Low tide adventures

The heatwave may have dried up the rivers, scorched the grass and given farmers a terrible year, but I have some good memories too.  Back on 3rd July I walked home from work “the long way round”, and went to the very end of the Floating Harbour, where it meets the Avon in the curve of the Entrance Lock walls.  It was low tide, a gorgeous day, and one of the highlights of my summer.

Here’s a flickr photo album of 35mm film shots from my Olympus XA2 (if you mouse/swipe over the first photo below, hopefully you’ll get a slideshow…)

Someone else's footprints

And some words about some of the photos, and a sound:

I started off at the end of the Lock, looking down into the water

Avon water, at the end of the Harbour

And emerging from the water, the siltbank, looking like a deep sea creature.  I really loved how different it looked with the light constantly changing.

Avon silt creature

I always have a fascination with the abandoned, collapsing passenger piers, so I walked round to the slipway to see how far I could walk down towards them.

The collpasing passenger piers

If I’m honest I could have gone further – there was a lot of very slippery silty mud on the slipway, but the slightly raised wall to the river was dry, and if the fence had been there all the way down, I would have tried it.  But there was no fence section for the first part, and I get vertigo, so I didn’t want to risk getting dizzy and fall in the river.  Yup, I regret it, but I didn’t trust my balance.

Walking back round the curve of the Lock wall, it was fascinating how the mud was cracked and dry in the silted up lock.  The mud here is usually ridged and full of texture, but the heatwave seems to have burnt out some of that.  This part would have been covered by the water earlier in the day, but it was so hot that there were huge cracks showing.

Heatwave mud textures

The texture away from the cracks was oddly smoothed out.

Heatwave mud textures

Looking down at the mud by one of the ladders I saw something really interesting – someone else’s footprints!

Someone else's footprints

I’ve always wanted to stand on the mud here, but it’s usually very treacherous – I throw tiny chips of pebbles from the side and watch them make deep bullet holes far out of proportion to their size and weight.  But if someone else had stood here, maybe I could too!

I climbed down the ladder, and when I got to the bottom, I veeeerrrryyyy sloooooowly put first one foot down and then the other – and let go!  I could feel the mud giving a little bit, but I was standing there – so exciting!

I really liked the view from this angle

The collpsing jetties from the silt

and looking up at the ladder

Looking up from the silt

One thing I hadn’t expected was the sound the mud was making, with lots of tiny little pops and hisses as the mud was drying.  I recorded a little bit of it, with the sound of the traffic behind me.

I took a couple of steps, but it was really clear that the silt became wetter moving even an extra step away from the wall.  I loved it down there – I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that again, but it was fantastic to do it once.

My footprints added to the other person’s

Looking down at my footprints and someone else's

I walked back the way I came and climbed down behind the collapsing piers as well – it can normally get very muddy, but the heat meant I could get right down behind them.  While most of the grass everywhere else was yellow and crisped, the tide kept the grass growing on the wood green and fresh.

Behind the collapsing passenger jetties

Overgrown steps

Of course I took more mud photos:

Avon mud, heatwave

Avon mud, heatwave

and went to the Avon Viewpoint ritual spot – getting far down the spike of silt-bank as it was all solid

Avon Viewpoint

And walking home of course I missed the Chocolate Path, but I had more photos, of the teasels, where Ashton Brook meets the river, and Ashton Avenue Bridge:

Teasels, lensflare

Where Longmoor Brook/Ashton Brook joins the Avon

Shadows, Ashton Avenue Bridge

I say this a lot, but I’m so lucky that this is a “usual” walk home from work.  It’s always so different, and my “everyday” walks make me really happy.

3 thoughts on “Low tide adventures”

  1. Great shots, I’ve always been pretty fascinated by the patterns left in the mud from the water. The difference from high tide to low tide here is awesome. I guess it is not advisable to walk very far into that mud though, I wonder how deep it gets?


    1. I frequently wonder this, and I often throw little stones into it to see, and am amazed at how soupy it is – like teeny tiny little chips of stones, gently thrown, will splat in and disappear.

      The silt here has all built up around the abandoned lock, so I guess it was originally as low as the entrance lock. I’ve stood on the silt banks across the river, that are grassed over and solid, but somewhere it must change, right? I love it, I’d love to do experiments on it!


  2. Yeah, some pretty big boats used to go through those locks once upon a time, so I guess it is many, many metres deep! I guess it is like quicksand…still, my curiosity would probably tempt me if I was down there at least with someone with a rope to pull me out of I got stuck lol!
    As for throwing stones into it, definitely a strangely satisfying throwback to childhood, I have checked the odd rock into these banks when passing with the tide out myself!


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