Today would be my last trip down to the south west for some time, as this was the final trip to ensure I have a continuous and unbroken clockwise link from Poole to Chester.
I opted to park close to the M48 bridge in Chepstow, from where I would catch the #X7 bus to Bristol. I opted for the £7.50 day rover which would cover me also for the bus out to Portishead on the # X2. It had taken about 1hr 40 minutes to get to my start point and I was itching to get walking, on what was a beautiful sunny morning.
Starting at the Windmill Inn I headed off towards Portishead Point. The familiar view out across the Severn Estuary was even better this morning, especially as the haze had disappeared. I headed east through East Wood along a lovely quiet road before emerging close to The Royal, a pub close to the old disused Portishead Pier.
This whole area has been developed with swanky looking apartments overlooking the large marina. I could see the Severn Crossing in the distance as well as the Portbury and Avonmouth Docks which I had to walk around. I made use of the lock gates in the marina to cross over the water.
At Portbury Wharf I had a nice wak on the levee for half- a mile, before I had to head south towards the small hamlet of thatched cottages at Sheepway. I picked up the National cycleway No. 26 at Sheepway which ran around the periphery of the huge car storage parks that I had seen many times from up high on the Avonmouth Bridge. The scale of the these car storage parks are truly amazing.
I passed Toyota, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Jeep and Fiat by their thousand. The cycle path soon joined and followed an old disused railway track. It was strange seeing the weeds growing up through the still intact tracks. Some sections of track had simply had hardcore dumped over the tracks and compacted down. The increasing noise had told me I was approaching the M5 and the Avonmouth Bridge. Having travelled over this bridge scores of times in a car, I was really looking foward to crossing over by foot. I was rewarded with some amazing views, that had been difficult to appreciate while driving.
The next 5 miles was simply a case of following the main roads though the Avonmouth Docks area towards the Seabank Power Station. Close to a newly built business park I was relieved to cross onto the Severn Way, which followed the railway most of the way to Severn Beach. The path was reasonably well trodden, but I appreciated being away from the incessant traffic that had accompanied me for the last 10 miles. The Severn way path crossed over the rail tracks and proceeded towards Severn Beach, where it followed a concrete sea wall all way to and underneath the M4 bridge.
The final stretch of path out towards the old Severn Crossing was along Northwick Wharf, a sort of salt marsh and grassy meadow that was very comfortable to walk along. I joined a small road which takes me to the small hamlet of Old Passage. The road begins to rise up to about 30m to enable the bridge to have a degree of elevation.
A service road to the Bridge Toll area also serves as a cycle way. The Bridge toll bays have a gantry, which enables walkers and cyclists to cross over the motorway and walk on either side of the bridge. There is also a service area on the NE side. I opt walk on the SW side, which offers great views downstream to the new Severn Crossing. My view back to Portishead is obscured by a series of short sharp squalls, which fortunately missed me! I was really looking forward to crossing the bridge and it did not disappoint.
The odd cyclist passes me, but even surprisingly even the traffic is quite light on the bridge. The bridge makes landfall on the spit of land called Beachley Point, although still still in Gloucestershire, the area below the bridge has a number of military functions, including a barracks, shooting range and sports facilities. The cycle way drops down from the motorway and joins up with the Wales Coast Path and the section I had previously walked. I managed the 19 miles in 5.25 hrs.
Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 1655 miles