Today the sun is shining. The ground is still muddy but I start my walk on the firm surface of proper pavements and roadways, passing through an industrial estate.
I soon get lost, of course. My paper OS map isn’t detailed enough and my Garmin fails to recognise the roads. (At first I think the estate is too new for my Garmin OS maps to read, but later I realise the map card has fallen out of its socket. Sometimes I love my Garmin. Sometimes I hate it.)
When I get myself back on the right road, I realise the Wales Coast Path is very clearly signed. I just need to have faith and stick to the track until it tells me to leave it. And it would help if I put my glasses on.
A footpath leads down to the bank of the river Usk. Across the water I can see the industrial docks on the other opposite bank.
The path is pretty and not too muddy. I pass clumps of flowering daisies. Don’t they know it’s winter?
On my right I’m walking past the back fences of industrial yards. At one point I have to climb over a conveyor belt. Luckily the Wales Coast Path people have provided a handy set of steps.
The path curves gently around, taking me closer towards the city of Newport.
I’m delighted when I can see the Transporter Bridge ahead. I’ve been looking forward to this. It is, from one point of view, an ugly metal gantry. But it is, from another point of view, a remarkable structure.
Transporter bridges are rare. They carry goods and people across a river by means of a dangling platform. It is a method of bridging a river while still leaving plenty of room for shipping to pass, and is useful in places where a conventional bridge or a ferry crossing would be impractical or difficult to build. Only a handful remain in operation around the world, and this is one of them.
Sadly, the bridge is closed for the winter. In any case, I couldn’t use the mechanical platform (that would be cheating) but I could have crossed by going up the stairwell and walking along the overhead gantry. I had been warned this is an exciting but vertigo-inducing adventure.
But it’s not possible today.
I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. I take two self portraits in front of the bridge – in one of which I’m scowling mournfully and the other (below) in which I’m looking cheerful, although slightly out of focus.
I have over a mile of road walking before I can cross the river. First I head inland to join the A38 and the road bridge.
On the way I come across a snack van. My husband mentioned it yesterday, but it was closed when he passed it on his bike. He wondered whether Dawn would live up to the promise of her van’s name. She does.
The road bridge – called the New City Bridge – looks superficially like a mini suspension bridge but is actually a bow-string arch bridge. I love the curving shapes and think it looks very elegant.
On the way over, a couple of scruffy young men pass me, one with his hood up. I feel uneasy, as I often do when I am on the outskirts of an urban centre.
I stop to take a quick photo downstream, including the transporter bridge in the distance.
Then I stow my camera away and begin to walk briskly. The next section of the walk is not particular pleasant. I march alongside a busy road and don’t take my camera out again until I reach the western end of the Transporter Bridge.
From there, I take a photo looking back upstream, catching the elegant curves of the new road bridge.
Now I want to take a photo of the Transporter Bridge from this end. But the sun is low and shining in my eyes, making it difficult to take decent photographs.
I do manage a reasonable photo of the platform, looking scarily fragile as it dangles down from the metal supports. When in operation, cars as well as foot passengers drive onto this and are carried across. It’s hard to imagine.
The bridge has a tiny visitor centre. Luckily it’s open and I have a chance to use the toilet – a relief because I haven’t seen a public loo since I entered Newport. I ask the lady at the counter if she has had many visitors. I am only the 3rd that day. She says the centre will close for winter in a week or two, but she doesn’t know why they keep the centre open after the bridge has shut down.
The Wales Coast Path leaves the busy road at this point and heads inland, weaving through housing estates. Usually I would follow the main road, as it’s the closer to the water, but since I am following a river, not the sea, I decide it’s OK to leave the traffic behind.
The path passes The Waterloo Hotel and Bistro. This name seems familiar, and then I remember the closed pub in Nash yesterday had the same name. Strange.
It’s much too early for lunch, but later, I discover this pub/hotel has a wonderful and historic interior, and wish I’d taken a look inside.
There is not much to say about my plod through Newport. Not a memorable walk.
I think you can tell a great deal about a place by looking at its graffiti. Below is the best I could find and the only graffiti photo that isn’t too obscene for a blog post. Really! Could – and should – do better…
I leave the road and head down a farmer’s track, passing over the railway line and managing to catch a train passing by beneath me.
In the distance, looking eastwards, I can see the Uskmouth Power Stations, where I walked through the Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve yesterday. The tall chimney is the old coal-fired station, now disused, and once the site where several Dr Who episodes were filmed. The two squat chimneys next to it belong to the newer gas-fired station.
Newport residents may be bad at graffiti, but they are good at littering the countryside. Here I come across another one of several illicit dumps I’ve encountered today. Shame. Why drive to a country track to dump your rubbish when you could drive to a tip and dump it legally?
Onwards. This track is leading me to the bank of the River Severn, and I will soon be back on a proper footpath.