It is winter – we are in Wales – we are walking.
There is a myth that it always rains in Wales. Not so! Chilly, bright sunshine today but muddy underfoot proving that it did rain yesterday.
Chepstow is the starting point in South Wales for the 880 miles of Wales Coastal Path (WCP) and as two women reasonably new to walking as an outdoor pursuit we are facing it head on!
We don’t want to stride continuously across the path in an effort to bag a long distance path – we want to enjoy, get a little bit fitter and who knows lose a couple of pounds while experiencing Wales like never before.
We parked the car at Caldicot Station. Boots on and away we go. We reckon we could walk between 7 to 10 miles and still enjoy the experience.
The path goes under the second Severn Bridge – a very different view from driving across it on the M4 motorway – the traffic hums in the distance – cheery dog walkers are enjoying a stroll in the sunshine.
We take a breather at Sudbrook, built in the late 19th century for the workers who worked on the Severn Railway tunnel – over 4 miles long with 2.25 miles running under the river Severn. Sudbrook has some of the earliest concrete houses in the UK.
Water coming in from the Welsh end caused the tunnel to flood in 1879, this became known as the “Great Spring’. Today the Pumping House dominates the village – pumping over 50 million litres of water daily and releasing it into the Severn
The earth might move for you in Sudbrook as the trains travel well underground to South Wales – London – Gloucester etc.
Such was our innocence in thinking that the red coloured on the WCP signs might mean an attraction or a tea stop. Of course, silly us – it is the sign for a high tide route! Much to learn!
We ploughed on through the marshes towards St Pierre and Mathern, through very muddy fields and absolutely legged it when we saw a large bull or bullock in the far corner of the fields.
Walking round the corner of the St Pierre Golf Course, we chatted to a group of young golfers also enjoying the winter sunshine.
Through to Mathern Village – a conservation area, dominated by the lovely 15 century church of St Tewdrig – King of Gwent and Glywysing – injured fighting the Saxons and subsequently died – a hero in these parts..
New born lambs in the field indicate that Spring is on its way. Sodden fields and deep mud in gateways is making it difficult.
The approach into Chepstow is mainly through industrial and housing estates. We reach Bulwark camp, followed by Garden city downwards into Chepstow. Some very instructive plaques show the local history – but we are too tired to take the information on board.
The path leads us through the 13th century town wall , taking in St Mary’s Church, and sideways onto Chepstow Castle built in 1067.
We were grateful to get to the Old Wye Bridge and depending on your direction of travel the end or beginning of both Offa’s Dyke walk and the Wales Coastal Path.
In Medieval times Chepstow was the largest port in Wales, renowned for its import of wine, and on that thought, we head off to the Three Tuns pub for a glass of the proverbial and call a taxi to take us back to our parked car.
Red is a high tide route – we may need to swot up on TIDE TABLES
Mud is energy sapping and can add hours onto a walk!