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#SwanseaWalk4EU – Day 5 – Newport

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Edmund Sides

Day 5 – Senedd, Cardiff: to Newport

My wife, Rhiannon left early to go back to Swansea to look after her mother and to attend a lecture in Swansea by Lord Adonis in the evening.  Meanwhile, I was given a lift into the Senedd, together with my luggage, by Anita who again acted as the support vehicle driver during the day.  The weather was totally different from yesterday, with a strong blustery wind and some driving rain, which meant that we had to sit on our banners and placards for much of the time to prevent them blowing across the bay.  Chris my fellow walker arrived at about 8:45 and we took some photos in front of the Senedd building.  A freelance photographer, Polly, also turned up and took some photos of us before we set off.  We both put on our waterproofs and then headed out of Cardiff, first along the A4161 and then cutting through the Splott to join the A48 at the edge of Cardiff.

My theme for today was walking and we had one very welcome coincidence on the route.  We were both walking along at a fairly brisk pace when a young woman overtook us and then when she saw our banner started talking to us.  We found out that her name was Becca and that she was a keen long-distance walker who was very annoyed by the way things were going with Brexit.  As we were passing her place of work, she asked if we had time to stop for a cup of coffee.  We decided that we had and then had a welcome break from the strong wind whilst we enjoyed a complimentary coffee at Spit and Sawdust (“a not-for-profit social enterprise, centred around an indoor skate park with a shop, café and creative programme” according to information I found on the web later.”), . 

We continued eastward with a strong tailwind adding about 10% to my normal pace.  Shortly before one o’clock, we bade farewell to Cardiff as we crossed into the Newport Council area.  Here we were met by Steve and Sally, two members of the Gwent for Europe group.  We stopped for lunch in Castleton sitting on some benches in the sun.  Just as we finished lunch, we had a short burst of hail but luckily this did not last for long and most of the afternoon was cloudy with sunny spells.

A bit further along we were joined by Dewi who accompanied us for the rest of the afternoon.  Before long we arrived at the outskirts of the city proper and passed the Airbus factory at Coedkernew to our left, another enterprise which must be hugely concerned by all the uncertainty with regards to the UK’s future legal and regulatory relationship with the EU.  A short while later we had a glimpse of Tredegar House in the distance.  On entering the pedestrianised part of town we saw a statue commemorating the ‘tramp-poet’ William Henry Davies (W.H.Davies) and then walked along the riverfront from the eye-catching suspension bridge up as far as the Red Wave (officially it is the ‘Steel Wave’, a sculpture by Peter Fink).  The sculpture “reflects Newport’s history of steel manufacturing and the foundation of the town on the banks of the rivers Usk” (South Wales Argus on-line article).  Here we took some final photographs to mark the end of the leg, and then I went with Anita to be handed over to my host for tonight, Ryan. 

Today we covered 15.8 miles (25.5 km) over the course of 8 hours.

The positive benefits of walking

My theme for today was the positive benefits of walking.  Our small group of three walkers had a bit of discussion on this topic and were in general agreement on the following items:

  • You see lots of things that you would not normally see when you drive past in a car.  This included the government’s “Are you prepared for Brexit posters” which we noted whilst walking but were a total surprise several of the Newport residents who I mentioned them to.
  • You get more fresh air, although this is not always true alongside busy roads
  • It makes you fitter
  • Improves your sense of well being
  • Good for your mental health
  • You enjoy your food, drink and warm shower or bath at the end of the day
  • Walkers are probably in general happier than motorists.

Obeying the Highway Code and walking facing on-coming traffic, I noticed that very few drivers seem happy and smiling when queuing for traffic lights. I don’t think that it was to do with the banner and flags which we were carrying but just the fact that driving makes a lot of people stressed.  Far better to walk if you can, especially if you have some good walking companions with whom you can share a joke and a laugh.  There are lots of rambling groups around the country who will normally welcome new members.  Swansea Ramblers, of which I am a member, has a very active programme and there are similar groups all around the UK. 

Even though the fact that I am walking to London is related to the ongoing Brexit saga, I have found that it has totally destressed me mentally in that I am having to focus on both the physical and logistical aspects of the walk and have had no time for the past fortnight to listen to the news on the radio or watch it on television.