low sunshine breaking through shifting clouds, conditions that make for an enjoyable walk.
The start point was near the local pub, The Stone House, worth noting as there’s not many options for a refreshment stop on the walk ahead. On Lighthouse Road the WCP is clearly way-marked into fields then a rough surfaced track crosses a bridge over the main rail line. The path rises along the top of an embankment near the River Ebbw gout, with views eastwards to the Uskmouth power station.
The path runs along the top of the seawall embankment following the course of the River Usk out to the Severn Estuary. From here it’s a mostly level walk for the next 9 miles westwards to Cardiff.
The raised seawall bank offers great views over both coast and countryside with only the occasional 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 West Usk Lighthouse.
The West Usk Lighthouse was constructed in 1821, the light to guide the busy shipping lanes of the Severn Estuary first operating 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’, a very similar landscape to the rural areas east 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 is a good option for some mid walk refreshments on this long section of path. We decided to walk on further to The Six Bells pub at Peterstone, which is listed in some coast path guides as still open.
At Peterstone 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 we found the Six Bells Inn was 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 great flood of 1607 and a stone pillar marks the height of the waters recorded at the time.
Returning to the coast path route, the views of the Severn Estuary as it widens towards the Bristol Channel are just stunning. The flat, low coastal scenery combined with ‘big skies’ and dramatic cloudscapes gave a real sense of vastness and space.
In the distance across the water are the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm and the North Somerset coast. Adding to the scene a flock of Canada geese in V-formation flew noisily above us, down the coastline.
Approaching Cardiff, on the landward side 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.
At Rumney the path leads away from the coast, a grass bank slopes 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. Nearby is Cardiff’s major waste recycling site and the telltale peculiar odour from waste processing hangs in the air. It’s a busy road, lots of H.G.V.s and works traffic providing an underwhelming welcome to Cardiff. We finished the walk at this point on Lamby Way, as we plan to pick up the next stage of the WCP at Cardiff Bay.
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.