Day 074: Black Rock to Lighthouse Park
Distance: 25.49 miles
Ascent: 672 feet
Accommodation: Camping Lighthouse Inn Beer Garden
It rained absolute buckets all last night, and though the tent kept me dry I did not sleep overly well, presumably due to the noise. I was up and off very early around 7 and made quick progress through Sudbrook and under the Second Severn Bridge as the sun was still rising. The path joined the sea defences, and shortly after it diverted inland to Caldicot, to get around a rifle range I think, before rejoining the sea defences.
I was on these sea defences for the next 6/7 miles, and the sun was blazing and in fact I was sure I was starting to go a bit rosy and had told myself that even though it was only March I would have to buy some sun cream in the next shop at Newport. These sea defences are scenic, though the muddiness made the going fairly tough, and stupidly I had slightly miscalculated the food in my backpack and all I had left was cereal and oat bars which I was bored off after having eaten 5 already for breakfast/snacks, so was just hoping the little tea room at Gold Cliff (the only option for miles) would be open as I needed some food quite desperately.
Thank god the tea room was open and I was unsurprisingly the only one there at 11 in the morning but I got my sugar hit and was now ready for some more walking. The path diverted inland a little at this part and around a nature reserve where the paths were practically just a bog, and it took a little effort to find a passable route though it was a beautiful little reserve.
From this nature reserve the path re-joins the road for a short while before heading to the bigger Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve. Within this one the paths were of good quality and made for good walking and speedy progress and the design meant that unless you entered the hides you could not really see the pools which is actually sensible so general walkers don’t disturb the birds.
A short distance after the nature reserve the path heads through a series of power stations and industrial units making for a quite depressing part of the route before the path hits Newport. I stopped here at a Morrisons to stock up on everything including sun cream, my backpack was noticeably heavier after (in fact it was at least 20% heavier) this shop. Newport appears to be bit of a mecca for bridges, with 5 different styles and wacky ones at that visible from and including the one I crossed on. The transporter bridge must be the most wacky and is one of only 6 left in the world, probably due to its incredibly impractical design. But the gondola platform hanging from the superstructure high above and slowly moving across the water is quite a sight, and it is great that they have kept it going. Unfortunately it is closed till April, though for some reason it did cross whilst I was watching it, presumably carrying out checks ready for the opening.
The path took another depressing route out of Newport, through industrial and deprived areas of Newport, before finally hitting the countryside again, near Whitecross Farm. I followed the farm tracks back to the coast where I proposed to pitch for the night, near the giant pylon, but on getting there the ground was just to waterlogged. I had arrived early around 4:30 so had time, though not the energy to carry on, but had to anyway so carried on walking. I had no real luck for 3 - 4 miles before I encountered a little pub (Lighthouse Inn) and exhausted I went in and asked if there was anywhere dry to pitch a tent and they had a small bit in their beer garden which they let me pitch in and I was incredibly grateful for this offer.
I do not know why my body was quite so tired late this afternoon, but it was, and I just had to try and remain positive to keep it going even if all I wanted to do was sit down. The benefit of the extra miles in the last two days now means I am only about 12 miles from Cardiff.
I am exhausted and hope I sleep well tonight, but at least tomorrow is short. A slightly negative diary but in reality a sunny day in which I made good mileage.