13 Dec 2020
A long walk around Cliftonwood and Clifton with my friend Lisa, taking in some of the 12 Days of Christmas display at Queens Parade, picking up a take-away coffee from Pinkmans of Park Street, and poking our heads up against the glass of SS Peter and Paul Catholic Cathedral.
18 Dec 2020
Another work lunchtime, another expedition to get coffee, but not down any new road. The walk around the haroubourside was nicer than usual, though, possibly because the day was dull and rainy, which stopped the most boring bit of the walk also being crowded.
The most boring bit of the walk is the bit where you can't go through Underfall Yard, closed due to Covid-19, so have to divert through Avon Crescent to the bit of Cumberland Road where there's just a narrow pavement next to a high wall on the one side, and the railings next to the river, where there's no pavement so you generally don't get close enough to it to see much. There would be another option, the Chocolate Path, if it hadn't fallen into the river last year, but the repair work following that landslip is currently making things even worse by forcing a stretch of Cumberland Road into a traffic-light-controlled single-lane system. This means that the narrow pavement is hard to escape as traffic could be coming past right next to you in either direction.
So, narrow, boring, plus it's not just my natural introversion that's causing me not to want to be forced into close contact with other people at the moment, of course. Maybe this will become my go-to coffee place on rainy days, just because there are fewer people on the streets.
Only a couple of photos today, and none of the boring bit, because I didn't know I was going to want to talk about it here until I got home!
06 Jan 2021
The International Grotto Directory website says:
Prince’s Lane might have been one of the original ancient tracks from Hotwells to Clifton, in the Avon Gorge. The site later formed part of Rownham Woods which comprised some thirteen acres. By the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century, the Society of Merchant Venturers granted to Samuel Powell a building lease, for The Colonnade (1786), St. Vincent’s Parade (1790), Prince’s Buildings (1796), and Rock House. Rock House is generally considered to be the oldest surviving building associated with the Hotwell (see Chapter 20). John Power conveyed part of the woods to William Watts for the construction of Windsor Terrace (1790-1808).
The above development of the Avon Gorge cleared Rownham Woods, and created a triangle of land on the north side of the gorge, that became enclosed as a result, by Mansion Houses, whose garden walls all entered on to Prince’s Lane. The Lane started at the bottom of the gorge, at the base rock of Windsor Terrace, and came out half way up Sion Hill. It is clearly shown as a public footpath, dotted with trees, in Ashmead’s map of 1828. Some of the gardens were quite steep in parts and therefore, had to be terraced, because of the gradient of the gorge.
I've passed Prince's Lane literally thousands of times in my life, every time I've walked past the Avon Gorge Hotel, which itself started (in 1898) as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution and pumped water up from the Hot Well for its hydropathic treatments. I've never actually ventured down it until today, or at least nothing like as far down it as I did this afternoon—I may have poked my head around the back of the hotel to see the original pump rooms at some point in the past.
This was a great wander, though it does very much feel like a private road, and frankly I may have been pushing my luck a bit by winding my way between the astoundingly big back gardens of the houses of some presumably very wealthy Cliftonites, but I felt vaguely justified in exploring the history of one of the oldest footpaths in my part of Bristol...
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
It's the home of the Avon Wildlife Trust now, but back in the day it was Brandon Hill Police Station. It's marked on maps as recent as the 1950s Bristol Town Plans. An interesting tidbit from Bristol Then and Now on Facebook:
One of the first police stations in Bristol, it was opened in 1836 - policemen from the station used the building housing the Jacob's Well as a bicycle store and many old bicycle lamp batteries were found in excavating the small entrance to the mikveh. The Police Station closed in 1967 and it is now the base of Avon Wildlife Trust.
I noticed I'd missed a bit of Circular Road and Ladies Mile, and it was a nice evening for a sunset wander up to Clifton. There was something I recorded along the way, not photographically but in video.
Bristol Zoo, the world's oldest provincial zoo, has recently decided to close its Clifton site after 185 years of occupation, which means that the sounds of wild animals will no longer drift incongruously through this leafy Georgian area. They're moving everything up to their existing second site, The Wild Place Project near Cribbs Causeway. As I was wandering the Downs, I heard some fierce roaring noises, so I decided to see if I could get a little closer while they were still going on and record a sound that's soon to disappear.
I don't have a way yet to put video directly on this site, so here's a link to the video of my attempt to catch a bit of the zoo noises that I just popped on YouTube. It's sad that this might be the last time I hear such noises in Clifton.
The Very Special Wildflower Meadow hasn't got any flower in it yet, that I could see. But I suppose it's only April.
10 Jul 2021
Lisa had a couple of hours to spare before going up in a hot air balloon (exciting!) so we went for a quick local walk, revisiting a bit of Cliftonwood we've seen before, exploring the secret garden I'd visited before that I thought she'd enjoy (I didn't take any new photos there) and then pushing on to another garden, Cherry Garden. Last time we passed this way, I'd noticed the gate, but we hadn't gone in as I'd assumed it was private. I'd since found it on CHIS's list of communal gardens in Clifton, so I wanted to have a look inside this time, and try to figure out whether it was private-communal or public, and possibly Council-owned, like several of the other gardens in Clifton.
This is tacked up in the entrance to St Peter's House. This was once the location of St Peter's Church, demolished in 1938 to make way for the flats.
I imagine Woodwell Cottage and Avon Cottage might be quite hard to find for delivery drivers, so they've provided an extra hint.
31 Oct 2020
Starting up close in Hotwells with a few bits around the Cumberland Basin flyover system, I walked to Bedminster and back on Hallowe'en, including finding some excellent decoration work.
12 Mar 2022
There's a few tracks in Leigh Woods that lie within my mile and show up on my map but that I've not walked yet, so I decided to take one of my traditional big long walks through the woods on this nice crisp sunny morning.
For years—decades, even—I've been doing a similar route from my place, along the towpath to the far woods entrance, up the hill for a varied walk on one of the marked tracks and then across the Suspension Bridge to Clifton Village for a coffee-based reward. It's my default "long walk", really, and I almost always enjoy it. Today, at last, spring actually seemed to be springing, which made for some extra positivity...
"Swing bridge machinery by Sir William Arrol & Co. Ltd": Sir William was knighted for his commitment to his work on both the Forth Bridge and the replacement Tay Bridge, erected following the loss of the previous bridge in the great Tay Bridge Disaster. He was also responsible for knocking up some other little bridges around the country, like london's Tower Bridge, to pick an example...
My friend Sarah made a podcast episode about Sylvia Crowe (credited bottom right on the plaque) and her development of the landscape in this area, with Wendy Tippett, a local landscape architect. It's a great listen if you're familiar with the area, and explains all sorts of things, including the PPILA after Sylvia Crowe's name on the plaque: Past President, Institute of Landscape Artists.
01 Dec 2020
Unfortunately by the time I got to Greville Smyth Park I was already about halfway through my lunch-hour, and the queue was too long to wait to actually get a coffee. Is that a fruitless excursion? Presumably a coffee bean is technically a fruit...
This kind of vague musing was sadly overshadowed by my delay at Ashton Avenue Bridge on the way back, where someone—hopefully still a someone, rather than a body—was being stretchered up the bank of the river, presumably having just been rescued from the water. As I made my way home the long way around, avoiding the cordoned-off area at the back of the CREATE centre and its car park, I saw an ambulance haring across the Plimsoll Bridge, siren running, presumably on its way to the BRI. I'd like to think that was a good sign.