The stream in Paradise Bottom

OK, I have to start by saying I love the name Paradise Bottom!  It’s a valley with a couple of streams in it at the most northern part of Leigh Woods, on the bank of the River Avon.  This part is owned by the Forestry Commission, and it includes what was an arboretum, designed by Humphry Repton in the 18th Century, so there are all kinds of interesting trees.  The main stream starts at a pond at the top, with other springs and streams joining it, and more ponds further down in the woods, before the stream joins the Avon.

I’ve walked and cycled on the path along the Avon, but never gone up into it before, so Matt Gibson and I went exploring last Sunday, looking for the water.

My photos are here – it was dappled woodland light, which all my cameras found hard, but wow it was beautiful!  Golden-green sunlight through the leaves, the smell of wild garlic everywhere, and I have some clips of what it sounded like below.  Mouse/swipe over the first photo, and it should bring up the slideshow…

Waterfall from a Paradise Bottom pond

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Leigh Woods and the Avon silt banks

Back at the start of May, I had a morning trip to Leigh Woods, and it was wonderful – a perfect Spring day, with the clouds whipped across the sky, the light changing continually, from sunny to cloudy and back again.  It was such a perfect Spring day, and I loved exploring the Stokeleigh Camp Iron Age Fort, so on the way back down Nightingale Valley, I turned north and walked up the silt banks, through the long grass, and along the tide lines.   I have photos, and sounds, below, but let’s start with photos.   The album is on flickr, but if you mouse over the first picture, it should bring up a slideshow…

Stokeleigh Camp Iron Age fort

and here’s the map of where I walked – without all the back-and-forth of looking at the same things over and over!

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Avon Stories Podcast #23: Soundwalking with Dan Pope

There are so many ways to explore a place, and one of them is through the sounds you find there.  Dan Pope is an acoustic consultant and musician, who also makes sound-art and runs sound walks, and for this episode, we went walking down the St Philip’s Greenway and the closed Avon path, on a soundwalk.

Between stopping to find out what we could hear, Dan told me about various kinds of soundwalks, and how we can come at them from art, science, politics, ethnography, history, psychogeography, planning, and so many more viewpoints.

We also talked about his work, and what can be done to add positive (and negative!) soundscapes to places.

Dan has a fantastic list of sound resources, for people who want to explore sounds in their area:

  • The Hush City app is a great resource to add sounds you encounter to a global community – you can explore their website and see what they do
  • Cities and Memory is a global sound project, collecting sounds and having sound-artists remix them into sound-art pieces.  For example, their Politics of Protest global sound map.
  • The World Listening Project runs World Listening Day every year, with tons of events, including soundwalks – this year it’s on 18th July
  • The Institute of Acoustics has regional branches across the UK, which run events – find your local branch here.
  • The Bristol Walking Festival doesn’t have specific soundwalks this year, but there are tons of interesting walks to places that you can listen to
  • Apps like Titanium Recorder and the Soundcloud app are great for recording interesting sounds you hear out and about – look them up wherever you get your apps

We also briefly talked about some people working in sounds:

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A February walk: “The source of the Malago”, Stanton Drew and Maes Knoll

I’ve been walking a lot, recently, making the most of some free time, and trying to get outdoors as much as possible.  last week, my good friend Tracy Homer and I had a long day out in the hills south of Bristol, starting off looking for the source of Pigeonhouse Stream (aka the source of the Malago, but more on that later) and then getting deep into the history of the area, walking through the hills to the megalithic stone circles at Stanton Drew, and back up to Bristol via Maes Knoll, the Iron Age hill fort on the edge of the city.

Photos from the walk are here – I managed to break two cameras, with my Canon 550D just stopping working, and stupidly dropping my Olympus XA2 35mm, so they end up being just from my mobile, and my friend Cee‘s Olympus OM10….  If you mouse over or click the first photo, you should bring up the slideshow – otherwise the flickr album is here.

The source of Pigeonhouse Stream

Here’s the map of our walk:

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A walk from Filton to Eastville along the Frome

Last week I was up in Filton, recording the podcast with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, and afterwards, since I was up in that neighbourhood, I walked down through the Stoke Park Estate, and along the Frome.

Stoke Park was beautiful – completely empty on this hot, summer day, with the sounds of crickets, birdsong, ‘planes overhead, and the M32 thrumming in the distance.  It’s somewhere I’ve only been once before, and I really should find out more about it, especially the strange ruins.

Stoke Park Estate

I have a thing about being underneath roads, so in the tunnel under the motorway, I recorded the sounds – under, and then next to it:

After Stoke Park, I went down to the Frome, starting at the weir at Broom Hill.  Clambering over the sluicegate to stand on the end of the weir, I put my disposable underwater film camera into the weir, for different views of it.  I love these three especially

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