Nature and Walks

Nature

  • The Wye Valley: Area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).  A fabulous drive.   Steep wooded valley and gorge running for miles between Chepstow and Monmouth.  You can continue up to Simmonds Yat if you want for further spectacular views.  In fact, it’s a lovely river all the way up to Hay on Wye.  (10 mins)
  • Forest of Dean: Something of a best-kept secret.  Lovely wooded areas, small villages, churches, and open spaces.  Home of Free Miners, one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, and its own cultural eco-system.   Look out for red deer, wild boar, badgers and ravens.
  • Usk Valley: Another relatively unknown treasure, this time of pasture, and rolling farmland.  Best seen at first from the road running between Devauden and Trellech (12 mins away), which shows a fabulous view of the Vale towards Usk and Abergavenny, with the Tolkien-esque mountains of the Brecon Beacons on the horizon.  Look out for buzzards, ravens and the occasional hot air balloon, heading back to Bristol on a summer’s evening.
  • Wentwood (the Gwent-wood): This takes its name from Venta, the Roman city.  A surprisingly large stretch of woodland which extends from The Forest of Dean (westwards) on the Welsh side of the Wye Valley).  Look for beech woods, aforestation, hidden evidence of ancient settlements (stone circles) and a truly remarkable view from the top of Grey Hill, (park by the reservoir above Llanfair Discoed.  From there it is about one mile’s walk uphill (can be tough but really worth it)).
  • Brecon Beacons (AONB): One of Britain’s largest areas of wild landscape, including river valleys, mountains and hidden forests.  Look out for waterfalls, soaring buzzards, and beautiful views of/from the Sugar Loaf (mountain), the Skirrid (whale-back mountain), the Blorenge (overlooking Abergavenny) and Pen-y-Fan  (45 minutes drive via A48 and A449 through Abergavenny, Gateway to the Beacons).
  • The Gwent Levels: 57 square kilometres and is a mixture of coastal floodplains, drainage channels known locally as ‘reens’, saltmarshes and mudflats. It’s this mix of wetlands which allows so many species of insects, animals and birds to find homes here.  There is a visitor centre at the RSPB Newport Wetlands Reserve with toilets, café and shop (30 mins) and Magor Marsh is the last relatively natural area of fenland on the Gwent Levels (20 mins drive).

Walks

To read and download information on local walks around Chepstow and Monmouthshire click here

This is a great area for walking.   You can consult the guide books in the Apple Barn, but here are a few favourites of ours.

  • The Wye Valley: Delightful wooded walks through Piercefield Park (7 minutes drive) to the Gorge on the Wye.  Level walks along the River Wye at Brockwier (20 minutes drive) and Redbrook (30 minutes drive) (park by football ground, costs £1, walk over railway bridge past the pub The Bridge (which does good lunches), and follow the old rail track downriver.
  • The Gwent Levels: If you want an open level walk, with a huge open vista, you could do a lot worse than drive down to Seawall on the Severn Estuary and walk along the seawall above the mudflats at Goldcliff.  There is a tea shop by the seawall when you get back to the car.  (25 mins drive)
  • Chepstow Riverside Walk.  A walk around Chepstow town and riverbank  http://www.chepstow.co.uk/Chepstow-Town-Council/Town_Trail_11239.aspx

    Walking from the Welsh Gatehouse, without getting in the car

    Rural walks straight from the door, across the fields, then either on to the next door golf course (St Pierre, where you can stop for lunch), or down to the Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary (though you do have to go through a field with electrical pylons in), or round the back of Mathern Palace and The Church of St Tewdric. Alternatively, down the drive, and turn left under the motorway and then turn left up the little lane to the local fishponds with huge fields to walk around. Or go through Mathern Village, cross over at Pwllmeyric, and take a 4 hour walk through Mounton and up to the Wye Valley. You can walk (on local roads) to Chepstow Castle.

    We are next to a golf course (St Pierre) that you can walk across, fields that you can walk across, and you can walk down to the Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary too, directly from us (though that walk does go underneath some electricity pylons!). There are walks uphill to the Wye valley, (a lovely circular walk that took 4 hours through Mounton). Then there are the fish ponds in the village…..

    If all else fails a walk around Mathern village shows interesting vernacular architecture, ancient holy well,  (go out of the drive and turn right), and 2,000 years of history.

Severn Bore

A curious phenomenon associated with the lower reaches of the Severn is the tidal phenomenon known as the Severn Bore . The river’s estuary , part of the Bristol Channel , has the second largest tidal range in the world which is approximately 15 metres , exceeded only (couple of feet) by the Bay of Fundy in Canada – and at certain combinations of the tides, the rising water is funneled up the estuary into a wave that travels rapidly upstream against the river current.

The bore travels a distance of approximately 25 miles between Awre and Gloucester. Severn Bore enthusiasts even attempt to surf along on the bore wave, which can be 2 m high. Being the onset of the flood tide it is accompanied by a rapid rise in water level which continues for about one and a half hours after the Severn Bore has passed.  To watch a You tube video of the Severn Bore click here
For more information visit http://www.severn-bore.co.uk