Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Newport Transporter Bridge 07/02/2010

Launching from Penarth as I did last week, but today there was no spectacular sunrise just a cold, cloudy start to the day. The sea was calm and as yet no sign of the forecasted wind of force 4 or 5 as I paddled past Penarth Pier and Cardiff Bay.

The plan for today was to paddle with the flood tide to Newport and up the River Usk to the Transporter Bridge before the tide turns. I paddled for about 45 minutes before taking a break by the steelworks on Rover Way, its nice to see they are doing their bit for the environment!

The paddle to Newport and the mouth of the River Usk was pretty uneventful with the coastline much the same but I made good progress with the tide helping me along even though the tides are neaps at the moment. The mouth of the Usk is marked by the now disused West Usk Lighthouse.

The West Usk Lighthouse was designed by the Scottish architect James Walker and built in 1821. When it was built it was situated on an island but since then the land has been reclaimed and it is now part of the mainland. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1922 and is now a bed and breakfast.

As I paddle up the Usk I pass the entrance to the Alexandra Dock which was opened in 1875 after the Town Dock was failing to cope with the continuing expansion of the export of coal.

On the other side of the Usk is the Uskmouth Power Station or the Fifoots Power Station which was built in 1959 and is currently one of the cleanest coal fired power stations in the UK powering around 360,000 homes.

As I paddle further upstream I pass more smaller docks and numerous remains of wooden jetties from a much busier bygone age.

My trip's destination soon fills the skyline, the bridge was designed by Ferdinand Arnodin and is the largest of the 8 remaining Transporter bridges worldwide. A Transporter bridge was built here as the river banks are very low and a traditional bridge would have needed a very long approach road and would not allow tall ships to pass underneath and a ferry would be no use as it could not be used at low tide.

The bridges' 2 towers are 242' or nearly 74 metres high with a span between the centre of the towers of 645' or 196 metres and a beam height of 177' or 54 metres above the road height.

The cradle can carry 6 cars and 120 passengers but not at the moment as the bridge has been closed since 2008 and is undergoing repairs and hopefully will reopen soon.

The tide is just starting to turn as I start my paddle back downstream helping my progress as I travel back past 2 wind turbines which are motionless as the wind has dropped totally causing a glassy flat river in front of the power station.

It is an easy paddle out of the River Usk passing the West Usk Lighthouse and one of the many red port marker buoys that I will now pass on my paddle back.

The paddle back is again uneventful with conditions perfect and still no sign of the wind increasing with the sun almost breaking through the thick cloud at times.

Nearing Penarth I pass the Sospan Dau, the Dredger I watched last weekend dredging the entrance to the Cardiff Barrage, today though she is at anchor.

A paddle of 25 nautical miles ( almost 28 miles or 44.5 kms) taking in some of the industrial highlights of Cardiff and Newport.

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