The Trail description
(Updated April 2012)
Description from bus stop to car park (0.4miles; 0.65 kms)
Leave the bus at the end of Black Rock Road. Follow the road signed “Black Rock Picnic and Lave Net Fishery Site.” Pass Sunny Bank road on your right and continue along the road out of the built up area to eventually reach the entrance to the car park to Black Rock Picnic Site on your right. Enter the car park.
Description from car park to Undy (6 miles; 9.5 kms)
From the car park head straight towards the River Severn and view the information boards that tell you about the history and natural history of the area.
Afterwards turn to your right and follow a path through the picnic site. Ignore the steps down to your left after 75 metres. On leaving the site bear left and follow the path. You will soon join a wide path. Continue on into Sudbrook village. When the track becomes a road carry straight on to reach the site of the old shipyard and Tunnel workshops on your left and the electricity station on your right.
The history of Sudbrook is linked to the building of the Severn Railway Tunnel and we shall talk more about this as we continue through the village.
Shipbuilding recommenced in Sudbrook after the Severn Railway Tunnel was completed. Thomas Walker, the engineer for the tunnel, opened up the shipyard in the disused workshops. 104 small ships were built before the yard closed in 1922.
Carry on into the village passing terraced housing on both sides of the road. These were built quickly to house the workers building the Severn Tunnel. There was no pub in the village, only a coffee shop.
Continue to reach the 4-story brick pump house on your left. The 4 mile long Severn Railway Tunnel was started in 1872 and was finished and opened in December 1886. During construction there were problems of flooding from springs and so the pump house was built to take away the water. Between 7 million and 21 million gallons of water were pumped every day. Some of the water is now being used at Magor Brewery.
After the pump house, turn left through the old crossing gate. Turn left again to pass the Sudbrook Non-political Club on your left, and carry on to pass through the narrow passage ahead to emerge by the ruins of Trinity Chapel on your right. The chapel was built about 700 years ago and was used for services until the 18th Century. The last man to be buried there was sea captain Bleddyn Smith. He wanted to be buried as near to the south east wall as possible so that after years of erosion of the shoreline he would eventually be buried at sea.
Continue along the river frontage to reach the embankments of Sudbrook Camp. The camp was built and occupied by the local Celts called the Siluries between the mid 2nd Century BC and the mid 2nd Century AD. It controlled trade and defence and would have been on the mouth of the Nedern River until it was moved in more recent times. The Siluries were formidable fighters and it took the Romans 25 years to defeat them. Roman remains have been found at the camp and it may well have been used as a supply depot to their main base at Caerwent.
Continue out the other end of the camp with the river on your left to reach a surfaced path. Go through a metal kissing gate and continue with the old paper mills on your right and the motorway bridge on your left.
Go through another steel gate and carry on following the path under the bridge. Go through two small wooden gates. At the end of the concrete path bear left onto the sea wall and go through a metal kissing gate. The original sea wall was constructed by the Romans, stretching 20 miles from Sudbrook to Rumney, near Cardiff. The land may well have been reclaimed for growing wheat. Further work was carried out on the wall by Henry III, Dutchmen in the 17th Century and in 1974.
Continue on until you see the Wales Coast Path leave the sea wall and head inland. You continue onwards through another kissing gate and a further kissing gate just before a pill box at the first firing range. (If there is a red flag flying wait for permission to continue.)
Alternative route to avoid firing ranges: In the unlikely chance you encounter a problem with continuing through the range retrace your steps through the first gate and look out for a wide track down to your left off the wall marked as the Wales Coast Path to a kissing gate next to a field gate. Follow the Coast path signs through fields, lanes and track to return to the sea wall at the dead end lane mentioned in the description below.
For the main route: Carry on through the range to pass the second pill box. Go through a kissing gate and continue along the sea wall to reach the second firing range.
Again, watch out for red flags over the firing range. If they are flying wait for permission to continue. If no flags are flying ignore Ministry "Keep out” notice. Go through a kissing gate and past military post (notice the bullet scars on the brick work). Keep to the sea wall and after the 4th pill box go through another kissing gate out of the firing ranges.
Continue along the sea wall. Pass an earth ramp that goes down to your right to a dead end lane after 600 metres. This is where the Wales Coast Path returns to the sea wall. Carry on to another ramp just before a kissing gate in a fence line on the sea wall.
Leave the Wales Coast Path and go down the ramp away from the sea, to a field opening over a ditch. Continue straight on to soon follow the field hedge on your right. Carry on to reach a gate on your right at the far end. Turn to your left and cross the field, looking for a stile by a gate in the corner. Go over and cross a ditch and through a “step through” stile. Turn right and follow the field edge with the ditch on your right. Go through another “step through stile next to a gate and continue with the ditch on your right.
On reaching a metal gate ahead of you, do not go through, instead turn to your left and follow the strip of land with ditches to your left and right. Ignore a bridge to your left and carry on to reach a small wooden gate. Go through and bear diagonally right across the next field towards a large tree. Continue past the tree to follow a wide grassy track with ditches on both sides.
On reaching a small wooden gate next to a metal field gate, go through into a small field. Continue straight on and look for a kissing gate on your right before a metal gate near a cottage. Go through and turn left along a tarmac track. Go onto a lane, via a small metal gate. Continue straight on with the farm buildings on your left. Where the conifer hedge ends, look for a small bridge and stile on your left into a field.
Go over and bear diagonally right across aiming for a stile under the power lines in front of a farmhouse. Pass the remains of a pond/earth works in the middle of the field. Go over a stile onto a lane, turn left and continue until you reach a junction.
To reach the main road and the bus stop: bear right and follow the lane over the railway line. Where the lane joins the main road turn right. There are bus stops on both sides of the road. (Church Road bus stop.)
To reach the church and the car park: bear left and continue for 200 metres to reach St Mary’s church and car park on your left. The church was founded by a man called Gwyndaf Hen and his wife in the 6th Century. The name Undy may be a corruption of his name.