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...
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.
I went out simply wanting to knock off the very last little unwalked section of Clanage Road, over by Bower Ashton, which has been annoying me for a while as it's quite close by and I've walked the other bits of it several times. So, my plan was to nip over to Greville Smyth Park via a slightly unusual route to wander Clanage Road and tick it off.
Along the way, though, I inevitably got a bit distracted. I took a few photos of Stork House, a grand Hotwell Road building that's recently been done up a bit (I imagine it's student lets, though I'm not sure) and which I found a reference to in a book about the Port Railway and Pier the other week, and also tried to match up a historical photo of Hotwells before the Cumberland Basin Flyover System laid it waste, which included some interesting markers I'll have to do a bit more digging into...
Can you tell the towpath is popular with cyclists?
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.