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5. Cil-y-Coed – Cas-gwent; Caldicot – Chepstow

5. Cil-y-Coed – Cas-gwent; Caldicot – Chepstow

Step Count: 24,462

Distance: 9.15 miles

Max Altitude: 61 m

Min Altitude: 1 m

Height Gain: 187 m

Height Loss: 182 m


It was another late start on the Wales Coast Path. I’ve never been much of a morning person and there’s something just nicer about walking in the evenings.

I returned to pick up the trail where I’d left off at Caldicot Railway Station. From there the path went straight to the side of the estuary. Unlike yesterday, it was a bright sunny day with blue skies, so I was able to walk towards the Second Severn Crossing and appreciate it in all its glory. The WCP takes you directly underneath it and for the first time I walked beneath it.


The WCP then passes through the village of Sudbrook before rejoining the side of the estuary. You are able to stand between the original Severn Bridge and Second Severn Crossing.


This was the last time that I saw the coast closely though, since the path veered inland through ploughed fields and meadows.


Shortly after the above silhouette self portrait was taken, I walked onto the fairway at St Pierre. I didn’t have a set of clubs, a pair of plus fours or lots of money in the bank, so was understandably stared at by nearby golfers.

It was just after this that the WCP waymarks went missing and I had to guess my way along. From a farmer’s field, I crossed a footbridge over the M48 only to land in a rather perturbed field of sheep. It couldn’t possibly have been the official route but I had no way of telling what was, so on I went. I ended up having to push my way through thick hedges and brambles before climbing over a barbed wire fence, and sliding down a slope. I was on the edge of the M48 now and this sign cheered me:



Thankfully, the WCP waymarks reappeared and led me through a Chepstow housing estate where I bought a doughnut from a local shop (bliss!), before continuing into a forest on the edge of the Wye.

By this time it was getting dark, and had I been walking in a more isolated area, I would have quit walking by then. But I knew that the end of the Wales Coast Path was in reach, and so on I went. I badly wanted to arrive at this important milestone in my journey before the day was out.

Into Chepstow I went, following the waymarks through the town, and I was led to the side of the Wye once more, to a space near the Old Wye Bridge  The light had almost failed.



I had reached the end of the Wales Coast Path and was delighted!


As you can see, darkness was upon me. So I shall be returning to the area tomorrow for a closer look and better photos.


Gear – The Rucksack

Gear – The Rucksack

My biggest consideration when I started to put the kit list together for this trek was undoubtedly the rucksack. Never before have I undertaken an expedition such as this, where I’d be trekking long distances daily for weeks on end; and also travelling alone, I might add. Previously, I’ve only mountaineered or hiked, at high altitude and in groups, meaning I’ve only ever had to carry a light pack. So Walking Wales is an entirely different beast.

A good quality rucksack is designed to distribute weight evenly, and also in the right places. A decent pack will minimise stress on the back and shoulders.

Being a small woman meant that my choice of appropriate rucksack was cut right down. Yes, there were plenty of female-specific packs about, but were there ones catering for us shorties too? Not really, no. My choice, after looking through scores of reviews by short female backpackers, eventually came down to two 65L packs, both by Osprey: the Aura AG 65 or the Ariel 65.

After reading up on the pros and cons of both, my heart was set on the Ariel – it had top and front access, a hydration chamber which loaded at the rear (thus avoiding my pet hate of having to stuff a bladder in through the main section of the pack), and was basically perfect and the pack for me. Going to fetch it from the shop was merely a formality.

But when I got to Cotswold Outdoor I thought I’d give them both a try.


So the assistant kindly measured me and fitted the Ariel pack specifically to my size (he diplomatically remarked that I was the most petite person he’d fitted). Then he started loading weight into it. 5…10….15….20…25 kilos went into the rucksack. And yes it felt a bit uncomfortable. It just didn’t sit right somehow. So out came the weights and off went the pack.

We then did exactly the same with the Aura AG 65, and oh my! Putting the Aura on was like getting a warm hug and gliding over a cloud at the same time. The weight inside it – half my own body weight – felt like nothing! Suddenly I could see why AG stood for “anti gravity”. All thoughts of getting the Ariel went out of the window immediately and I was sold on the Aura. To hell with carrying a bladder anyway, I’d carry a water bottle instead.

The Aura and I have a few long hikes under our belt already, and I have christened him Buddy because of the very friendly hip hugs he gives me. I can’t wait to hit the trail on June 1st with him on my back.

When Walking Wales is finished, I’ll write a review of how the pack held up after more than a 1000 miles worth of use.

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