Monday, July 15, 2013

limited parking available

As I've said before, Newport isn't the obvious city of choice if you're looking for somewhere to live or visit - off the top of my head Barcelona, Sydney and New York might be ahead of it in the world pecking order, plus maybe one or two others I haven't thought of, but it does have a few things going for it: it's a handily-placed transport hub for both road and rail, and it's got some interesting industrial history, including the splendid Transporter Bridge.

That said, the city centre is a dilapidated concrete disaster where I seldom venture, despite various mooted urban redevelopment projects, the most recent of which centred around the thousands of well-heeled American tourists who were going to pop in for some shopping between sessions of the 2010 Ryder Cup. However, as was entirely predictable, the golf crowd preferred to lounge around in their out-of-town hotels, get periodically bussed in to Celtic Manor for the golf and then jet back across the Atlantic without having gone anywhere near central Newport (and thus avoiding being stabbed up and robbed).

What Newport also has in its favour is some interesting city parks, little green oases which are all the more pleasing for being in sharp contrast with their surroundings. All cities have these, to be fair - my previous place of long-term residence, Bristol, has The Downs, Brandon Hill Park, Windmill Hill and the Oldbury Court and Ashton Court estates. While Newport doesn't have anything to compete with the grandeur of The Downs, there are a few little gems if you know where to look. Here's a few that I've found on my travels over the past few years:
  • Tredegar Park - this is in a couple of parts, firstly the area around Tredegar House, which has some nice grounds, a lake, and is the venue for the weekly Newport Parkrun which I have been unwise enough to struggle round a couple of times of a Saturday morning. The second bit is the wilder section just to the north (accessible via a gate off Bassaleg Road) which includes the Gaer hillfort
  • Belle Vue Park - just round the corner from our old house, this is a pretty Victorian park with some interesting trees and some grassy areas; quite hilly though. 
  • Beechwood Park - just round the corner from our new house, this is a pretty Victorian park with some interesting trees and some grassy areas; quite hilly though. Spooky, huh?
  • Glebelands Park - tucked away at the end of a single-track road just by junction 25 of the M4, this is quite an extensive grassy area in the crook of the elbow in the Usk where it turns from flowing west to south to cut through central Newport. It's cut in half by the elevated slip roads for junction 25a, and contains the remnants of an old miniature railway, a glimpse of the unimaginably glamorous glory days of which can be seen here
  • Coronation Park - this is the venue which prompted this blog post when I was there on Sunday for a dog show. It's a long story, but basically Hazel was there in a non-dog-related capacity and I thought I'd take Nia down for a look around. Anyway, it's quite a nice little spot (though like Glebelands Park tucked away down an unpromising-looking road), next to the river and just a few yards from the eastern end of the Transporter Bridge. The bridge's eastern cable anchorage is at the park's north edge (my vantage point for the photo above). 

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