A long ramble, starting with trying to find the Hot Well of Hotwells and leading up the side of the Avon Gorge to the Downs and then through Clifton for coffee.
I bought a vintage post card from eBay this week. It's a well-known photo of the Hotwells landing stage, showing what's likely to be a P&A Campbell paddle steamer moored there. (Just yesterday I snapped a photo of their buoy on display at Underfall Yard with its information sign.) It was posted from here to Canada in 1936, and has now returned via a presumably quite circuitous route.
For tens of thousands of people, the pier at Hotwells was the starting point of their day trip as they boarded steamers with names like Glen Avon, Glen Usk and Britannia. The salty tang of the sea was never far away as the steamers headed for Ilfracombe, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead on the Devon and Somerset coast and Barry, Porthcawl and Tenby in South Wales.
The landing stage is long-abandoned. A variety of economic issues, including fuel prices, the increasing prevalence of the motor car, the construction of the Severn Crossing giving easier access to Wales, and the collapse of Clevedon Pier during safety testing in 1970, which prevented larger pleasure boats from stopping at the resort, all led to dwindling trade.
I went to have a poke about there today, not staying for long as it's a cold day and the wind was biting. I couldn't reproduce the postcard's view—you'd need to risk life, limb and presumably a trespass prosecution—but I did try to judge the rough viewpoint and angle of the photo by lining up with Rock House, the Colonnade and the Suspension Bridge and snapped a photo looking back to where the original photographer would have stood on the pontoon.
This Bristol City Docks history page has many good photos of the landing stage and the nearby Port and Pier Railway line (whose tunnel I was in the other day) and the Hotwells Halt railway station, which was just the other side of the suspension bridge from here.
Well, I think that's what it says.
Not sure what the gap was for, or what the metal bridge-like-thingy that's gently rusting into the water was for, either.
You can see Rock House and the Colonnade clearly in the postcard.
On closer inspection, this looks similar, but not the same as the lamp posts in the picture.
I think this roughly lines up with the viewpoint in the picture. You can just see the suspension bridge stanchion in about the right place behind the tree above the Colonnade.
I wasn't going to take a very long walk on this nice spring evening; it just happened. I was going to knock off a path or two on Brandon Hill, home over centuries to hermits and windmills, cannons and Chartists, and then just wander home, stopping only to fill up my milk bottle at the vending machine in the Pump House car park.
However, when I heard a distant gas burner I stayed on the hill long enough to see if I could get a decent photo of both the hot air balloon drifting over with Cabot Tower in the same frame (spoiler: I couldn't. And only having the fixed-focal-length Fuji with me didn't help) and then, on the way home, bumped into my "support bubble", Sarah and Vik, and extended my walk even further do creep carefully down the slipway next to the old paddle steamer landing stage and get some photos from its furthest extreme during a very low tide...
17 Jan 2022
This was basically the quick lunchtime jaunt I tried to do at the beginning of January, only this time I actually managed to get to roughly the viewpoint I'd been hoping for to recreate a historical photo of the Bristol International Exhibition.
I did this walk about a month ago, but I've been a bit poorly and not really up to doing much in my spare time, and it's taken me this long to even face processing even these few photos. Hopefully normal service will be resumed at some point and I can carry on trying to walk any roads and paths that I need to do to make this project feel complete...
The Colonnade, the Rock House, St Vincent's Parade and the old landing stages for Cambpell's paddle steamers. The leftover fruit of bygone boom years.
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...
I've always enjoyed the optical illusion that these houses are on stilts from this angle. In fact there's the Hotwell Road the National Express coach is on in between the houses at the back and the disused landing stage at the front, as you'll see in the next pic of the adjacent terrace.
The Campbell Brothers' White Funnel Fleet operated from the Hotwells landing stage up until relatively recently. Last week I bought an old timetable on eBay and popped it up on my blog for anyone who might be interested.
In 1965, the year of the timetable, there were regular sailings from here along the coast or over to Wales. You could go to Ilfracombe and Lundy Island, or head across to Barry, Penarth or Cardiff. All from within five minutes' walk of my front door.