The Creators of Long Distance Footpaths are Arses!
Truly, what were they thinking. And it must have been a man…
I got the train to Chepstow and began my walk back to Cardiff. It was meant to be a three day walk with two nights camped out but due to it’s lacklustre scenery, poor footpath surfaces and diversions away from the coast I ploughed on on both days and despite only starting at 11am on the Monday morning I was in Cardiff by 3pm on the Tuesday. 40 miles done and dusted!
And why a man? Well, men are collectors aren’t they. A man wouldn’t be happy without having the Wales Coast Path start and finish at Wales’ boundaries with England. And I don’t think the designer of this section even walked it. It’s that memorable only for the pain it inflicts and why would they wish that on tourists in Wales?
Getting out of Chepstow is easy enough and the signage for the path is excellent. But it’s not a coast path. You have to walk 8km to see the ocean (estuary) and then only briefly as the path moves away from the coast and through housing and back again. At Sudbrook there is the only architectural ruin of note and that won’t be there for long… It is not well cared for. From Sudbrook to Rogiet and beyond you are walking near the M4 and so the background noise is always there and is sometimes intense. Just before Rogiet you have to leave the coast again, this time for 5km, as the Army own a thin sliver of coast and use it for live round practice. They were, annoyingly, shooting the day I was there and interestingly I was listening to the account of soldier ‘F’s testimony to the Saville enquiry. I’ve never much liked guns…
Beyond Rogiet the coast is followed through to Goldcliff and it was in the bird sanctuary there that I made my camp. The walk to Goldcliff was OK, estuary views, but very muddy indeed and notices along the way reminding users of the countryside that they could not stray from the path as they were walking through private land. Nice and welcoming I thought…
Day 2 was a walk in two halves. The first half of the day was negotiating Newport, a stinking, quite literally of death in places, noisy, so much so that my audible book being listened to through my earbuds was drowned out, and architecturally uninspiring environment. It was a joyful moment to reach the East Usk Lighthouse and begin the long dyke walk to Cardiff. At least this was empty of people and so of industrial and waste, stench and noise.
And so I kept going, head down, until I reached Cardiff’s stinking and noisy side and where Wales Coast Path walkers are directed past landfill and to walk alongside busy tipper and container lorry laden roads. I headed into Central Cardiff at this point, choosing not to be directed to walk behind the travellers camp with the clear mistreatment of horses on display and the dust and noise from the metal recycling plant close by.
Of course once past the horrors that humanity makes of it’s environment you get to Cardiff Bay and that is where I will pick up the path for my next leg, which will be Cardiff to Swansea and so taking in for much of the length of the walk the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
That was forty miles in a couple of days and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. In fact had I known it was so awful I would never have considered walking that section of the path. I’m not a stamp collector! I simply regard it as exercise…
Given that the path is generally walked North to South I think it would have been sensible for the creators of the path to simply have missed it out, having the path end in the capital city, Cardiff. And so, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should… It’s not a good look to have the abiding memory of walking the coastal path that of the nastiness of eastern Cardiff and of Newports industrial heart.
And I will never get those days back!
Until next time…