Once again guided walks on the Gwent Levels proved to be a popular activity as part of this year’s Chepstow Walking Festival, attracting over 60 pairs of feet to our three guided walks! Walkers from as far as Leicester and Somerset, as well as some interested locals, were treated to the history, heritage and unique landscape from Rogiet to the mouth of the Usk, via an up-and-over adventure across the Newport Transporter Bridge!
The inclement Levels weather failed to dampen the spirits as 24 intrepid walkers set off on our first walk from the former Severn Tunnel junction marshalling yards of Rogiet Country Park to experience a six mile ‘Railways, reens and woodland ramble’ complete with a mysterious totem pole, four foot high wood ant mounds, some disappearing logs (which were supposed to be our lunch area/shelter from the rain) capped off by an intriguing old ‘Windmill’.
The following day offered the chance of seeing the predominantly flat landscape from some of the highest points on the Gwent Levels, as part of the ‘Gwent Levels from above’ walk. Kicking off with a short circuit at the Newport Wetlands and taking in the ‘wibbly-wobbly’ pontoon bridge, the treacherous estuary conditions were brought vividly to life as a suitably soaking maritime squall interrupted the fascinating history of the East Usk Lighthouse (delivered by volunteer Jeremy White) and the looming brutalist hulk of the 1950’s brick clad Uskmouth Power Station (B). Appropriately enough, the heavens cleared for St. Mary’s Church in Nash before discovering the field drainage features along the route on our way to negotiating the industrial bustle of Newport Docks. 75 feet of steel steps then awaited some 24 intrepid hikers, eagerly waiting to admire the spectacular (now sunny) views from one of the last operational transporter bridges in the world. A big thank you to volunteer back-markers and photographers Norman and Rhiannon Liversuch (fresh from Machu Pichu)!
Our third Living Levels walk, co-led by walking volunteer and ‘RATS’ researcher Maurice Turner, took in the fascinating ‘Churches of the Gwent Levels’ as eight miles were covered taking in St. Mary’s in Nash with its well-preserved box pews, ‘Leper’s squint’, 1607 Flood Marker and ‘Mass Dial’. A fascinating personalised tour of Goldcliff’ St. Mary Magdalene church was provided by Phil Ward included their well-preserved ‘Coffin Bier’. There was a brief peek at St. Mary’s in Whitson with its distinctive ‘Thimble’ spire followed by lunch at the beautiful medieval Church of St. Thomas at Redwick (plus Easter Eggs kindly donated by the Church!) and then a final march to Magor’s St. Mary’s via the ‘Marsh’ – all ably ‘back-marked’ by Dorothy Turner.
Keep checking our ‘Events Calendar’ for further opportunities to ‘polish up yer boots’and join us for more guided walks this year, including another chance to experience the Levels from above…