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Chepstow [3] (Cas-gwent) is an ancient market town and former port situated on the River Wye (Afon Gwy) in South Wales a short distance upstream from where the Wye and Severn rivers merge. A Norman castle founded in 1067 stands at the water's edge. A considerable portion of the massive town wall (Port Wall ) remains intact as does the Town Gate which provides access from the west. Until the bypass was built a few years ago, access from the east was limited to John Rennie's cast iron 1816 bridge across the river Wye.

Get in[edit]

Chepstow Castle and Bridge

By car[edit]

Chepstow has very good road connections to the rest of the UK. The A466, the main road by-passing Chepstow, follows the Wye Valley to Monmouth via Tintern and Llandogo, while the 1966 Severn Bridge provides easy access to London and the east of England via the M4 motorway; and to the north, the West Midlands and the southwest via the M5. A toll of £6.40 has to be paid for cars when crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales. It costs nothing to cross from Wales to England. The same charges apply on the Second Severn Crossing, a newer road bridge downstream of the original 1966 bridge.

By rail[edit]

Chepstow is served by an hourly rail service running from Cardiff to Cheltenham (via Newport and Gloucester), operated by Transport for Wales. (Some of these services also extend west of Cardiff to Maesteg via Bridgend.) It is also served roughly once an hour by CrossCountry trains running between Nottingham and Cardiff via Birmingham, which provide connections to Scotland and the north of England.

Getting to Chepstow from London will normally involve getting a train from London Paddington to Newport, Cheltenham or Gloucester, and then a direct service from any of those stations to Chepstow. If you get the train to Newport, it is sometimes quicker to complete your journey using the Severn Express bus service (see "By bus or coach" section) than using the train.

By bus or coach[edit]

The coach (intercity bus) company National Express [4] offers a direct service from London's Victoria Coach Station to Chepstow (continuing onward to Newport, Cardiff and Swansea). The service operates only a few times per day but takes roughly the same amount of time as getting from London to Chepstow by train – around 2 hours 45 minutes. There are also National Express services to Chepstow from Brighton via Gatwick and Heathrow airports (see "By plane" section).

The Severn Express bus service [5] runs from Bristol to Chepstow, continuing onward to Newport. The service runs roughly once an hour Monday to Saturday and four times a day on Sundays and public holidays (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day). As Bristol has a wider variety of National Express coach destinations than Chepstow, sometimes taking a coach to Bristol, followed by the Severn Express to Chepstow, may be the best option.

There are also many bus services between Chepstow and its neighbouring towns and villages, most of which are operated by First West of England [6].

By plane[edit]

Bristol Airport is a 40-55 min drive from Chepstow and offers a wide range of budget European flights. It is 1 hour 32 minutes from Chepstow by public transport: take the A1 bus to Bristol Bus Station and the Severn Express bus service from there to Chepstow. You can also get from Bristol Temple Meads station to Chepstow by train, but this takes longer and requires changing at Newport or Gloucester.

Cardiff Airport is a 55 min-1 hour 20 min drive away and offers a smaller, but decent, range of budget European flights. Getting to Chepstow by public transport is more complicated, but usually involves getting the bus or train to Cardiff, followed by the train from there to Chepstow, taking 1 and a half to 2 hours in total. Use Traveline [7] to plan your journey.

Birmingham Airport, a busier and more widely served airport than either Bristol or Cardiff, is 1 and a half to 2 hours away by car. It is relatively easy and quick (around 1 hour 45 mins) to get to Chepstow by public transport; take the train from the airport to Birmingham New Street, and then the hourly CrossCountry rail service direct from there to Chepstow.

Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the UK, is around a 2-hour drive to Chepstow along the M4 in good traffic, sometimes significantly longer in heavy traffic. The quickest way to get from Heathrow to Chepstow by public transport is by National Express coach service, taking around 2-3 hours depending on the time of day. Getting there by train is more complicated: First, take either the Heathrow Express [8] train to London Paddington or the RailAir Link [9] bus service to Reading station. From London Paddington or Reading, take the train to Newport, followed by a train from there to Chepstow.

Gatwick Airport, a major international airport to the south of London, is a 2 and a half to 3 hour drive away, or just under 4 and a half hours by direct National Express coach. Alternatively, you can take the train from Gatwick Airport to Reading, from there to Newport, and finally from there to Chepstow.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The Priory Church of St Mary, was founded in 1071. Benedictine monks from Cormeilles in Normandy (Chepstow's twin town) were there until the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1540. Today it serves as Chepstow's parish church.
  • Chepstow Racecourse [10] is in the grounds of the ruined Piercefield House.
  • Chepstow Castle [11] is open every day except 24/25/26 Dec and 1 Jan. Mon-Sat 09:30-16:00, Sun 11:00-16:00. There is a charge to enter: £3 adults, £2.50 concession to over 60, children, and student with student card, £8.50 family (2 adults 3 children).
  • Chepstow Museum [12] (free) is opposite the Castle car park.
  • The Severn Princess restoration project : [13]. One of the Beachley/Aust ferry boats, which ran before the Severn Bridge was opened in 1966, has been rescued from Ireland and is being restored.

Do[edit][add listing]

Chepstow has long served as the gateway for the scenic Lower Wye Valley and two long distance walks are accessible from Chepstow: the Offa's Dyke Path [14] and the Wye Valley Walk [15].

If you find yourself at a loose end having viewed the Museum and the Castle at the lower end of Chepstow, there are a few suggestions for a pleasant stroll up to the Town Gate:

  • standing in the car park facing the castle, notice a path to the left going up the hill. This leads to The Dell , a green oasis that gets overlooked by some. There are different views of the surprisingly long castle wall. You can even scramble up close to the wall and walk along until you get to the Barbican end of the castle. Approaching the top of The Dell you have an option of climbing some grassy steps and entering the main car park via the "hole in the wall", an ancient stone doorway in the Town Wall, and then finding your way into the upper town via various alternative exits at the far side. The other option is to exit the iron gate at the top of The Dell and turn left to reach the outside of the Town Gate at the traffic lights.
  • the middle option involves starting from the Museum, and strolling up Bridge Street past a row of bow-windows on the right, past the Powis Almshouses (1716 - see if you can read the tablet high up on the wall), past The Five Alls public house (check the inn sign ), up cobbled Hocker Hill Street (some say Hawker Hill), past St Maur where Horatio Nelson stayed in 1802, according to the plaque on the wall. You can now walk straight ahead to the Town Gate or veer left up the High Street.
  • the third option, starting from the Museum, is to head towards the river, passing Afon Gwy, a place to eat and sleep, on the left. Take a stroll over the 1816 iron bridge (not that much newer than the world's oldest (1781) at Ironbridge, a 100 miles or so to the north). You have to take a photograph of the castle from the bridge (why be different?). It's more photogenic when the tide is in, the water is reflecting, and the sun shining but never mind, with the tide out, and the mud on show, the castle looks more impregnable. The rise and fall of the tide, at 12m, is the second highest in the world. Come back off the bridge to the Bridge Inn and walk along the river bank, which is less pleasant since the flood defences were built in 2001, obscuring the view and re-arranging the seats (they used to line the river bank facing the river). Spot the wall plaque recording the fact that the leaders of the Chartist Insurrection were transported from the Port of Chepstow to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the 3 February 1840. Just before you reach the Boat Inn, turn right and make your way up Lower Church Street, through the iron-railinged path across the graveyard of St Mary's Church, across to Upper Church Street from where, opposite the Montague Almshouses (1615), you can amble up the pedestrianized St Mary Street and the High Street to the Town Gate.

If you support charity shops, Chepstow has about five (it does sometimes vary), watch out for them. St Mary Street has some shops which deal in antiques and objects which one day might be antiques. Every three weeks or so, on a Saturday morning, there is a Farmers' Market in the Place de Cormeilles, adjacent to the Town Gate. Every Sunday morning there is a market at the racecourse which can attract large crowds.

Get out[edit]

  • A few miles upstream from Chepstow, on the river Wye, are the ruins of the Cistercian Tintern Abbey, founded in 1131. While the UK cycycling group Sustrans [16] have proposed an off-road cycling route along the former railway to Monmouth this has been rejected again recently due to local opposition, and consequently the re-instatement of the railway is currently equally likely (i.e. not very).
  • The first part of the Wye Valley Walk [17], which starts at the bottom of The Dell, by the Castle will take you to Tintern. The Offa's Dyke Path [18] will also get you there. Cross the 1816 Bridge over the Wye and follow the steep path up the hill on the other side. You really need walking boots because there are usually some muddy sections. Allow about 3-4 hours for either way. Go one way and come back the other is a good day out, lunching in Tintern.
  • Go climbing at Woodcroft, a couple of miles out of Chepstow, on the Gloucestershire side of the Wye. Wintour's Leap [19] is a limestone cliff popular with climbers and considered "the gem of the Wye Valley".
  • The National Diving & Activity Centre [20] is at Tidenham, a couple of miles away along the road to Gloucester (A48). Site open Wed - Fri: 9:30AM - 5PM 1st dive 10AM, out of water by 4:00PM. Friday/Saturday/Sunday & bank holidays: 8AM - 5PM, Out of water by 4PM. Tel: 01291 630850, e-mail: [email protected].
  • Visit the Dean Forest Railway [21] which is based at the Norchard Steam Centre, on the B4234 Forest Road between Lydney and Whitecroft, about 9 miles from Chepstow. Entrance is free on non-passenger train days. An example of steam train fares is Adult: £6.50, Senior: £5.50, Child aged 5 to 16: £4.50, child under 5 is free, for all day, travel as many times as you like. But see the web site for alternatives: [22].
  • A map of the area (available from most good bookshops and tourist information centres in Chepstow) will allow you to plan your own walks - although beware that several footpaths marked do not exist or will not be in a suitable state. Nonetheless, this can allow some excellent views of the landscape without going far from Chepstow. Check that the map does mark footpaths clearly before buying however, as many don't.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There is a fish and chip shop just outside the Town Gate (The Arch), in Albion Square, and a Chinese takeaway a little further up Moor Street, on the right; there is another sandwiched between the main car park and Bank Street, where you can also sit down. There is an Indian Restaurant at the top of Hocker Hill Street. There are quite a few pubs serving food as well as tea-rooms. Chepstow even has a local department store, Herbert Lewis, in the High Street, which has a coffee shop. Late in 2004, a Greek Meze Bar opened in Welsh Street.

The Coach and Horses Inn on Welsh Street serves proper good-quality home cooking with a specials menu that changes daily

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Green Man and the Gatekeeper, Now at Taurus Crafts, The Old Park, Lydney GL15 6BU (On the A48, Gloucester road from Chepstow, about 8 miles to Taurus Crafts - Look for the Bull sculpture on your left.), 01594843860, [1]. 11.0 to 5.00 daily. Inspired by History, Tradition and Heritage - Original, unique gifts in leather, ceramics and pewter. We also produce our own range of original greetings cards.
    Green Man Plaques • Bags • Belts • Masks • Jewellery • Brooches • Badges • Miniatures • Greetings Cards and more.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • George Hotel, [23] is just outside the Town Gate, in Moor Street. Tel: 01291 625363
  • Chepstow Hotel, [24] is about half a mile up the hill from the Town Gate, on the Newport Road. Tel: 01291 626261
  • Beaufort Hotel, [25] is in the town centre at the top end of St Mary Street. Tel: 01291 622497
  • Castle View Hotel, [26] is opposite the Castle (as you would expect). Tel: 01291 620349
  • B&B accommodation can be booked through the Chepstow Tourist Information Centre, Bridge Street (opp. Castle), Tel: 01291 623772.
  • The First Hurdle Guest House, [27]. Comfortable B&B in central Chepstow location.
  • Coach and Horses Inn, Welsh Street, 01291-622626. A popular B&B which specialises in real ales and cracking proper home-cooking.
  • Clare's Cottage and Dolly's Barn (Monmouthshire holiday cottage & Barn), Itton Chepstow, 01291641856, [2]. checkin: 1400; checkout: 1000. Detached country cottage sleeping up to 4 people and 1 bedroom converted barn that sleeps 2 set in its own garden with fabulous views. Short breaks available From £300 per week.  edit

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