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Marshfield - St Brides Wentlooge - Peterstone Wentlooge - Marshfield Walk

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The walk begins at St Mary's Church, Marshfield. After passing through the graveyard, the route follows a mixture of grassy tracks, field-paths and quiet lanes as far as the Church of St Bridget, with distinctive leaning tower, in St Brides Wentlooge. The flat, fertile fields between the two villages, each drained by ditches known locally as reens, are more reminiscent of the Netherlands than a typical Welsh landscape. As in much of the Netherlands, this is reclaimed land: prior to the construction of the reens and sea wall, the Gwent Levels would have been a salt marsh regularly inundated by the sea. (It can still be a wet area and mud may be a problem on some paths).

From St Brides, it's a short distance to the sea wall which, with a break at the River Usk, stretches for over fifteen miles from a point just south of Chepstow to the eastern edge of Cardiff. Testimony to the wall's importance can be found on plaques commemorating a disastrous flood in 1606 (January 1607 by modern dating) in the churches of both St Brides and Peterstone. Caused either by a storm surge or a tsunami, a wall of water overflowed the rudimentary sea defences of the time, drowning people as far inland as Marshfield, almost two miles from the sea.

Along the sea wall towards Peterstone Wentlooge is Peterstone Gout, the main drainage outlet for the levels between Cardiff and Newport. (The River Usk splits the Gwent Levels into two distinct parts: the Wentlooge Levels to the west of the river and the Caldicot Levels to the east). Mud is the main feature of the landscape to your left (though suprisingly, there is a small sandy beach near St Brides just above the high tide line). The whole area provides a valuable habitat for a number of species of wading birds.

Just under a mile after crossing Peterstone Gout, the route heads inland towards Peterstone Wentlooge Church, whose impressive tower dominates the tiny village. (The 'Wentlooge' part of the village's name, which it shares with St Brides Wentlooge, is an anglicisation of Gwynllwg, the traditional Welsh name for the area between the Rivers Rhymney and Usk). After a short section along the B4239 (no pavement), the route crosses fields and a main railway line to reach the edge of Marshfield. Unfortunately, the continuation of the right of way was blocked at the time of writing by impenetrable undergrowth at both ends of the path between the main road through the village at ST 258823 and the start and finish point at Marshfield Church. As a result, the present route follows St Mellons Road and Church Lane to return to the starting point.

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