Nigel Andrews, one of the most prolific walk leaders in Bristol Group, has written a book describing a new 85 mile long-distance footpath from Bristol to Brecon. The route includes a wonderful variety of scenery, including mountains, lovely valleys, historic towns and some lesser-known parts of South Wales. It passes through Chepstow, Usk and Abergavenny, crossing Sugar Loaf, Table Mountain and the Brecon Beacons.
To obtain your copy, please send a cheque for £5 (including postage and packing), payable to Nigel Andrews, to B2B book, 128 Hallen Road, Bristol BS10 7RB. Please allow 14 days for delivery.
The route starts from Blaise Castle and heads for the old Severn Bridge by way of Spaniorum Hill and Severn Beach. Once in Wales, the first day finishes at Chepstow Castle. The following day follows an intricate but scenically varied journey to Usk by way of Gray Hill and the Wentwood Forest. An easy start the next day follows the River Usk before heading west to one of the best walkersbs in Wales and the Blorenge ridge. A beautiful descent leads to Abergavenny and the end of the day.
The climb of Sugar Loaf is the highlight of day four but its attractions don't end there. The route also ascends Table Mountain before easier and delightful walking leads to the next overnight stop at Crickhowell. Next morning the most varied day of the walk stays attractively at low-level in the morning before the afternoon climb of Tor y Foel (hopefully) gives panoramic views of the Brecon Beacons. This classic group of mountains is traversed during the final day's walk from Talybont to Brecon, culminating in the ascent of Pen y Fan, the high point of the walk.
The walk would make a wonderful and inexpensive week's holiday. It can also be enjoyed as a series of day walks or by creating circular walks using sections of the Bristol to Brecon route.
The guide book is illustrated with photos showing highlights of the route, together with sketch-maps and information about some of the places visited. Learn about cricketing controversy and how Abergavenny is a lot more hospitable than it used to be!
Thank you to the many people who have bought a copy of "The Bristol to Brecon Walk". I hope that you all enjoy the walk and that you spread the word about this new long-distance footpath. I have been pleased to receive very positive feedback about the walk one person who walked the whole route thought it was better than the West Highland Way. Thanks to those of you who have sent postcards to mark your completion of the walk. Please spread the word about the path so we can encourage people to come to Bristol to do its very own long-distance path.
ROUTE CHANGES AND UPDATED INFORMATION 9 June 2016
EASTER COMPTON CHURCH
The field section from Easter Compton to the business park is now virtually unusable. I recently experienced difficulties following the original route and the condition of a couple of stiles is cause for concern. Part of the former farmland in this section is likely to be developed in the near future. In addition, those hoping for retail therapy in Easter Compton will be disappointed as the village shop has closed. I strongly recommend the following amendment to the route.
Please see page 20 paragraph 3. Do not enter the churchyard, other than to see it (recommended) or to visit Easter Compton, but instead turn left to keep the church on your right and follow the road. Shortly after it becomes a cycle path and it should be followed on its journey to cross the M49 on a bridge. It then swings right and heads towards a business park ahead. It deflects slightly left to keep business premises on its right before reaching a road. Take the path on the near side of this road to reach a roundabout and the resumption of the main route at 553835. The well-waymarked bridleway mentioned in paragraph 2 on page 21 is straight ahead and the original description should take you safely to Severn Beach.
The new route is not an aesthetic highlight of the walk but will quickly get you through an uninspiring section of the walk. There is so much to look forward to!
The firing range to the north of New Passage (page 23) has gone and the welcome replacement is the Pilning Wetlands, a partially flooded area which attracts migrant and wintering birds.
Also on page 23, paragraph 4, the footpath alternative to the Severn Way is now in poor condition with awkward stiles and navigational difficulties. I recommend that walkers follow the Severn Way signs to walk along the road. This climbs and swings right and should be followed until a turning on the left indicates the way on to the Severn Bridge.
ARRIVAL IN CHEPSTOW AFTER CROSSING SEVERN BRIDGE
Not long after the publication of this book part of the footpath alongside the Wye inconsiderately joined the river. This section is now unsafe and is no longer a right of way. I recommend the following changes from page 25 paragraphs 3 and 4. Life is now made much easier as our route follows that of the Wales Coast Path. It is very well signposted and the Path’s logo is even inset to the pavements.
From the top of the road from the tunnel under the M48 (Caerwent Lane) turn right to follow another road for about 150 yards. Look for the Wales Coast Path logos in the pavement. Take the first available turning on your right (Tenby Lane) and continue for a further 50 yards to the football ground. Turn left and walk behind the goalposts and continue on the obvious path ahead.
The next section of the walk is subject to a path closure so do not turn right at the stile as previously advised. A sign with the caption “what, no coast?” explains the situation. Page 25 paragraph 4 should be ignored.
Continue on the same well-made path as you followed from the football ground and you will soon enter attractive woodland. Continue to follow the good path which eventually descends to a point to the left of a railway bridge,. By the way, you can still pass under the bridge for a view of the river and perhaps a sighting of one of those Wye-registered cars! The signposting points you up the climb to a suburban road mentioned in paragraph 4. This path is now metalled and way up is obvious.
You may now resume the route as described in the book, aided by the excellent Coast Path signage.
There have been a number of changes to the route including the ascent of Gray Hill and a section of Westwood Forest. If possible, this day is best done outside the summer months as at this time there is a lot of overgrown vegetation. Some of the paths are infrequently used and the route is not always easy to follow or at its most attractive. I strongly recommend that you carry both Explorer OL14 and Explorer 152 to aid navigation.
Page 31 para 3
The village shop in Shirenewton has now closed. Please make sure that you carry adequate provisions for the walk from Chepstow to Usk.
Page 32 para 2
The cream house has been replaced by a large new house. The road after this point becomes a rough track.
Page 32 Para 3
The exit from the large field is blocked. Continue round the edge of the field until you reach a gate leading to the farm road. Turn right to ascend the lane and look out for the stile (the one formerly reached by a few paces to the right) on your left.
Page 32 Para 4
This field is now easier to navigate. The fence on your left has gone and has been replaced by a wind turbine which you keep on your left. Go straight across the field towards a gate in the far boundary. Do not cross the gate but instead turn left to follow the field boundary downhill for 200 yards to reach the gate which admits you to the woodland.
Page 32 Para 5
The original route is now blocked at the gate described on page 33 para 2. Do not go as far as Cribau Mill. From the bend in the road to the left continue just past a hump-back bridge and take the footpath on your left signposted for Gray Hill. Climb slightly to the left to reach a gap through which you enter a second and larger field. Head for a point roughly half along the top of the field visible from the gap. You will see a gate which admits you to a slanting path which continues the climb through woodland. At the stile at the top turn the right to keep the woodland on your right. A further stile is climbed and the left-hand boundary is followed to reach the stile just above the tree-girt hollow mentioned in para 3. You now continue up the right-hand boundary as described in para 4.
Page 35 Para 2
The original route is now difficult to follow. I suggest that you stay on the road past the point where four paths strike off from the road. Follow the road (or the woodland path to the left of it) for about half a mile until you see the Cadira Beeches car park on your right. Turn left on to the broad track opposite the car park and follow it south-westwards to meet a crossing road at Little Oak.
Page 35 Para 5
A considerable number of trees have been felled since the book’s publication and the path 40 yards past the transmitter (page 36 para 1) cannot now be traced in its early stages. Where the path splits 50 yards from the road you are advised to follow the gravel track on the right for about 100 yards where you will see the narrow straight path heading down through conifers as described at page 36 para 1.
Page 36 Para 4
This path is still blocked and the road alternative is strongly recommended.
DAY THREE UPDATE
Page 47 para 3
There are now doubts as to whether there is public access to the broad track leading from the major junction to the road. Signs on the gate at the end of this section suggest that there is not. I suggest that from the path-junction you continue straight ahead to continue the climb on a stony path to eventually reach a wall and access to the open hill. Follow the same direction to reach a crossing path on to which you turn right. Keep the woodland on your right and pass close to the spot heights of 425 and 404 shown on the map. You will reach the road just above the gate at the end of the old route. Turn left and follow the way described in the book.