When we lived in the UK, Nancy and I spent a weekend in Bristol as part of a visit to the balloon fiesta that is held there (or at least it was then – I don’t know whether it is still a big event or not). As part of that visit, we did head up to Clifton which sits on the hills overlooking the center of Bristol. The area is most famous for the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the gorge in which the River Avon runs. Built by engineers based on a design that Brunel had originally proposed, it is quite a structure although the movement you feel in it as you walk across it is a little unsettling.
As you walk along the river from the harbor, you come around to get a good view from the underside of the bridge high above. We walked up this way to get a little closer and I accepted the cloudy day for what it was and got some photos of the bridge. You are walking along the river but also a rather busy road so it isn’t the most relaxing way to spend some time. However, I did get a view from below to match the ones from above from our previous trip.
I have seen countless RVs on the highway with a small vehicle hooked on the back. Having something more usable when you get to your destination makes a lot of sense. What about if you have a boat? How are you going to get around when you reach your next port? Why, bring a car with you of course! This ship was in the harbour at Bristol while we were visiting. The car was sitting on the deck, ready for use whenever it was needed!
When I am chatting with my sister, she often mentions her trips to Bristol for work. While talking with her one weekend, I pulled up the map of Bristol to see where the office is that she goes to. As I looked around the area, I realized that the docks area of Bristol looked really interesting and is somewhere that I haven’t explored before. When it seemed that we would have one free day while in the UK and the Bristol was only about 90 minutes away, we decided to pay it a visit.
The weather was not as cooperative as we might have hoped but it was just about okay and we headed off. We parked up right in the middle of the docks area so were able to start exploring straight away. There was a ton to see and there will be more blog posts that cover some of the specific aspects of the area. This is more of an introduction post. The docks are connected to the River Avon but, as I discovered while we walked around, the river is very tidal and the docks are only functional because the access is via locks. This allows the maintenance of a decent water level in the port.
We wandered around the docks for quite a while. There are commercial vessels, some small remaining boatyards, lots of pleasure craft and all of the ancillary businesses that support them. The docks boomed in the 1800s after the construction of the current configuration at the beginning of that century. The docks are along the original Avon course but, once the locks were created to maintain the water level, a new cut was made for the river south of the docks to connect up with the river course upstream. Consequently the river flows normally without the docks being affected.
The housing up on the hills overlooking the docks might be similarly old but they seem to be painted up in a variety of colors to provide quite a cheerful appearance on what would otherwise be rather dull architecture. One thing about Bristol that you can’t ignore is the terrain. There is low lying ground near the river and docks but the hills rising up are steep and you certainly notice it when you start walking around. This means that rows of houses are visible from the docks as they are layered up the side of the hills.