I am slowly working my way through Jack Thurston's fabulous Lost Lanes Wales book.
My latest ride was number 29, In Ruins, which is a loop north of Chepstow, taking in some glorious quiet and hilly lanes.
My write up of the journey is based on starting and finishing in Newport.
Whilst I actually cycled from Cardiff, I have written another blog Cardiff-Newport about my journey through Cardiff to reach Newport, given the challenges of navigating around the large scale house-building projects on the north-east side of Cardiff.
My plan was to join the 'In Ruins' route at ShireNewton, and then complete Jack Thurston's 48km loop from here, before returning back to Newport and then to Cardiff.
In an effort to avoid using the same roads out and back from Newport, I decided to head up to Wentwood Forest from the A48. When planning the route I wasn't sure how much traffic would be on the A48, and so how long I should ride on it. As it was, the traffic volume was light to moderate and with the A48 being wide, it made it easy for the drivers to pass with plenty of space.
There is a small bike lane on the north flank of the A48 (photo) from Newport to Chepstow, however it is small and overgrown , so I decided not to use it.
The ride up to Wentwood forest from turning off the A48 was challenging. Initially very steep, with a gravel section (see photo below) it then continued to be a solid climb for about 3.5km, reaching a peak height of around 300m. Once past the early gravel section the road surface was good, and there was little traffic all the way to ShireNewton.
From ShireNewton it is a fabulous ride down towards Chepstow using National Cycle Route 42. This is a quiet , rural route, and spits you out onto the A48 for the last kilometre into Chepstow.
After a quick visit to see the splendid castle, I stopped for some food and drink at The Orange Crate . This was an ideal choice. I could leave the bike just outside in full visibility from the cafe. They did a great range of healthy and vegan food and drink, plus good take-away options such as cereal bars, cakes and sandwiches. Recommended.
Fuelled up, I decided to press on, as I was aware that the next few miles were going to be quite hilly. Turning right from the cafe, it was a short walk along the pedestrianised street to pickup Welsh Street to head north.
A short burst on the A466, past Chepstow racecourse and then branching off the main road at St Arvans. The A466 was not particularly busy, albeit it was lunchtime on a Thursday, so it may be a different prospect at rush hour.
You climb right from leaving Chepstow when heading North. Once leaving the A466 you are onto fabulous quiet country roads again, and the climbing becomes more serious. From Chepstow you climb about 230m over about 5.5km.
Completing the remainder of the loop through Tintern, north to Trelleck and then back south again to Devauden was glorious riding. The stretch following the Anghidi River into Tintern, and then bowling alongside the River Wye through Tintern was particularly memorable.
One note here is to be prepared for a monster climb ascending about 220m in 5km when leaving Tintern.
Having completed the loop back to ShreNewton I turned right and started heading back west towards Newport. I used very quiet lanes through Llanvair-Discoed and Llanvaches . This was easy riding, good road surfaces and I covered distance quickly.
Once back onto the A48 heading to Newport, I covered a few kilometres before turning off at LLanbedr ontothe Old Roman Road. This and the subsequent Catsash Road pass to the north of Celtic Manor. They are great roads for cycling, rolling with a few hills of 110m or so , but quiet even during the school run peak period.
From here it was a quick drop down past the turning to Caerleon, back into Newport.
A fabulous ride. Give it a go !
I have uploaded the complete ride including the Cardiff to Newport section on strava at Strava Ride