Happy Birthday to the Old Wye Bridge

Opened on 24th July 1816, the Old Wye bridge in Chepstow joins Monmouthshire in Wales to Gloucestershire in England, over the River Wye. Designed by John Rastrick, it has been described as “the finest Georgian Regency arch bridge in Britain and the world.”

It spans the second highest tidal range in the world which can exceed 14 meters in a single day. Unlike 99% of all the rivers in the world, the Wye flows in two directions, South to the sea and north to Tintern. It changes its direction of flow four times every 24 hours. Any bridge here has to be very tall and strong enough to withstand these massive flows of water.

From the Monmouthshire side of the side of the bridge you can see The Gloucester Hole, a small square opening that leads into a large chamber in the limestone cliffs. Stories of its original use include one that it was used for storing tea by the Shirenewton Quakers. Another is that it was used by Brunel for storing explosives when the Railway was built. The union Jack was added by some Chepstow salmon fishermen to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George in 1935

All this and more can been seen on the 870-mile Wales Coast Path from Chester to Chepstow. Here are some things to guide you:

Walking The Wales Coast Path (Cicerone) £14.95

This guide divides the Path into 9 geographical areas and 57 stages, ranging between 15 to 32km in length. Alongside detailed route descriptions and maps for each stage, the guidebook provides a range of practical information, whether you plan to walk the Path in full, or as a series of day-walks. Travel information, advice on accommodation and planning, as well as details on the history, wildlife and geology of the coast ensure that this is an ideal companion to uncovering the Welsh coast on foot.

South Wales Coast: Swansea to Chepstow (Northern Eye Books) £13.99

The 115 mile/185km long South Wales Coast section of the Wales Coast Path runs through unexpectedly varied and dramatic coastal scenery. Along the way are four National Nature Reserves and some 14 miles of designated Heritage Coast, while the deserted salt marshes and mudflats bordering the later stages of the route alongside the mouth of the River Severn are a bird-watchers’ paradise.
This Official Guide splits the route into nine achievable day sections, each of about 10-17 miles / 16-27 kilometres. It contains everything local and long-distance walkers need to enjoy the path.

OS Explorer OL14 £8.99


This Ordnance Survey map covers the Wye Valley & Forest of Dean at a 1:25 000 scale. National trail and recreational routes are clearly marked.

For more on our obsession with bridges see here.




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