Tag Archives: harbour

Another of Brunel’s Creations

As we walked back towards the docks in Bristol after going up to see the Clifton Suspension bridge, we crossed over to the other side of the locks that are at the end of the harbor.  There we came across another artifact of the industrial history of the city which I knew nothing of previously.  Since it is Bristol, no great shock that it was something that Brunel created.

This was an old swing bridge that would span the locks.  Apparently, it was in use for many years before being withdrawn when a modern bridge was built to supersede it in 1968.  It was close to being scrapped at that point but thankfully wasn’t.  Now it is sitting on the side of the lock while waiting to undergo restoration.    It certainly needs some work at this point, and it is strange to think that it was the main route across the locks for decades.

Bristol Docks

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.

Spinnaker Tower

A long time ago, as part of the redevelopment of the harbour at Portsmouth, a tower was built.  It is alongside the Gunwharf Quays development and rises above the waterfront providing a view across to the Isle of Wight and back to the South Downs.  The tower is shaped like a spinnaker from a yacht and so it is named Spinnaker Tower.  I have seen the tower on numerous occasions when taking the ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight.  However, I had never actually been up it.

On this trip, we had a lot of time to explore Portsmouth and I decided to go up the tower as part of the visit.  There are three visitor levels.  The main level is the lowest of the three (but still a decent height).  It has the most space and includes a glass floor section to allow you to look directly down.  The next level up is a little smaller and has a café.  The top level is smaller still and doesn’t really provide much the first level doesn’t have.  The windows are also angled in steeply which makes them more problematic for photography.

The view across the whole of the dockyard including the Victory and Mary Rose was great (although one is indoors and the other is currently under covers) and you could see across the Solent or back towards the city.  I really enjoy elevated viewing locations so this was a great place for me to spy on the world around me.


In the early 2000s, Nancy and I took a trip up to Yorkshire for a long weekend in February.  We were staying in Pickering and we got there just before a decent snow storm arrived.  By the time the snow started, we were comfortably tucked up in the hotel bar but the following day, any chance of going somewhere was out of the question as the town had temporarily been cut off by the snow.  The day after, the roads had been cleared and we took a drive north.

We ended up spending some time in Whitby.  A historic port town, Captain James Cook first went to see from there.  It has the ruins of an Abbey on the hill overlooking the harbor and the town rises from the water in a style you would expect of such an old English town to do.  We went to a really nice pub for lunch as a recall where we had excellent fish and chips – formulaic I know but still bloody good!  I scanned these images when making a surge through my old film shots so I thought I would go back about 20 years to something from the old country.

Cruising Out Under Lion’s Gate Bridge

Cruise ships are a regular feature of Vancouver Harbour.  Pacific Place has a terminal where two ships can be berthed at any one time.  One evening, as I was hanging out on Stanley Park, one of the ships set sail – presumably for a trip up to Alaska.  I watched it pass close by where I was and took a look at what I could see happening on the decks facing the shore (including one chap in a bathrobe on a rear balcony who probably didn’t think he was visible.  Then the ship headed out under the Lions Gate bridge as the sun was beginning to go down.

Portsmouth Harbour (It’s a British Harbor so the spelling is right)

wpid7776-C59F7873.jpgPete and I continued our flying excursion with a trip to Portsmouth.  We wanted to take a look at the forts out in the Solent since one of them would be part of our fun the following day.  However, we were also interested in seeing the dockyards at Portsmouth.  For those that don’t know Portsmouth, it is the home of the Royal Navy.  The Navy has been based there for centuries and it is still home to a substantial portion of the fleet – even if that is a lot smaller than it used to be.  There are also moorings for out of commission warships which is what we were actually interested in seeing.

wpid7778-C59F7880.jpgWe weren’t sure how open the airspace was to us.  The charts did not show any issue but we checked in with the radar service to tell them what we had in mind and they said it was no problem so we headed across.  Spinnaker Tower is a large structure that has been built as part of the redevelopment of the dock area.  We flew past it and checked out the moored old warships.  Then we did a loop around to see the docks themselves.  This includes HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar.  She looks great from above.  Next to her is the building housing the recovered wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship.  These are both worth visiting if you ever find yourself there.