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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An “ordinary” walk around the Harbour

Last Friday Vik and I met after work, did a bit of shopping on Park Street, and then walked home on our usual route from the top of the Triangle – down Jacobs Wells Road, along the Floating Harbour, through Underfall Yard and along the south side of the Harbour, over Vauxhall Bridge and home.  I must have taken parts of this walk thousands of times (though if I had the choice I’d take the Chocolate Path, as I did commuting for years, but now it’s been closed by Bristol City Council and left to fall into the river…) and I am always in awe that this is one of my standard routes around the city.

It had rained for most of the day, and the light was spectacular, with more rain clouds overhead, with sunshine making clouds glow against the greys, if you looked in the right direction.

I have some photos in this flickr album – hopefully you can also make it work as a slideshow here…

Avon reflections

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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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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.

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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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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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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