Newport

An urban walk exploring history and modern culture

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Start and finish

Tredegar House to Newport Castle

Distance

5 miles / 8 kilometres.

Along the way

What a fabulous start to a walk this is.

Widely recognised as one of the architectural wonders of Wales, Tredegar House is one of the most important seventeenth century houses in Britain. Originally built of stone, it was substantially rebuilt between 1664 and 1672 in red brick, at that time a rare and expensive building material. Set in 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this historic house provides a fascinating start our day.

A great family

One of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, lived on the site from 1402 and claimed descent from the Welsh Princes. They survived many ups and downs through the centuries but the end came in the twentieth century with the wild and eccentric Evan Morgan.

Famous for his attempts at black magic and extravagant parties, he died in 1949 leaving a legacy of scandalous stories and a financial burden that meant Tredegar House had to be sold.

From here it’s less than a mile to reach the Wales Coast Path by heading down Tredegar House Drive then turning left along Duffryn Way for about 600 metres. At the end of the road, cross over Lighthouse Road and go left. Just before the houses take a right to join the Wales Coast Path.

The route continues past housing, shops and industrial areas and there are plenty of places to get a bite to eat along the way.

A peculiar river crossing

Less than two miles later we reach the iconic Newport Transporter Bridge, a remarkable structure which has dominated the Newport skyline since it first opened in 1906.

Due to the huge tidal range of the Usk, building a bridge which kept the channel navigable or operating a regular ferry at this point was problematic. So instead, an “aerial ferry” was built.

It is one of only six such bridges remaining in the world from a total of only twenty ever constructed. Please note that the site is currently closed for restoration and to build a new visitor centre. However, an events programme is ongoing so it’s worth checking online and on social media for the latest information. Check online and on social media for Newport Transporter Bridge events programme.

Up the Usk estuary

We now head on up the west bank of the Usk estuary, following the main route for the Wales Coast Path as far as the steel arch of City Bridge – the first cable-stayed highway bridge in the UK. Here the Wales Coast Path crosses the Usk, but we continue upstream.

At around 75 miles long the Usk is one of the longest rivers in Wales, rising in the mountains of mid-Wales before eventually reaching this point where it has the largest tidal range of any city centre river in the world. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with mudflats, salt marsh, lagoons, bogs, varied grassland and woodland habitats which support a wide range of wildlife.

Shortly we pass a footbridge that links the east bank of the Usk to new developments on the west. The bridge has won a design award and was opened 100 years to the day after the Transporter Bridge.

Some contemporary diversions

After half an hour or so (just after passing the university building take the crossing to Friars Walk, a shopping, dining and leisure complex, we have the option to take a short diversion to Newport Museum and Art Gallery which tells the story of Newport from prehistoric times to the twentieth century. It has some fascinating displays covering social and natural history, archaeology and art.

Heading back to the estuary and a little further upstream we come across the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, a home to theatrical and cinematic experiences, with an art gallery hosting a wide range of exhibitions from professional and emerging artists, sculptors, community groups, and schools working in many different mediums.

We also pass Newport’s award-winning 40-feet-tall sculpture, the Steel Wave. Created by Peter Fink in 1991 it symbolises the steel and sea trades which were so important in Newport’s development.

Finish at the castle

Shortly, we reach the end of our walk at Newport Castle.
Although now engulfed by the city, it’s still possible to get a sense of the castle’s scale by crossing the bridge to view it from the east bank of the Usk. From here its central tower, flanked by two further towers, give an indication of how imposing it would once have been.

Built in the fourteenth century it was originally surrounded by a deep moat, which was filled at high tide – a vital benefit of its location.In 1405, the castle had to be heavily repaired following an attack by Owain Glyndwr. It was substantially renovated in the early fifteenth century before falling into disrepair a century or so later.

By the nineteenth century it was home to a tannery and then a brewery before being placed in the care of the Ministry of Works in the 1930s.
A rare feature of the castle is its water gate which could be accessed by boat at high tide. This is one of only two remaining in the country, the other being at the Tower of London. From here it’s a short walk back to the car park or the railway station.

Walk highlights

Tricia Cottnam, Wales Coast Path officer, said: “Although this is a fairly short urban walk it packs in plenty of interest. In five miles we get to explore one of Britain’s finest seventeenth century houses, check-out an iconic and curious river crossing, visit some contemporary cultural attractions and finish at the remains of a fourteenth century castle.”

Need to know

If arriving in Newport by train, it’s a short walk from the railway station to Newport Bus Station - there are frequent buses from here to take you to the start of the route at Tredegar House.

If arriving by car, park in one of Newport’s public car parks near the bus station. The closest is the NCP on North Road.

There are numerous options for refreshments along, or just off this route, including the Brewhouse Café at Tredegar House and the Riverfront Café at the Riverside Theatre and Arts Centre. Public toilets are available in the same places. 

Map

Download the Newport map (JPEG, 4.41MB)