Our lovely Airbnb host gives us a lift from Magor back to the sea wall where we finished yesterday. Turning left we set off eastwards on the grassy raised bank. It’s going to be another hot day. Lost in thought and eyes on my feet I lift my head to take in the view and catch sight of a field of cows (or are they bullocks?) off to our left. I have never been frightened of cows, I spent my childhood working/playing on a farm, but while doing this walk I was once chased and forced to scramble over a barbed wire fence, ripping my waterproof trousers in the process. Since then I have heard quite a few stories of killer cattle injuring people, so I suddenly feel a little anxious as there is no fence between them and us. To add to my worry, on seeing us, the whole herd set off at a determined trot towards us. Damian is not perturbed and thankfully, on realising that we are not coming to feed them they halt their advance and stand and stare.
We walk on. Up ahead is a stretch of coastline marked on the map as a danger area -shooting practice for the military perhaps. We do hear intermittent gunfire. This means that we have to walk inland up a track which then joins a cycle track and a bridge spanning the M4.
The coast path then turns back to the coast, leading us UNDER the M4 and the new Severn Bridge – what fun!
…..until we reach Sudbrook, a village which marks the beginning of the Severn Railway Tunnel which opened in 1886. Most of the houses in the village were built for railway workers. Towering over the village is an enormous pumping station once used to pump water from the tunnel.
By now both of us are feeling a little peckish so when a stretch of grass, trees and picnic benches appears, we stop for a rest. The area is named Black Rock and from here the original Severn Bridge can be seen. It looks beautiful but we will later come to hate it.
A little later on the path turns inland again, running through fields, past a few farms and through a village named Malvern. It is here we pick up a cycle track and an innocent grassy approach to the bridge we need to cross. It is still extremely hot, we are tired and have run out of water.
Crossing the Severn Bridge is a huge disappointment for me as I was looking forward to being on close terms with such an iconic structure. The noise of the vehicles whizzing past is deafening and there is very little protection from the road for cyclists or walkers. The sun is beating down on my tired and worried brow – I get out my scarf (cotton) and drape it over my head and face. The bridge just seems to go on and on. I occasionally emerge from my head tent to squint up at the first of the two rugby post towers but to my dehydrated brain it never seems to get any closer. Half way across Damian calls a halt – I realise I am panting. I feel like a refugee heading for the border of a promised land although the difference is that there is no danger of being turned back.
At last we reach the end and can see a motorway service station a hundred yards up the road on the other side – there is a bridge over the road (a constant theme of this walk). Hobbling in to the Costa I concede to drinking an ice cold Cola and a burger from Burger King – I cannot remember the last time I did this, if at all. We call it a day and ring an Uber to take us into Bristol.
Lesson learnt: always make sure you have enough water – but it is only April!
Distance: 15 miles