05 Nov 2020
I spotted the fog and decided to go for a morning walk rather than a lunchtime walk today. It was cold on the Portway, but it was worth it. Most of my One Mile Matt photos are "record shots", but it's nice to get the chance to do something a bit more artistic.
24 Jan 2021
I started this wander with my "support bubble" Sarah and Vik, after Sarah texted me to say "SNOW!" We parted ways on the towpath and I headed up into the bit of Leigh Woods that's not actually the woods—the village-like part in between Leigh Woods and Ashton Court, where I'd noticed on a map a church I'd not seen before. I found St Mary the Virgin and quite a few other things I'd never experienced, despite having walked nearby them many, many times over many years, including a castellated Victorian water tower that's been turned into a house...
There's something quite pleasant about being able to walk to a different county. I've always liked passing the sign.
In EH Young's Chatterton Square, Rosamund describes a similar escape-to-the-countryside feeling when crossing the Suspension Bridge and heading for "Monks' Pool", which surely must be Abbot's Pool at Abbots Leigh in real life. I've actually swum there, I think the only time I've been "wild swimming" in the UK.
Houses in this street seem to go for a million quid each at least...
There's a lot of GARDENS here and they're very PRIVATE
Between them, the old signs on the left and right pillar say ROWNHAM LODGE, but the modern metal sign says Rownham House. Are these the gates for both, or has it changed names?
Someone's been out in Yaktrax. I have a pair myself, but I reserve them for worse days, like when the previous day/week's slush has re-frozen on the hills around here. Otherwise I might not be able to leave the street...
Some kind of electrical marker, I think -- BCED is most likely to be Bristol Corporation Electricity Department. Probably an underground cable marker.
...so let's give it a try
14 Mar 2021
An enormous walk today, or at least it felt enormous. My feet are sore, anyway. I started off recreating a couple of local historical photos in Hotwells, but then headed for my traditional walk along the towpath in the Avon Gorge to the far extreme of Leigh Woods, up and through the woods to the height of the Suspension Bridge, finally crossing into Clifton Village for a well-deserved vanilla latte.
I say "traditional" because this used to be a very regular route for me, first walking, years and years ago, and later jogging—this route combined with a circuit of the Downs on the other side used to be my way of making sure I was fit to do a half-marathon (I did six of them in total, between 2010 and 2014).
I miss the routine of this walk, even though it's a long way and it used to pretty much wipe me out when I did it—I'd come back home and collapse and do very little for the rest of the day. But perhaps that's what Sundays are for, and I should try to remember that.
Doing this walk regularly was quite a meditative experience. Not so much of that today, but once I got to the further extreme of the towpath, where the roar of the Portway traffic on the other side of the river dwindles and I turned into Leigh Woods to climb ever closer to birdsong and further from rushing cars, I did seem to recapture a little of the feeling of previous walks. (I would say my mind cleared, but I was mentally singing along to Life Without Buildings' The Leanover for most of the wander. There are worse songs to have stuck in one's head, though; it's a great track...)
Anyway. Apparently the walk made me more likely to ramble in words, too. I'll stop now :)
Looking increasingly misused.
I love the terracing between the back of Rock House/the Colonnade and the heights of Clifton
The roofed area below the Suspension Bridge is called The Gallery; it's there to prevent rocks from the particularly friable cliff face below the bridge from falling onto the Portway. It's also the rough former location of the Hotwells Halt railway station on the Port Railway and Pier, built in 1917 to handle the large number of wartime munitions workers travelling out to Avonmouth.
25 Mar 2021
I was honestly just about to do the homework from my oh-so-thrilling ITIL course when my friends Sarah and Vik asked me if I'd like to come out for a wander down the towpath with them. I enjoyed the company, the evening light and the delicate clouds.
The boat formerly known as Shadow.
...in a tree on the towpath to Pill.
Of various kinds
For some reason, I'm reminded of Cheradenine Zakalwe.
19 Jun 2021
I hadn't really planned to go out for a wander yesterday; I just got the urge and thought "why not?" (Well, the weather forecast was one possible reason, but I managed to avoid the rain, luckily.)
I wanted to finish off the A369—as it turns out I may still have a small section to go, but I've now walked the bulk of it out to my one-mile radius—and also a few random tracks in Leigh Woods. I'm still not really sure that I'm going to walk them all, especially after discovering today that "the map is not the territory" applies even more in the woods, where one of the marked tracks on the map wasn't really that recognisable as a track in real life... I'm glad I'd programmed the route into the GPS in advance!
Anyway. A pleasant enough walk, oddly bookended, photographically at least, by unusual vehicles. Leigh Woods was fairly busy, especially the section I'd chosen, which was positively dripping with teenage schoolkids with rah accents muttering opprobrium about the Duke of Edinburgh. I'm presuming the harsh remarks were more about taking part in his award scheme than the late Consort himself, but I didn't eavesdrop enough to be certain...
I don't think I've ever been next to these tracks when a train's gone down. I've sometimes seen it from the other side of the river, though. You can read a bit about the nearby disused station here; this used to be a passenger line, but it's freight-only now.
The local taggers showing their respect for the environment...
At some point I should dig back through my photos and see if I snapped this frame when it was first left locked to these railings as a full, complete bike.
It was the decoration on the end of the wall that caught my eye.
It caught my eye not just because I've been here before—there's a lovely house just up the hill which I think may itself be called Bannerleigh House—but also because the recent University-based wander I went on with Lisa also had a Bannerleigh.
A little housing estate I've snapped before. I think it's an alternative spelling of "Fowey". Which frankly, being actually phonetic, should probably be the actual spelling.
It does exactly what it says on the tin.
The economy seems to be booming in the area of big houses for rich people, at least.
New roof, I'm guessing.
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.
The towpath is a lovely stroll in weather like this. Waterproof walking shoes help, though, as the puddles are often wide enough to span the entire width. I baptised my new walking shoes on this trip.
This is probably the most popular spot to take photos of the bridge from this direction. I'd guess the large majority of photos of the Suspension Bridge are taken from the other side.
There are several ways into Leigh Woods along the towpath, all underneath bridges of the Portishead branch line that runs above.
At the one before this, which is normally locked and leads into a disused police shooting range, a woman beckoned me over to where she was standing with her bike, looking through the gates. "I think I've found your best shot today," she said Sadly, the very wide lens on the camera would have made any picture of the young deer that was standing in the sunlit distance a bit rubbish, so I contented myself with a few moments just looking at the scene.
One of the things you learn as you improve as a photographer is when not to bother trying to take a photo because you can't do it justice, and to just be in the moment and enjoy it instead.
There's been a lot of logging in Leigh Woods recently. Some of it is to control Ash Dieback, some of it to make way for the reintroduction of native trees.
03 Jun 2022
I managed to go for a wander a while ago that was meant to finish off a little tangle of paths in Leigh Woods, or at the very least finish off my wandering of the Purple Path there. And I managed to miss doing either of those things through some kind of navigational incompetence.
Today I woke up with a bit of a headache, feeling a bit knackered as soon as I dragged myself out of bed, but at least with the energy to realise that I'd be better off (a) going for a walk in what looked likely to be the last of the Jubilee weekend sunshine than (b) moping around the flat until it started raining, at which point I could mope more thoroughly.
I had a look at my map, considered going to Ashton Court, but remembered that there was a music festival there today, and instead found these little leftovers of Leigh Woods and decided to have one more try at walking them.
I rarely come in this way to Leigh Woods—it's basically the car entrance, and I almost always walk here. On those few occasions I've driven here, I've mostly parked on North Road near my usual pedestrian entrance through sheer habit, rather than driving in and using the official car park that's actually in the woods.
I decided to make sure to cover the whole of the little pocket of paths I was targeting by pre-programming a route into my GPS, and following its instructions to go from point to point. The start of my path is nearly due east from here, and less than a kilometre away.
This will not be the most interesting of walks—it's just some fairly enclosed paths in a forest—so there won't be too many photos...
If it's rained for a few days in a row in Leigh Woods, some of the lower paths can get pretty muddy; in some past years I've even had to turn back and find another route, given that I mostly just wear ankle-high walking shoes. Today wasn't too bad.
I'm sure we've seen this cycle path named in the Bristolian dialect before.
Nearing the start of the little network of tracks I want to navigate.
Luckily I don't want to go down there.
I guess it's been a bit windy since the last time I was up this way.
There's a viewpoint "Quarry 5 Viewpoint" marked somewhere along here on OpenStreetMap. I think pretty much all the viewpoints on this stretch have gradually been overcome by forest growth. Here you can just make out the cliffs on the far side of the gorge through trees.
At this point I had gone back and forth a fair bit, following my little satnav pointer, including heading down a couple of paths only to come straight back up them once I was sure I'd completed the un-done parts of the track.
I was a little weird, following this complicated little route. I felt a bit like a bee doing the waggle dance, or something.
Possibly fenced off to stop people trying to clamber or mountain bike over it and cause more damage before it can be rebuilt?