Quiet Womans Row


  Newport is not a jewel in the crown in any tourism guide, being built on its docks and heavy industry. It is however one of the most under rated centres for tourism on the English / Welsh border. Point yourself in any direction and within minutes you can be in some of the most magnificent scenery in the British Isles The beautiful Wye Valley and the Welsh Marches, the Severn estuary and closest of all, the county of Monmouthshire. Once described as the most westerly port in England, Newport's history is at last slowly being unravelled. The Newport Medieval Ship, discovered in recent years and hopefully to eventually be on public display, is an iconic link to an age of ancient docks and ship repairing along the banks of the River Usk. A whole new aspect to Newport's Heritage has been unfolded thanks to the discovery of this unique vessel.
Meanwhile, I recently discovered how pleasant and informative a spring time trip along the Welsh borders, minus the lush trappings of high summer, can be . The traveller is afforded stunning views of a landscape normally obscured by foliage. Winter days out do have their advantages.
Our journey begins in the heart of Pillgwenlly, at the very point where the Brecon and Monmouthshire railway crossed the main road en route to Newport Dock Street Station. Memories of cattle driven along the streets directly from the cattle pens to the market, recently closed for new development. This was the first major station in Newport, and as we travel towards Malpas and Pontypool we are mostly on the track bed of what was once a route to the north, though finally reduced to siding status in the early 1960s.
Tower cranes and a strange looking footbridge take us through the centre, past the remains of the castle. It was here on the site of the new Arts centre (right of picture) that the Newport ship was discovered. Some of it is still there, buried under tons of concrete, for posterity - or fire wood, depending on the mood of the meeting.
Leaving Newport, heading for Pontypool, one sees the outskirts of distant Caerleon, Roman fortress and a good day out in its own right. (See links page for tours of Caerleon)
  As you will see, the omnipresent Welsh mountains are never far away. Twmbarlwm , which roughly translated means scabby pimple made of rock fragments, on a grey blue ridge covered in heather, is always in view until reaching the outskirts of Pontypool.
  The journey thus far is moderately interesting, the highlight being a possible glimpse of the chemical recycling plant in the valley to the left, and trip to the local crematorium on the opposite side to the right.
Thinking about it, looking at one long enough will probably send you to the other anyway!
With the last vestige of industrialism behind you, the journey becomes a most pleasant experience. Rolling hills and distant mountains, half timbered houses , ancient pubs and Inns and frequent views of the River Usk.
Abergavenny , which is by passed, should be visited , but not today as the destination is Ludlow.
Ludlow offers a feast of architectural glory probably dating from the14th century, and much more. Today the ancient town hosts a food festival which attracts lovers of great cuisine from all parts of the world. We arrived at lunchtime when the street market seemed to be in full swing. The traders sign advertising "venison" put the stamp of approval on the whole day. A general feeling of 'Community' spoke volumes about The busy and clean town centre.
Those coming to Newport for the forthcoming Ryder Cup tournament would do well to take time to have what I considered to be a perfect day out, with just enough travelling (one hour, 20 minutes) to allow the optimum time for a good sniff around the best of Britain.

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