Walking the rails, Portishead to Pill

Back in July, I went to Portishead for the first time, where Dave Chillistone of the Portishead Railway Group took me on a podcast-walk around the town and told me about the history of the Portishead to Bristol railway line, and why it should be re-opened.  One of the things Dave told me about was walking the line to Pill, and I promised myself I’d come back and walk it myself, before the railway was re-opened.   It needs to be walked in the winter, when the summer plants had died back, and Monday turned out to be the perfect day to do it – sunny, cold and dry.

My photos are here (Olympus XA2 35mm point & shoot, Canon 550D DLSR and a couple of iPhone).  If you mouse over or click on the first picture, it should take you to the slideshow, or you can go directly to the flickr album.  And there are words and a map below too.

Gate across the tracks

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Pigeonhouse Stream, Crox Bottom

Crox Bottom is a little park, off Hartcliffe Way, where Pigeonhouse Stream (I really love the names!) runs from the lake at the old Imperial Tobacco Factory, down to meet and run under Hartcliffe Way, and then join up with the Malago.   It’s a much bigger river than the Malago, and I don’t quite understand why it’s a tributary – but like the Malago, it’s taken underground by the Dreadnought Interceptor, a huge storm drain, so what passes out of the park is much smaller than what goes in.

I walked it with my friend Cee and her baby, on a cold-but-sunny Monday.   We’d both passed it in cars for years, and wanted to know more about it, so we parked at Imperial Park, walked down the bank along Hartcliffe Way (stopping to run across the road to see where the river comes out), and then back up along the river.  My photos are below – mouse over or click on the first one and it should pull up the slideshow – or just head to the flickr album.

Pigeonhouse Stream, Crox Bottom

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Spring tide, February 2018

Today was the highest tide of the month, one of the highest of the year (11.5m!) and I pulled myself of out bed to get to the very end of the Harbour, by the Entrance Lock, for 9:20 and the high point.   I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a grey, dreich Saturday in February, it’s a big deal.  Especially with the Chocolate Path closed.  Especially in the rain.  But wow, I’m glad I did!

Clifton Suspension Bridge, spring tide

Cumberland Basin, high tide

River, refelctions

When I got to the river, it was still, that moment of balance that I love, and wish I could find in myself.  It’s always a rush to get as many shots as possible in that time, and I was cursing because I’d once again forgotten the cameras I wanted to bring, spare film etc.   But it was lovely.  I lay on the edge of the Harbour, putting an underwater camera in the river (it’s so much better doing that in summer) and watched the way the misty rainclouds moved through the trees.

I think my favourite part was standing on the Entrance Lock gate, and watching the water move.  By this time the tide had turned, and the water, which had flooded over the top of the lock gate, was rushing back out to re-join the river, bringing clouds of silt.  I only had my phone to take films, but this makes me very happy:

The clouds of silt always look so magical, and I could have watched this for days.  I walked on around the Harbour, and had other adventures too – but those will be in my next podcast…

 

Moon-watching

Yesterday was the last day of January, and the special-blue-blood-moon, or whatever the hashtag is.  I’d loved it all the way home, running across roads to try (fail) to take photos – so when I got home, I persuaded Vik we should go and see if we could see what it looked like over the river.

It was COLD, the water choppy in the wind, and dark, with the moonlight rippling on the wavelets.  High tide, coming up to spring tide tomorrow, and apparently the highest tide of the year.  With all the recent rain, the Entrance Lock gates were open, and the Cumberland Basin so full.  We walked through Greville Smyth Park in the dark, feeling for the path with our feet, to the very end of the Harbour to look at the water.  Of course it made me miss the Chocolate Path more than ever, and that is always going to cast a pall on any river walk – but I’m really happy I did this, instead of just collapse on the sofa.

I’m waiting for my film photos to come back, though not hopefully, as 100iso on a point & shoot without a tripod is not the best way to take photos in the dark (…) but here are three from my mobile phone, lit by the streetlight.   I loved how the collapsing piers by the Entrance Lock became islands in the water, and how easy it was to forget how incredibly deep the river was.

The collapsing piers, like islands at high tide

Public art, collapsing pier

Night Avon, high tide

Looking for the Malago (January explorations)

I’m temping at the moment, which I do from time to time, and always try to use it as an opportunity to explore, especially places I don’t usually go.  Of course, it’s hard to do that in January, when it’s murky in the mornings, usually dark when I’m walking home, and it’s been raining almost every lunch time.  But I have had the opportunity to look for the River Malago, and that’s been fantastic.

I’ve walked along the Bedminster parts of the Malago so many times, and back in October, I walked the stretch through Manor Valley Woods for the first time, and I’ve always wanted to look for the source of the river in the Dundry hills, so I’m really happy to be looking for the river in different places.  I have some January Malago photos – not great pictures, but ones infused with memories for me.

This is the place that the Malago leaves the woods on the Dundry, and enters the city:

Malago plank bridge

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Compare and contrast – Gaol Ferry Bridge

I have always been fascinated with how the same thing can look so different when taken with different cameras – everything from what’s included or discarded by the size of a lens, to the way colours come out, or just a different atmosphere.  But I think I’ve hit a new high in compare-and-contrast, and it’s making me laugh.

I tend to take photos of the Avon when I cross the footbridges, so one night last week we were walking home from town over Gaol Ferry Bridge, and the river was full, so I took this on my phone, looking east:

Gaol Ferry Bridge night

Moody, dark, and I like that it still shows the wind on the river.   At the same time I took one on my Olympus XA2 – my 35mm point & shoot.  I used the edge of the bridge as a tripod, because it would have a longer exposure.   And here’s how it came out:

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Self indulgence, Avon mud

If you look at my site for even a few minutes, you will have realised that I obsess about a lot of things photographically, and especially about the Avon mud.   More specifically, about the way the light hits it, and how it continually looks different.   It makes me happy, and film cameras make me happy, so combining the two is great, though it makes me feel guilty and self-indulgent to keep shooting the same thing.

It’s especially an issue now, when camera film is so expensive, and getting the pictures developed it as well.   It can be around £16 in total for a roll of 35mm, and over £20 for 120 and that just hurts (you know I am missing the days of film in the Pound Shop, and cheap film outlets).   So I’m thinking of cutting back on film photography, and predominantly using digital, which is very sad for me… but before I do, I had a completely self-indulgent day shooting nothing but mud on my beautiful waist-viewfinder Bronica ETRS, for medium format “who cares about the cost!” photography.   The sad thing is, all that happened when I got the roll back is I want to do it again, and again, and again.   Ah well.

Here’s the flickr album – if you click on the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.  The first four are along the Chocolate Path, which feels even more poignant now the Path is closed indefinitely, with no hint from the Council as to when it might open (I’m genuinely worried they’ll decide to just let it fall into the river, because there has been so little upkeep of the New Cut, going back years).  I’m glad that at least I did this while I could.

Avon mud - shapes along the Chocolate Path