Saturday, April 09, 2011

usk not what your country can do for you

Well, it's a bit late now, but if I'd known about it at the time this tip might have helped me recover yesterday's lost book review post before it vanished down the memory hole never to be seen again. Worth remembering for future reference anyway.

But one shouldn't dwell on these things, teeth-grindingly irritating as they may be. As I was at a loose end today and it was nice and sunny I decided to go out for a walk; now normally my inclination (geddit?) would be to go and climb a hill somewhere, but I'm currently nursing a slightly busted ankle courtesy of a game of squash a couple of weeks ago, so I plumped for something slightly more sedate instead and drove up to Usk.

Usk is only 15 minutes or so from Newport, straight up the A449, so it's easily accessible, and is quite a nice little place with plenty of pubs, as well as a few other things of interest: these include the river Wye with an old arched stone bridge over it, some bits of old railway line, and a castle.

The railway line is a segment of the old Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway, which, as you might imagine, ran from Coleford to Pontypool via Monmouth and Usk. Most of the trackbed between Monmouth and Usk is now occupied by the A449, but between Usk and Pontypool it's mostly still there, though overgrown; note that most of this is not legally accessible to the general public, so if you get nicked for trespassing, we never had this conversation. That SABRE maps link is really good, by the way, so I've added it to the sidebar.

Anyway, a short section of the track around Usk is still accessible and forms a sort of miniature nature reserve; this comprises the old railway bridge over the Wye and the old Usk tunnel, just outside which is the site of the old Usk railway station, though you'd be hard-pressed to know it was there these days. Walk over the bridge and through the tunnel and you eventually come out on the main road on the east side of town.

Head back into town and you pass the driveway which leads up to Usk Castle; this is a funny little place which is basically part of someone's back garden, but is open to the public for a couple of quid dropped in the honesty box at the gate. Because it's not under the management of the usual heritage organisations like the National Trust the signage isn't quite as good as you might expect, I walked past it a couple of times before I found it. It's worth a look, though; not many castles have rope swings and gazebos attached to them and geese and chickens running around inside.

I took a few photos on the way round: these can be found here.

No comments: