WITH Wales now in 'firebreak' lockdown, people in Gwent may be looking for areas - local to them, of course - for exercise.

Welsh Government restrictions allow for the taking of exercise, as it is important for physical and mental health, but guidelines state 'the nearer you stay to your home, the better.'

The guidelines say: "Your exercise should start and finish from your home, and you should exercise alone or with a member of your household."

Gwent has a huge range of places for exercise such as walking, cycling, and jogging - below are just a few, broken down by county - and if your favourite 'stay local' exercise spot is not mentioned, why not let us know what it is, and send in a photo? Email newsdesk@southwalesargus.co.uk


Route 88 of the National Cycle Network

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Steve Binns

This cycling/walking route has a section which goes from Newport city centre to Caerleon, following a seven-mile mainly flat path which runs alongside the River Usk. There's plenty of wildlife to see along the way.

Another section of Route 88 starts near Tredegar House in Newport and heads towards Marshfield.

Allt-yr-yn Nature Reserve

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Sebastian Kolesnik

This 32-acre site is a lovely place to explore, with plenty of woodland and ponds - including one made from a disused lido.

Parts of this nature reserve are often uneven and muddy, so suitable footwear is advised and it’s not ideal for pushchairs.

For a longer walk, Allt-yr-yn is also directly linked to the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, which is mentioned below.

Fourteen Locks Canal

South Wales Argus:

Fourteen Locks Canal Centre and Cafe, in Rogerstone, is positioned on top of the Cefn flight - a series of locks - and the canal towpath is part of the national cycle route 47.

This open space is perfect for socially distancing, with an abundance of nature to check out.

Fourteen Locks Canal Centre’s Café will offer a take-away menu throughout the ‘firebreak’ lockdown, but the toilets and shops will be closed during this time period.


Black Rock Picnic Site

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Catherine Mayo

Black Rock Picnic Site, in Portskewett, is a scenic picnic site on the banks of the River Severn between the two Severn Bridges.

Not only does it offer some lovely views, but the area has a rich history. Lave net fishermen at Black Rock are the last Lave Net fishermen in Wales with the tradition passed down through generations.


South Wales Argus:

Picture: Catherine Mayo

This 561-metre hill offers a spectacular view from the top, with Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal based at the foot of it, and numerous footpaths and brideways running to and over Blorenge.

People can access Blorenge from Foxhunter car park or, those wanting more of a challenge, can ascend from Abergavenny via Cwm Craf, which is fairly steep.

Magor Marsh

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Larry Wilkie

Magor Marsh is one of the last remaining pieces of natural fenland that once covered the Gwent Levels, an area of 36 hectares with free entry.

There are various paths and boardwalks throughout the reserve, but some parts are boggy and uneven. Animals regularly graze in the area but, due to wildlife, dogs are not allowed on the marsh.

None of these Monmouthshire options taking your fancy? You can search for a walk in Monmouthshire here.


Pontypool Park

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Jason Burgess

This 64 hectare park is rated the #1 thing to do in Pontypool by TripAdvisor and has historical features such as Italian Gardens, Ice Houses and Shell Grotto.

The park also links to the Folly Tower, via a public footpath, and links with Brecon Beacons National Park on the most northern boundary.

Dogs are welcome, but cycling, horses, motorised vehicles and fishing – without the appropriate licence – is not allowed at Pontypool Park.

Garn Lakes

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Kris Sheridan

Garn Lakes Local Nature Reserve, in Blaenavon, was originally covered in spoil tips and old colliery workings but - after a land reclamation scheme - it opened in 1997 as a nature reserve.

The 40-hectare reserve has lakes and grasslands, resulting in a diverse amount of birds and wildlife in the area. It has disabled access and is a great starting point for many walks in the industrial area.


Parc Penallta

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Hajnalka Csilik

Parc Penallta is a loop trail near Hengoed, suitable for all skill levels, and boasting 'Sultan the Pit Pony' which is one of the largest figurative earth sculptures in Wales.

Visitors can make their way up to the High Point Observatory which offers 360° panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

There are a few trails on offer, meaning something for everyone.

Cwmcarn Forest

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Wayne Hawkins

Residents of Caerphilly are welcome to make use of Cwmcarn Forest’s walking and cycling trails, with a lake also on-site, and most of their visitor facilities still open for local guests. People wanting to use these facilities will have to wear a mask and scan a QR-code for track and trace.

They've changed the normal route for some trails, to help maintain social distancing, with signage in place.


Sirhowy Valley

South Wales Argus:

Picture: Linda Smith

Sirhowy Valley Country Park has various walking routes available, along with a mountain bike trail.

Walkers can enjoy the 12-mile Raven Walk through the park or for those looking for a challenge there is the 27-mile Sirhowy Valley Walk. This challenging route passes lowland and upland farms, woodlands and riverside parks, along with sites of historical interest - including an Iron Age hill fort, an old mill and a canal centre.


South Wales Argus:

Picture: Jonathan Powell

Parc Nant-y-Waun is a nature reserve and community Green Flag award winner, based in Brynmawr ideal for walking, with visitors welcome to bring their four-legged friends.

Jonathan Powell, who lives in the area, said: "It’s a lovely wildlife park with nature trails."