A family event has taken Damian and I to South Wales and there is just enough time for a short walk up the west bank of the Severn Estuary.
For those who are not aware of it, the Severn Estuary has the second highest rising tide in the world (the first is in Canada), a fact that was drummed into me by my father when I was a child. We lived in Penarth and often used to walk across the causeway to Sully Island, making sure that we got back before the tide turned. One day I took my little sister out to the island and for some reason my father’s warnings went unheeded – we had to be rescued by the lifeboat. I was never allowed to forget it……
Anyway, here we are up on the sea wall opposite a little village called Peterstone Wentlooge, approximately half way between Newport and Cardiff. The weather looks unreliable and indeed as soon as we start walking a sudden squall sends me scrambling for my waterproofs, but it doesn’t last long. The walk is straightforward, we pass fields of riding school horses on our right and to our left the quagmire of the estuary. After a mile or two a sign brings us up short, sending us off to the right. This deviation is to allow for flood defence work on the sea wall – there are diggers and cranes remoulding the bank.The deviation takes us past another field of horses where Damian stops for a chat.We follow the path around the edge of a few fields, over a newly constructed bridge and then back onto the sea bank. On the way we pass large areas of rushes, their purple fronds shimmer as they sway in the wind.
We walk for a while on the breakwater and then turn off left on to a path which follows the east bank of a small inlet. The sun comes out, a couple of swans glide silently past – it is very peaceful. We come across knots of people blackberrying – one of my mother’s favourite pursuits.
Coming to the end of the water we are forced to turn on to the very busy A4232 but thankfully not for long. A path leads off to the left and up the side of the Rhymney River – another low tide mudscape. A lone horse stands tethered, and then another – the small one doesn’t really have such short legs, the photo was taken from above looking down.
They look like gypsy horses put out to graze and true to form we soon find ourselves stumbling over piles of rubbish and metal on blackened burnt out ground – there is an ominous barking of angry dogs. As we creep past past the motley collection of mobile homes and caravans we find out that it is not only the dogs who are angry. A terrific crash sends an enclosure full of grubby geese a’squawking and a tirade of angry abuse rings out across the encampment, swiftly followed by a women’s voice screeching in retaliation. We scuttle past, coming face to face with a disgruntled bulldog, (on a chain fortunately) and then up a steep bank and away. Not a pleasant experience.
The next part of the walk is a wonderful antidote. Some effort has been made to landscape the area encircling a water treatment plant. Rows of buddleia have been planted and there are a couple of information boards. Bushes with tight clusters of bright orange berries line the path – any ideas? Not for eating methinks.Gradually industrial buildings and machinery begin to dominate and soon there is nothing but cars and tarmac. We follow the road on a wide pavement through quite a pleasant area of light industry up through East Moors and on to Atlantic Wharf where a few boys are fishing in the stagnant water.
Distance: 8 miles