The Usk up close.
A gentle and easy-to-access walk along the scenic banks of the river Usk. Along the way you’ll pass verdant meadows and clear running water, see lots of wildlife – and also get an insight into the history of the gateway town of Abergavenny.
Need to know
Length: Just under 4½ miles (7km)
Time: 1½–2 hours
Start: Pyscodlyn Farm bus stop by Pyscodlyn Farm and Campsite on A40 between Abergavenny and Crickhowell (OS map ref: SO 268156)
Finish: Abergavenny bus station (OS map ref: SO 302140)
There are regular buses from Abergavenny to the starting point on routes X43 and 43
OS map: Explorer OL13 (1:25 000 series)
Facilities: Visitor centre and toilets at Abergavenny bus station, cafés, pubs, shops and railway station in Abergavenny
Along the way
Twitchers will be pleased to learn that this stretch of the river Usk is particularly abundant with birdlife. Colonies of sand martins nest in the river’s sandy banks, providing a dazzling display of high-speed aerobatics as they snap up insects on the wing. Kingfishers can also be spotted regularly, while the winter months give a good chance of seeing goosanders – the males particularly resplendent in their dazzling white plumage with black and green heads.
Its headwaters are in the Usk reservoir at the foot of the remote Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It flows for 63 miles (102km) reaching the sea at Newport. For much of its length – especially in its central stretch around Abergavenny – it flows through a beautiful, broad vale framed by the central Brecon Beacons to the west and borderland Black Mountains to the east. Noted for its flora and fauna (and prized by anglers for its salmon and trout fishing), the river is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The town’s ruined castle was founded in the 11th century, growing into an impressive stone-built fortress by the 1300s before being demolished by Charles I in 1645. What remains of the castle is now home to Abergavenny Museum. It’s a centuries-spanning exploration of local history, featuring everything from Roman artefacts to a recreated World War II air raid shelter, a late 19th-century Welsh kitchen to posters advertising The Beatles’ 1963 show at Abergavenny Town Hall.
Linking Abergavenny and nearby Llanfoist, this has been an important river crossing since the times of King Henry VI – hence its former name of Tudor Bridge. The seven-arched span has seen significant alterations over the years, notably in the early 19th-century when it was widened to accommodate a tramroad. Stop for some refreshments in the garden of the adjacent Bridge End Inn for a lovely view of the bridge and the gently flowing waters of the Usk.
For a full route description, please click here.
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