Saturday, 23 June 2012

Usk: Usk Castle and Gwehelog Common

Twyn (Town) Square

We were in nearby Llangybbi on family business and decided to do a walk from Usk. I found this one on the excellent Usk Walks website. I chose it because it goes past the Castle. The walk starts in Twyn Square, a charming and picturesque square, notable for its clock celebrating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. We saw another Jubilee clock in Margate last month; it's a tradition which seems to have died out.

We then walked up to the Castle, which is located in what is now somebody's back garden. The first sight is impressive: the Great Keep (originally the Gate House), which dates from about 1170.

You go up a path and through the entrance gate into the surprisingly spacious inner ward, with the imposing Garrison Tower of 1209 opposite across the grass.

There are also the ruins of the Treasure Tower and the Hall. And fine views towards the Priory Church of St Mary and the hills beyond. Altogether a hidden gem.

We now started the walk proper, following a track up to Castle Farm. Just before the farm there was a fine view to the north west towards the Blorange (561m) and the Sugar Loaf (at the extreme right of the photo, 596m).

We now walked through Lady Hill Wood, alive with birdsong, and across fields to reach the outskirts of the scattered settlement of Gwelelog Common. At this point we took the shorter option and followed the lane in an arc through a pleasant valley down to the B4598 road which leads down into Usk.

Just before we reached the road junction, we spotted this splendid windmill over to the right.

It is the Llancayo Windmill. It was built around 1850, but burned down in 1876 and remained a charred shell until it was restored in recent years. It now offers holiday accommodation.

We walked along the grass verge for a way and in due course were joined by the river Usk on the right, noticeably full and fast-flowing. A bit further on there was a section of grassy river bank that could be walked on and as we entered Usk we took the Conigar Walk which led along the bank to the handsome bridge.

From here, we walked along Bridge St to return to Tywn Square.

Distance: about 5 miles.

Map: Explorer 152 (Newport and Pontypool).

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Rating: four stars.

Flowers of the day

We saw a lot of small yellow flowers by the wayside as we walked along the lanes of Gwelelog Common. This is Wood Avens (or Herb Bennet).

And a cluster of these larger ones, which turn out to be Perforate St John's Wort.

No comments: