Since completing Offa's Dyke Path over twelve days back in March I have somewhat neglected my walk around Wales. I had planned to be on the Pembroke Coast in July but I first have to traverse the South Wales Coast. I should have just got it done, but the attractions of Snowdonia for by actual birthday and too much work travel have made it difficult. If I am honest I was not looking forward to the Chepstow to Cardiff section as its mostly industrial or plain flat with few features. I had resolved to try and do it in two sections of around 20 miles each and that takes a lot of organising, especially as it had to be on a day when the Transporter Bridge in Newport was operational. I also had a little psychological block around the whole idea of walking to Newport (the Cardiff Boy syndrome).
Either way I started to realise that if I didn't get on and do it then it would never happen, so a family trip to Cardiff for my Aunt's 60th Birthday saw we resolve to do two days utilising the family with a second car as pick up and drop off. They were not wild about this, but given that I have managed every other walk without any assistance, despite complex public transport routes I decided to be stubborn and practiced the assumptive close: Do you want me to leave the Renault or the Saab at Chepstow? The idea, which did work, was that I would leave one car at the start of the walk early this morning and the family would come over later, pick up said car and meet me at the end point before we went onto Cardiff. This should have left plenty of time to change and get the birthday cake (our responsibility) to the restaurant in plenty of time.
So despite some general whispering I set off early and parked near the castle which forms a brilliant backdrop to the start. It was also the start of the Wye Valley walk and the place of many a trip with the kids, one of the best and most complete castles in Wales and the first built. From there through a park with a rather pretty marker stone and mural of the whole walk. After that to be honest the walk was depressing passing through the less salubrious backstreets of Chepstow. It was a long and pretty convoluted walking many on streets before I finally reached the coast. One water bottle also broke which was a pain but the initial view on the coast was reward enough with the tide out. For the next hour or so the walk would be dominated by the new Bridge. The old Bridge was behind me and I remember being taken to see it being built as a child. Until then you either drove via Gloucester or took the small ferry. In bad weather that could be a hazardous undertaking, but the bridge was a major attraction. We used to take a picnic and watch its construction!
From this point on the walk was long and very similar. Mostly on the top of a sea dyke with views to the left of Flat and Steep Holm over an estuary where the border line between mud and sea and sky indistinct for the most part. Ok mud can be pretty scenic, but not for the best part of ten unremitting miles. It was a relief (as my right leg was also starting to stiffen up from about 17 miles in) to turn off the dyke and head for the pub at Goldcliff which was the pickup point. By this type I was also receiving multiple whinging texts from members of the family who were trying to keep a cake intact and tool, pick up the Saab and generally make things on time. My wife had picked up my daughter from a part time job, then they had driven to Swindon to pick up son and girlfriend (about to be introduced to the South Wales clan for the first time). They had then set the sat nav but had not realised it had a no motorway option and lost time driving north instead of west (I worry about a sense of direction at times) so were running late. I was OK about it, time for a pint before being picked up .....