CYCLING PROGRAMME 2017

October 10th
The next ride will start outside the U3A at 10.30am on the 10th weather permitting. It will follow the cycle route down the west bank of the river to the lock of the Old Town Dock. Then return along the east bank of the river with a refreshment break at the café near the new footbridge. There will be other stops at places of interest on the way. It's about 6 miles and should take about 1.5 hours.
Please advise John Dainton if you are intending to join the ride: dainton.john@yahoo.co.uk or tel. 01633 212349
 

August 8th
Newport to Caerleon, starting at 10.30 am at the Glebelands Car Park at the end of Bank Street off Caerleon Road, Newport (NP19 7HF) and cycling down the east bank of the River to Clarence Place. Then across the Town Bridge and up the west bank of the River to Caerleon, following National Cycle Route 47. Refreshment break at Caerleon then return on the same route. It's about 12 miles and should take 2 - 3 hours.

Martin Shepherd will lead the ride. If you are intending to go, or have any questions contact him at mwshepherd@virginmedia.com.
 

July 25th
We continued our exploration of the quiet backroads of the Gwent Levels for our July ride, this time starting at the seawall at Goldcliff and following National Cycle Route 4 to Redwick. The weather was ideal for cycling with blue skies and a light breeze. There were a lot of bikes out and about, probably outnumbering cars.

The first lap was a long straight stretch along Clifton Common and Whitson Common. We passed Whitson Court, a splendidly restored Georgian mansion. It's probably best remembered now for housing a private zoo in its grounds in the 1960s and 70s. As we cycled on there were signs of haymaking in many of the fields. Passing one we saw a buzzard, perched on a large bale, no doubt prospecting for its next meal. Redwick is a small well kept village. We stopped outside the church of St Thomas. It has a 1606 flood marker on the wall outside. The interior was quaint and cool which was welcome after the long ride. Just outside the well maintained churchyard is an interesting small building, built I believe as a bus shelter by a local man Hubert Jones. It incorporates many artefacts in its structure that he collected from old farm buildings in the area and is well worth a look.

We then followed a footpath across the fields and down to the sea. The tide was going out, exposing ledges of peat amongst the glistening mud. Traces of an ancient building surrounded by hoof marks have been found preserved in the peat in recent years. It has been dated to the Bronze Age about 1500 BC and is thought to have been used by seasonal cattle herders. The sea level would have been much lower then and what is now the intertidal area was a salt marsh, which has decomposed to form the peat ledges. On our return through the fields, the cattle which had been lying in corners, were now up and about and followed us inquisitively back to the farm gate, probably in expectation of lunch.

Our outing ended back in Goldcliff with tea and cake at the Seawall Tea Rooms. A good end to an enjoyable ride.
 

June 27th
Our June ride was along the canal towpath from 14 Locks towards Cwmcarn. It was a ride of just over 10 miles and the bridges were all negotiated without incident. Water lillies were in flower on the canal and this year's hatching of moorhen chicks were dabbling on the pads.

There were a couple of stops at places of interest. From high on the hillside there were many panoramic views across the Ebbw Valley to the hills beyond. At one point we looked down on what is now a recreation ground but which had once been the site of one of the wonders of the South Wales valleys. The Long Bridge, a 32 arch stone viaduct built by the Monmouthshire Canal Company in 1805 crossed the valley floor, taking the horse drawn tram road from Tredegar, on to Newport. However when the age of steam came, a stronger embankment was required for the locomotives and the Long Bridge fell into disuse by the 1850s. All that remains now is the abutment wall alongside the road between Risca and Crosskeys and some nearby terrace housing built from the stones. Photos, paintings and a model of the Bridge form part of the interesting collection of artefacts in Risca's Industrial History Museum at Oxford House.

The second stop was at the Greenmeadow Canal Bridge, where the bikes were parked and the Group walked across a field to take a look at a remote burial ground for some of the victims of a large underground explosion. The Black Vein colliery on the opposite side of the valley was on a thick seam of coal which extends under the valley and eastwards towards Crumlin. It had however a reputation as a dangerous mine due to the presence of firedamp. On December 1st 1860 there was an explosion in which over 140 miners were known to have been killed. About 50 were buried on this small plot of land. There is a large commemorative stone but the passage of time has largely obliterated the inscriptions on the few individual gravestones. It is however a peaceful spot where one can reflect on the hard times these men lived through.

The canal towpath is closed for repairs a short distance from Cwmcarn where it ends. The Group returned to 14 Locks where they enjoyed some excellent refreshments at the 14 Locks Café.

May 9th
The Cycling Group's outing in May took them on a 12 mile ride on quiet roads and lanes across the Gwent Levels towards Peterstone. Following National Cycle Route 88 from Pencarn Way Duffryn they were soon out in the countryside and heading west towards Marshfield on Percoed Lane. The quiet of the countryside was broken only by the trilling of unseen birds from the hedgerows and reed beds and the occasional rush of a train from the main line across the fields. At Marshfield there was a short climb over the main line bridge. A line of stanchions heading for Cardiff and in the distance some new concrete bridges, signalled the progress being made towards electrification. The next stop was at Peterstone Gout, a large basin that collects water from the reens to prevent inland flooding at high tide. They left the bikes there and they walked along the banks of the inlet out to the sea wall. A peaceful scene with the mud glistening in the sunlight as the tide receded. The only noise coming from birdsong and the occasional click of a well struck ball from nearby Peterstone Golf Course.

The return trip was rounded off with a circuit of the lake at Tredegar House to see the massive rhodedenron bushes in full flower, and ended with a well earned cup of tea at the TeaRooms.
 

April 11th
The Cycling Group kicked off their summer season with a pleasant 9 mile ride, taking in the Wetlands Coastal Path and then on through Goldcliff to the seawall. It was a typical April day, cloudy with a light breeze but also occasional bursts of warm sunshine. The first stop was at the East Usk Lighthouse. It was built in 1893 and appears as a somewhat squat building for a lighthouse. The display board shows that it originally stood on a supporting structure and was much higher than the surrounding ground. The supporting legs can no longer be seen. This is because in the years after the Second World War the surrounding ground was used for the disposal of ash from Uskmouth Power Station, raising its level and presumably burying the legs of the light house. The next stop was at the Goldcliff Lagoons just a short distance from Goldcliff Common, where we had a good view of the Avocets from one of the RSPB hides. Once a rarity, these elegant black and white wading birds now regularly return to this part of the Wetlands for their breeding season. Our final destination was the SeaWall Café at Goldcliff where we sat in the garden and relaxed with a cup of tea and a cake, before walking out to the headland, then cycling back to the Wetlands Car Park.
 

Safety

The route will have been reconnoitered by the ride leader partly to identify any risks so the Group can be informed before they set off. Cycling in a group is safe if some common sense precautions are followed. These are:-

  • avoiding collisions by leaving a gap between riders.
  • riding in single file along roads and not more than two abreast off road. Remember that most off road tracks are shared with pedestrians. If approaching them from behind, give them plenty of warning by ringing your bell.
  • letting other riders in your group know if you intend to stop by shouting "stopping" loudly.
  • keeping the group together by having a leader in front who will set the pace. If there is a big group have a backstop who can signal to the front with a whistle if there is a need to stop.

All those participating in a ride do so at their own risk. A form is issued to members when they join the group asking for emergency contact details and medical information. The ride leader will hold this information because it is of assistance if they should they be involved in an accident which requires the emergency services to be called.

Equipment

Firstly a safe and roadworthy bike. Then I think it's necessary to have a bell and to carry a bike lock. It's also highly advisable to wear a helmet, cycling gloves and some item of hi viz clothing. The ride leader will carry a first aid kit, a pump and a tyre repair kit but bring yours along if you have them.

John Dainton



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