Bristol ferry trip down the New Cut

This summer, I experienced something that was legitimately one of the very best things I’ve done in Bristol, and something I’ve longed to do for years – I went on the Bristol Ferry trip down the New Cut, to Netham Weir.

This is a rare trip anyway, as the Bristol Ferry Boat Company only run a couple of these a year, but for the last year they haven’t run them at all, as Ashton Avenue Bridge was covered in scaffolding for the Metrobus works.  In the past I’ve only seen these trips after they happened, but for the 6th July expedition,  I booked my tickets early, and persuaded some friends to come too – my good friend Matt Gibson, Charlie Revelle-Smith of Weird Bristol fame, and landscape architect Wendy Tippett, who I podcasted with last year about the Sylvia Crowe landscapes of the Cumberland Basin, and her architect husband Andrew.

Here’s the map of our trip:

and my album of photos – click through, or mouse/swipe over the first photo below, and hopefully you’ll see a slideshow.  I took a lot of photos, so I’ve written about them as well below…

fullsizeoutput_25c0

If you want to know about the New Cut, before I start, check out my podcast interview with Roy Gallop of the Friends of the Avon New Cut, who told me about the history of this very special part of the Avon.

Continue reading “Bristol ferry trip down the New Cut”

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.

Avon Stories Podcast #16: Exploring the New Cut, and finding out about its Friends

Back in August, Roy Gallop, one of the founders of the Friends of the Avon New Cut, took me for a walk along the Cut, down the Chocolate Path and back along Coronation Road, and told me all about this man-made river route – the huge trench that takes the tidal river Avon through the city of Bristol.

The Cut was built to enable the river route to be turned into the fixed-height Floating Harbour, to try to keep Bristol as one of the most important ports in the UK.  Now, the Cut is an urban nature reserve, a green corridor that’s home to a wide range of flora and fauna, and the Friends of the Avon New Cut (FRANC) have worked to celebrate and protect it.

Map used with kind permission of the Friends of the Avon New Cut

But this is a sad podcast for me too, because it reminds me what we’ve lost.  Roy and I spoke about how the Cut has been neglected, and left to gradually collapse, and since we took our walk, the whole of the Chocolate Path has been closed for the foreseeable future, due to erosion.  It’s so depressing that this fantastic car-free route has been lost to the city, but I’m very glad we recorded this while we could.

Please do check out the FRANC website, and join them on their walks and talks, events and litter picking days.  You can also buy the book about the Cut that Roy published and download their walking guides.  And of course, follow them on facebook.

You can also explore the New Cut throughout history, with maps of Bristol before and after it was built, and photos and drawings and much more, on the Know Your Place website.  You can find out more about KYP in this podcast and post.

Here’s the route of our walk – and I’ll add photos to this post tomorrow, too.

***

You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up for all the future podcasts via the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to make sure you hear all the future stories.  You can also follow the project on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the rivers and water in Bristol.

1st November Avon view

 

Back at the start of the month I was taking the kind of walk I do a lot of in winter.   I get SAD, and I’ve been freelancing, so I have to make a conscious effort to leave the house sometimes.   One thing I do is order books from the library, so I have a continual reason to be out, dropping off read books, taking out new ones.   They start off as  functional, deliberate walks, rather than explorations, or leisure, but they can lead into more.

IMG_3270

IMG_3272

This time I started getting fascinated with the wooden structures that are built into the silt banks along the stretch of river between Bedminster Bridge and the former entrance to the Harbour at Bathurst Basin.   They look so botched together, straining at the pressure of holding up the weight of the banking, and on their last legs.  I wonder when they were built, how long they will last, and what will happen when they fall – and that makes me think about how so much of the New Cut has been so badly maintained, and seems like one or two big storms away from collapsing.   It’s an unnatural river, and should need constant upkeep.  Without it, it won’t last another 50 years, let alone 100.

Where the Avon used to join the Floating Harbour, at Bathurst Basin

My photos were bad – grey November day, just my iphone, and 200iso in my 35mm, but I love them.   I hopped over the fence to look at the mechanics of the outlet that lets the Malago into the Avon, as I’m always intrigued as to what everything is.  It’s this kind of view I like best, and these are the moments the functional walks turn into something more.

Where the Malago joins the Avon

Malago structures, on the Avon

And it’s a continual obsession to take the same photos with multiple cameras, to see how the view changes – here’s the river from an unusual viewpoint, phone & 35mm.

Avon compare & contrast

Avon view - compare and contrast

The composition is better on the mobile, the colours better on film – but neither are great.   I wish I’d had my medium format or DSLR with me.   But I love them for the memory, and because I can’t remember seeing this view before.  I want to see what it looks like in winter, and spring, and summer.  Golden hour and frosty morning light, and everything between!