|Aust to Pill >|
|Distance : 11 miles||Grading : +||OS Sheet : 154 & OL14|
This walk takes in the first part of the Wales Coast Path and crosses from England on the spectacular Severn Bridge. River crossings dominate the rest of the walk as the path goes around the edge of some light industry and then back to the banks of the Severn to pass the more recent Second Severn Crossing. The walk then follows the banks of the river beside marshland to end at Severn Tunnel Junction station where the rail line emerges from the Severn tunnel, the third of the crossings.
The walk begins from the M48 Servern View services at Aust on the M48 motorway. From the M4 motorway exit at junction 21 from the English side or junction 23 on the Welsh side. The Severn View services are at junction 1 of the M48, the first junction from the M4 from the English side and just after the Severn Bridge if coming from the Welsh side. Note that if you are coming from the Welsh side you will need to pay the toll on the return journey. You may instead prefer to park in Chepstow and take the bus as this avoids the toll. There is a car park at the services although charges apply after two hours, so you will need to pay to park here.
If you are coming by public transport First Bristol, Bath and West service X7 (Severn Express) runs hourly Monday – Saturday between Bristol and Chepstow with most buses continuing on to Newport. The bus also runs 4 times a day on Sundays, between Bristol and Chepstow only. The bus operates as an express route and so only serves limited stops. It begins from Bristol Bus Station and runs to the The Mall at Cribbs Causeway shopping centre and from there via the Motorway to the Severn View services. Although not listed as a stop in the timetable, the bus will stop here by request, although it will stop on the roundabout, not at the services car park. Take care when negotiating the roundabout to get to the services, as it is not terribly pedestrian friendly. Aust is within the Bristol Outer Zone fare area.
There is limited accommodation on this walk. There is a Travelodge at the Aust Services at the start of the walk. Otherwise there is a plentiful choice of accommodation in the nearby cities of Bristol and Newport and also a range of choices in Chepstow.
The Severn bridge was the first fixed crossing of the river and originally carried the M4 motorway until the Second Severn bridge was opened in 1996. It replaced an earlier ferry which used to run from Aust. When the Second Severn crossing opened this road became the M48 instead. The motorway is now comparatively quite, as it is used mainly for traffic to Chepstow and the Severn valley rather than through traffic on the M4. The services in particular are now very quiet. From the services head along the access road from the roundabout to the services and look out for the Severn Way signpost on the left. This footpath brings you down to the edge of the bridge.
The walk now crosses the Severn bridge. There are footpath and cycle paths on both sides of the bridge. This means you usually have a choice of which side you cross (West or East) assuming both paths are open. I used the western route. If you choose this side take the path that crosses over the roof of the toll booths and then once over turn right soon heading onto the bridge. Note that the toll does not apply for pedestrians. Don't be surprised for the wind to hit you as you move out onto the bridge itself and stop having land on either side. Once on the bridge you have lovely views over the river to the south as it leads out to sea and the red cliffs on the south side of the bridge.
You can also see the newer second Severn crossing that now carries the bulk of the traffic. Inland there are fine views of the Severn estuary, the town of Chepstow and the Wye valley beyond. You can also see a pier to the left which I believe is used to maintain the high power lines that also cross the Severn here - they have to be high to allow the large ships that still use the Severn to pass underneath. Beyond this jetty on the left you might be able to make out the old and now rotting jetty for the old Severn ferry that used to run before this bridge opened. Soon you have land beneath you again, but oddly there is no access from the bridge. This spit of land has the village of Beachy on it and further north Sedbury and Tutshill. Many people make the mistake of assuming they are now in Wales. You are not, as this is still part of Gloucestershire and the River Wye is in fact the border between England and Wales here.
Below is a recreation ground and army barracks. You continue on the high bridge over this piece of land and then cross the second river, the River Wye, this time crossing from England to Wales. Soon the bridge is passing over the railway line that runs along the western banks of the Severn and Wye rivers. After the railway line the path and bridge descend and you have a footpath off the bridge. As you do so there is a tunnel to the right under the motorway. Do not take this but instead keep on the path ahead, now a tree lined tarmac path, with the motorway to your right. This soon emerges from the woodland and continues as a tarmac path over a grassy area with an industrial estate to your right. Form here there are excellent Wales Coast Path markers the whole way. As you near the last unit on the left the path turns right, crossing the access road to the industrial estate and then follows an enclosed tarmac path around a large unit on the left, which is a fairly recent addition. You round the north edge of this and then follow the path over the fields. The path is well signed with the gates to access between the fields.
As you near the farm you reach the track leading to the farm. Do not be tempted to follow this, the path turns to the right here, look for the stile in the fence, rather than heading for the farm. The path may not be obvious, as this does not seem to be an especially well walked part of the path. Cross into the next field and follow the path more or less parallel with the field edge on your left. This emerges at a road junction in the small village of Innage. Go straight on here and as you reach the village green ahead the road splits. Take the right fork, passing the village green on the left and the church and church yard just beyond it.
Follow this track as it emerges into a field past a run down building on the left (owned by the water company I seem to recall). Once past this turn left and head SSW more or less parallel to the field edge on your left. The house of Moynes Court is to your right. Keep straight ahead into the next field, ignoring another path to the right and head towards the footbridge over a stream. Here you are on the edge of a golf course, so take care to watch for golfers playing. The path here is poorly signed but look more or less straight ahead and you should soon make out the wooden poll you need to head for. Cross another footbridge and keep south on the tree lined path pass a man made lake on the right, with raised grass banks around it. Go straight on over another stream and now follow the path straight ahead more or less due south, along the right hand edge of a field, heading for the power lines. Cross into the next field and turn slightly to the left to head exactly due south and pass under the power lines. Ahead you reach the railway line and must cross this via the metal gates on either side. Take care to check for trains in both directions before stepping onto the tracks.
Once over head for the river side wall you can see ahead. On reaching this wall climb to the top of it. You are now back beside the Severn and turn right with the river to your left. The directions now are simple, just keep to this river bank path and enjoy the wonderful views of the river. Over the banks you can see the docks at Portbury near Bristol and Aust as well as the two bridges. You soon pass the small creek of Passage Wharf Pill. Here there is a bit of concrete and I believe this is where the ferries that used to cross the Severn here once docked.
Continue south along the raised bank. Soon you have cliffs ahead and there are two routes. The low tide route goes along the edge of the foreshore, passing close to a house on the right and below the red cliffs. There is a high tide route if the tide is in making the low tide route impassable.
Pass the jetty by the house and you are then in a park, and there are numerous benches near to the path. Keep to the tarmac path through this area. This soon joins a track which you join and continue in more or less the same direction until it becomes a road on the edge of the village of Sudbrook.. The road passes some light industry and then suddenly becomes a residential road. Keep along the road to a large warehouse at the end. This is quite an old building and was once connected to the railway, as can be seen from some of the architecture.
Pass this on the left as the road curves round to the left and soon you see the old level crossing and what I presume was the railway station, although the tracks have now been lifted, and are now a narrow strip of green down the middle of the road. Just past this large warehouse turn left to cross what would have been the railway tracks and head along Camp Road. This passes more houses and soon comes to a path back beside the Severn. This is Sudbrook Point and there are the earth works from an old fort here.
Keep to the path beside the river as it then becomes a surfaced path again beside industry to your right. The industry soon ends and you then have woodland to your right. Ahead you can see where the second Severn bridge finally makes landfall. The design is quite usual here in that on the English side the bridge heads fairly straight to the Severn but then curves to the left, so that it runs almost parallel to the banks of the river before it finally reaches dry land. The path soon widens and comes to the motorway. Here you turn left and take the gloomy underpass under the motorway and back to the riverside. The path now runs right along the river again, but with the noise of the M4 motorway on your right.
Follow this path for around half a mile until you can see a footbridge to the right which crosses the motorway and a sign post pointing you this way. Here in fact you have a choice. There is a footpath right along the banks of the Severn here. Although there are signs discouraging you from using it because of a firing range and the impact on wildlife. There is an active firing range ahead and if this is in use you cannot use the path. However if it is not, then you are able to continue alongside the estuary. If you cannot see the red flags or hear gun shots you are probably safe to continue. You will know when you reach the firing range because there is a hut and a post next to it. If the red flag is flying at this hut, do not proceed. However if it is not, continue on the path straight ahead along the raised bank beside the firing range, although it is more overgrown now. There are a couple of stiles to cross. Pass through the firing range and cross another stream, West Pill Reen. Continue on the path to pass the concrete OS trig point and to your right the official Wales coast path re-joins the river side.
If following the coastal route, you need to turn right here and join the official route of the Wales coast path inland to head for Severn Tunnel Junction station. Follow this initially tree-lined track, that soon opens out to a track between fields. This track comes to a T-junction where you turn right Follow this past a couple of fields on the left and when there is a wide track to the left take it. This soon crosses the M4 motorway.
Once over you will see the Wales Coast path is signed to the right. Ignore this, and continue straight ahead to reach Severn Tunnel Junction railway station on the right, where the walk ends. If the firing range was in use or you decided not to keep to the river, turn right when signed to cross the M4 motorway on the bridge. Once over the bridge keep straight ahead passing the sewage works on the left and passing just to the right of a pylon. Soon you join a private road, which crosses the railway line ahead. Turn left before the railway line (do not cross it) and then follow this parallel to the railway. Ignore the turning to the left into the sewage works. As this track comes to a junction you can again turn right and cross the two railway lines to reach Caldicot Station. However it is recommended instead to turn left here and keep to the track. Soon you come to another junction with a track to the left to the firing range. Keep straight ahead here on the now tree-lined path which soon heads south and then runs parallel to the M4 motorway to your left. The path turn turns to the right and comes to a road. Turn right along the road to soon reach Severn Tunnel Junction station on your right.
The walk ends at Severn Tunnel Junction which has trains west to Newport and east to Chepstow and Bristol. If you are returning to Aust it is recommended to take a train from Severn Tunnel Junction to Bristol Temple Meads. From Bristol Temple Meads, bus 8 will take you to the city centre from where bus X7 will take you back to Aust. Be sure to tell the driver you wish to alight at Aust – the bus stop is on the roundabout for the Severn View Services. For details see the link below.
Here are some photos taken on this walk. Click each photo for a larger version and description.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 154 (Bristol West & Portishead) and Explorer OL14 (Wye Valley & Forest of Dean) cover this part of the coast, although only a small part is on map OL14. These maps are available from local book shops, tourist information centres and online retailers. In addition the links below show the map of this area.