The Avon Valley walk around rivers of east Bristol

I really enjoyed the Bristol Walk Fest, and the last walk we went on was completely fantastic, one I’ve seen in the past, and wanted to do:  the Avon Valley Walk, run by Susan and Rob Acton-Campbell of the Friends of Troopers Hill.  It sold out very fast, but Vik and I put our names down on the waiting list, and were lucky enough to get places.  I have to admit, that when we were on the bus on the way over, and a massive torrential thunder storm started, we were a bit worried, but it was a fantastic day, taking in a secret bath-house, an incredible tree, water meadows, riverside lunch, a ferry, and so much more.  If you ever get the chance to go on a walk run by the Friends, do it!

I’ve tried to map the walk – apologies to Rob and Susan if I got it wrong!

And I have an album of my photos over on twitter (hopefully if you mouse over/click on the first picture, it should start the slideshow too…)

Bath house in the woods

And Vik has a couple of her holga photos from the day, which I love, over on her flickr album:

The green, green grass of home....

So what did we do?

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Take the Ferry down the New Cut

I really enjoyed the Bristol Ferry trips down the River Avon, but I’m very excited about an upcoming trip I’ve booked on – taking the Ferry down the New Cut.

This is a rare trip, especially because they were stopped completely for the last few years as the works on Ashton Avenue Bridge as part of the Metrobus works dragged on and on, and there are only two more planned for 2018, on 6th July and 14th August.  I don’t know how far it will go, but I absolutely can’t wait for the July trip, because I’ve always wanted to see the Cut from this angle.  It costs £18 for adults, or £15 for concessions, and the trip on 6th July leaves from the SS Great Britain landing at 10am, and will take around 3.5 hours.

It will be extra poignant this year, given that the Chocolate Path alongside the Avon is closed indefinitely, with no clue about when, or even if, work will start to re-open it.   But it will be a fascinating trip – if you come too, say hello!  You can see more about the trip, and book tickets, on the Bristol Ferry website – and there are more of their trips here.

Find out more about the history of the Avon New Cut, and why it’s so important to the city, in my podcast with Roy Gallop of the Friends of the Avon New Cut.

Things to do in Bristol this week – walking and canoeing

Lots of water-related activities to do over the next few weeks in Bristol –  I know it’s a bit last minute, but I’m a bit over excited about them!

2018 National Go Canoeing Week, is 26th May-3rd June, with canoe and kayak activities all over the country.  If you know me in real life, you’ve probably heard me moaning about not being able to find a way to paddle around the Harbour, so I was extra excited to see, via morseykayak, that there are canoe trips this week.

We’re going on the evening canoe tour of Bristol on 30th May, run by All Aboard watersports, who are based between Underfall Yard and the Cottage Pub – and there’s 20% off the usual prices for the three special events they’re running this week.  Click through and find out more (and look out for 500 waterproof camera pictures!).  And if you’re not in Bristol, and want to find events in your area, there’s a lot more information on the British Canoeing website.

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Throughout May it’s been Bristol Walk Fest, with all kinds of interesting walks, and while the month is coming to an end, there are still a lot of fun walks to do – if I wasn’t pre-booked, I would definitely go on Monday’s walk exploring the life and times of maritime explorer John Cabot, the Avonmouth Story Walk and the ones that include the River Trym, Exploring Badock’s Wood and Tuesday evening’s walk around Westbury.

The full programme is here – definitely click the “View All Events” link at the bottom of each day, as often the best ones (and evening ones) lurk there!  And follow the @briswalkfest18 twitter and #BristolWalkFest hashtag, to see what other people are enjoying.

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A Forgotten Landscape is a cultural heritage project to conserve and enhance the Lower Severn Vale Levels area, with a lot of community engagement, and they have a really great website and twitter.  They’re currently running the Severnside Walking Festival, with events until 17th June, including walks, workshops and art projects.

I especially like the look of the two workshops creating fire sculptures, which will be burned on Severn Beach, on 8th and 9th June.  Wish I was free, they look like incredible experiences.  But all their events look so fascinating, and they’re also running the Severn Festival at Severn Beach (*sometimes* a really lovely train ride from Bristol…) on 14th July.   I definitely recommend spending some time on the AFL website, though, it’s full of intriguing projects, lovely images and so much to think about.

Silt clouds in the Avon

Yesterday Vik and I were on a walk, and it wasn’t going so well – the walk leaders didn’t have a map, just instructions, and didn’t know where they were going, and that makes me so stressed. So when we got to the Cumberland Basin, we peeled off, and went to look at the river instead.

After the long, long winter, May has been pretty much perfect, and yesterday was a beautiful day.  The sun was low in the sky, and the tide was very high, very still.  We stood on the very end of the Cumberland Basin, looking at the bridge, and then down at the water directly below us.  The first Entrance Lock gates had been opened recently, and clouds of silt were flowing into the river, at first slowly, and then when the second lock gate was opened too, very fast.

It’s one of my very favourite things, watching the clouds of silt under the water – the way they move, like eruptions, or something blossoming.   It’s magical to me, and I always hope I’ll see it.  Of course I wish I’d had my DSLR and tripod with me, as filming on my mobile has limitations, but still, I took nearly 50 snippets of film on my phone.  I’m not posting all of them here, but check out how gorgeous it was.  The light was changing, the water pressures kept changing too, and I was hypnotised.  We spent about an hour and a half there, and then walked home, with everything looking beautiful.  I also took a whole load of photos on my film camera (and UPDATE!  they’re here).

The sounds to imagine are a base rumble of traffic from the Portway ahead to the right, and behind on the Plimsoll swingbridge; the piercing blackbird song coming from across the river ahead of us, other birdsong layered up; and the sound of the water flowing, with gloops as eruptions of silt hit the surface.  The smell was of river-water on a hot day, so evocative and refreshing.  Spring breeze on my skin and in my hair, the stone of the Harbour edge warm in the sun, and gently-rough on my hands and where I sat.  The water was so high, it was only a metre and a half below us, and I was having fantasies of jumping in.

At first, it was relatively slow

Looking out across the river, the surface tensions were picked up by the light, but it was just too bright for my phone

Continue reading “Silt clouds in the Avon”

Cranbrook and the Redland Springs, April

In March I was looking at the springs in Redland that lead to Cranbrook, but I hadn’t realised that the Cranbrook leads down to The Arches, and that, according to the Big Blue Map of Bristol, it’s above ground around there. So two weeks ago, Tracy Homer and I went to have a look for it.   My (mostly phone) photos are in my flickr album (if you mouse over/tap the photo below, you should be able to see a slideshow…)  I have a film-ette and some sounds in the post below too.

The makeshift bridge

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My pictures in Photographique

Excuse my terrible phone photo!

Photographique is Phil Searle’s fantastic Bristol print lab: developing photos, printing them from digital and negative, selling frames and doing all kinds of things.   They’ve recently moved into their new North Street premises.  I’ve been using their services, or just dropping in for  a chat, for 10 years, so I was completely delighted when the manager Hamish Trevis, asked me if I’d like to have my photos on their walls this month.

It was a really good process for me.   This Avon Stories project is about a year old, but while it exists in different forms online (including the podcast and social media), and of course all my walks are In Real Life, I haven’t started showing it yet.  In fact, I haven’t had a show, or put photos on walls since my Photography degree finished, nearly 4 years ago.   I’ve really missed the process of editing, and taking this huge pile of stuff I’ve been making, and thinking how I can present it, so my huge thanks to Hamish and to Phil, for giving me this chance.

If you’re in/near Bristol, please do pop into Photographique, 53 North Street, and check out all their services online – and while you’re there, have a beer in Phil’s fantastic pub, The Hare, next door!   And if you like film photography, you can also enter their Analogue Photography Competition from anywhere in the UK, and win cash prizes.  But if you’re not nearby, I’ve put the photos I’m showing into a flickr album.

As well as putting the photos on the wall, Hamish made me a fantastic little booklet to go with them, so if you can’t get to see the pictures in person, here’s what they are, and why I’m showing them.

A weird occurance on the Avon

A gas leak on the closed Avon path

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Royate Hill and down the Frome

Ever since I went to Royate Hill Nature Reserve while walking along Coombe Brook with Tracy, I’ve been thinking about that space.   I was especially thinking about the photos I took of the brook from the viaduct, and wanting more.   So as last Tuesday was a beautiful day, I hopped on the bus to go back.   After the nature reserve, I walked back into town down the line of the Frome – my map is here:

and the album of photos is on flickr – or if you mouse over the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.   I have some film-ettes too, which I’ve added in below.

Royate Hill viaduct Nature Reserve

It was such a contrast to last time.  That day was grey and misty, Tuesday was blue skies, and breezes.  As soon as I got into the reserve and was walking up the steps, I could see how spring had changed things in the few weeks since I was last here, with cow parsley coming out, and annual plants everywhere.  All the leaves were that perfect spring acid green, shining in the sun.

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