Newport to Pontypool loop (28 miles)

This is one of my favourite local rides and quite honestly, I can’t do it justice by writing about it. Ninety percent of this ride is off road, with the remainder just short distances on road. The gallery gives it more support as a great ride.

We always start this ride at the City Footridge crossing the River Usk in the City of Newport, South Wales. Opened in 2006, the bridge cost £5 million and though it’s won many awards (whoopee do), it’s only 200m from the old town bridge- What a complete waste of money. The ride takes you along Newport’s waterfront (the water is muddy brown, not blue as in some of the promotional images), passed the new art college, the waterfront theatre then passed the wave (this monstrosity cost of £33,000 in 1990, if it’s one thing Newport Council are expert at; it’s wasting money, anyway I digress). Under the old green interchange, where there used to be a mural of the chartist riots. I don't know why it was demolished, but it was impressive. We pop out for a second and Newport castle appears on the right

Go this way and not right We were following the National cycle route 88, which now takes you over a footbridge (and turns right) and behind ‘the old Sainsbury’ supermarket towards Shaftsbury park. This part of the route is riddled with tree roots and is almost unviable. Ignore the route signs and once over the footbridge follow the side of the main road past the ‘vanilla spice’ Indian restaurant and straight on past ‘McDonald’s’, route 88 pops out here. You're not missing anything (except the muddy river) and you're only off route for less than half a mile.

Newport to Caerleon cycle route There’s a new cycle route from Newport to Caerleon, it follows the river Usk all the way to Caerleon. If you’ve the time Caerleon has a massive Roman history, with a superb amphitheatre, Roman bath house and museum, we kind of take it for granted because we live near it. Continue through Caerleon and left onto the B4236 (towards Ponthir). Newport to Caerleon cycle route Then left up Malthouse road, this has a fairly steep hill then right onto concrete road (through a small farm) and passed Llantarnam Abbey home of the Sisters of St Joseph. It comes out on Newport road opposite 'Burtons biscuits' (birthplace of the ‘Wagon Wheel’ chocolate biscuit), with Llantarnam abbey north lodge on the left.

Turn right and then left at the roundabout along Llanfrechfa way and left again into Llanyravon boating lake. This will pop you back out onto Llanfrechfa way. Over the bridge and turn right to a little road called Grange road, some way up on the left is a path to cross the road to Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre. Here we had a nice cup of coffee.

From here go left past the bowlplex bowling, then left at the roundabout onto Caradoc road then onto Maendy road and right onto a tiny footpath (careful not to miss it!) which takes you onto a cycle path that runs alongside Cwmbran drive (A4051). route 46 Continue on this path through a roundabout, it will then take you onto an old railway path (route 46) built by the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company. While looking at a new sign, a Gent approached us and we began talking about the railway, he told us the place we are at present was Pontrhydyrun Halt (though there was nothing left of it).

We continued on and passed a goods shed near the Panteg and Griffithstown station (still there but in a sorry state). We understand these buildings are due to be demolished soon to make way for a housing estate, though there is a campaign to have them listed. There’s a few more miles left of the railway track before it disappears onto a road. We turn right here onto Rockhill road and under the A472.

Right again to Pontymoile Basin on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, from here it’s down hill all the way to Newport on Route 49. There’s café in an old barge at Pontymoile Basin. Just over an old bridge and there’s a toll house (now private). Just after the Forge Hammer locks, someone had the bright idea to build a main road on the canal bed, the cycle track follows the road until it rejoins the canal. From here it’s lock after lock until you reach Newport.

  • Gallery

    gallery page Why not have a look at the gallery relating to this ride. Click the image or the title.

  • Chartist riot mural

    Chartist riot mural On 4 November 1839, somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 Chartist sympathisers, led by John Frost, marched on the town of Newport, Monmouthshire.

  • Newport castle

    Newport castle The first castle was started in 1100 and both it and its successor were destroyed by the Welsh. Built with the purpose of managing the crossing of the River Usk. The castle had many dwellers including a garrison.

  • Roman Caerleon

    Roman Caerleon The Second Legion Augusta occupied the legionary fortress at Caerleon. It was named after the Emperor Augustus who raised it. The remains on view at Caerleon provide the visitor with a vivid picture of life in second-century Roman Britain.

  • Llantarnam abbey

    Llantarnam abbey was a Cistercian house founded in 1179 as a daughter house of Strata Florida. The remains of that abbey are incorporated into the present buildings housing the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The fine barn is one of the finest medieval remnants.

  • Llantarnam Grange

    Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre occupies a 19th Century Victorian manor house; it is the regional centre for the applied arts in South East Wales.

  • Panteg and Griffithstown station

    Panteg and Griffithstown station building is a fairly unremarkable South Wales GWR survivor but it will probably now be bulldozed for new housing. Memorably, Griffithstown was the place where GWR enginemen founded ASLEF.

  • Canal destruction

    Cwmbran drive over the canal Though the heritage trust has allocated over a million pounds to restore five locks in Cwmbran, in my opinion it’s pointless as the A4051 (Cwmbran drive) was partially built over the top of the canal in the 1980's, it's the only place on the canal that is un-navigable from Brecon to Newport. Shame on you planners for allowing it to happen.

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