“Discovering the shape of a nation”
As you have probably heard, there is now an official long distance footpath around the whole of the Welsh coast and it is 870 miles long. You can even complete the circuit by following the Offa’s Dyke Path back to the start (extending the route to more than 1,000 miles) which makes Wales the only country in the world with a path such as this. This multi-million pound project which took 6 years to come to fruition has linked up existing coastal paths with newly created ones to make the entire Welsh coastline accessible to walkers. It is of course, the much anticipated Wales Coast Path, voted by Lonely Planet magazine as the World’s Greatest Region in its 2012 travel guide. For further information on the Wales Coast path visit: www.walescoastpath.gov.uk
Representatives of Monmouthshire Walking Festival were in Chepstow and Cardiff as the the launch celebrations took place.
The southern end of the path starts by the old bridge on the bank of the River Wye in Chepstow. The start is marked by a large stone and a circular mosaic embedded in the path and designed by a local potter, Ned Hayward. It follows a route near the river mainly on footpaths around the edge of Chepstow, passing the end of the newly established Tewdric’s Trail in Mathern to reach the coast on the edge of the Bristol Channel and following it towards Newport. That is the Monmouthshire section.
A ceremony was held in Chepstow to mark the opening of the path and to celebrate the official accreditation of Chepstow becoming a Walkers are Welcome Town. The walk was organised by the Lower Wye Ramblers in conjunction with Monmouthshire Countryside Service.
The Chepstow Singers entertained the crowd before the Mayor of Chepstow cut the ribbon to open the path. Local walking groups including Walkers are Welcome and Monmouthshire Walking Festival also had displays in the local TIC. Walkers are Welcome also very kindly provided refreshments on the day.
An official group of about 90 walkers, organised by Lower Wye Ramblers and preceded by local scout groups, then set out to walk to Sudbrook on the coast path, a distance of just under 7 miles.
The route itself is very well marked with finger and waymark posts. Markers have even been embedded in the pavement in places where the route follows short sections of road in the suburbs.
Once out of Chepstow itself the walker is rewarded with views across the Wye and eventually across the Severn. There are many opportunities to see many varieties of birds along this section both in the woodland near Chepstow and along the estuary. It is also a great path to view the engineering feat of the Severn Bridges as well as the history of the Severn Railway tunnel around Sudbrook.
Despite being such a large group for this walk, members kept together well and kept up a comfortable pace all the way to Sudbrook where refreshments were laid on before using buses to return to the start.
In Cardiff Bay, TV news presenter Frances Donovan hosted the day’s events which included St Clare’s School children’s choir and the Duo-Flex Sound of Steel kicking off proceedings. Then at 12.30p.m. Environment Minister John Griffiths officially opened the Wales Coast Path.
Wales Coast Path runner, Anne-Marie Beresford-Webb later passed the baton to walker Dave Quarrell. Dave is walking the 1027 miles around the coast and border of Wales in June 2012 to raise money for Cancer Research. His blog can be followed at: www.walkwales1027.com and he will be walking the Monmouthshire section of Offa’s Dyke and the coastal path on days 68 to 70.
After the opening ceremony, Ramblers Cymru began a series of walks and those that remained in Roald Dahl Plas were treated to Welsh folk dancing and a male voice choir.
A great day then, with the Welsh weather proving very kind indeed. If all of this has captured your imagination, then Monmouthshire Walking Festival has a walk for you. Why not try our Castle Coast and Countryside walk? Taking place on June 29th as part of our summer festival, we’re starting in the grounds of Caldicot Castle through St.Pierre’s Great Woods then past Monmouthshire’s last corn mill to the St Pierre Golf resort with its ancient manor house and church. It is here we join the Wales Coast Path passing historic Black Rock with its salmon fishery and then to Sudbrook built to construct the Severn Tunnel, and then back, passing an iron age fort and the Second Severn Crossing. Why not check out details of this and other walks on offer at: www.walkinginmonmouthshire.org?
5th May 2012