Sunday, 5 July 2015

Will we or won't we make it under Prince Street Bridge?

Friday 26th June
Bristol to Bath

15.5 miles, 7 locks, 1 swing bridge

Off again this morning and the first challenge was that bridge!  Would we make it?   

We had decided to err on the side of caution and we had requested that it be swung for us at 09:30.  Were they on time?  Yes - two arrived by boat

They got to work - joined by a 'third man' from I know not where


They stopped the traffic and pedestrians

And on the dot of 09:30 we went through

Closely followed by nb Cleddau

We think we might have made it, but it would have been tight, so better safe than sorry.  Next stop would be Bath, but before we left the floating harbour we noticed this boat with very unusual shaped port holes

And this photo - to be honest I have no real idea what I was aiming for, but the sign on the boat got me thinking - 'Walking the Chains' - what was that all about?  Well this particular sign was advertising a comedy performance that took place in January 2015, so we were a little late for that. But it prompted further research.

The chains that it refers to are the ones on the Clifton Suspension Bridge - the entertainment website suggests that in the past those wishing to work on the bridge construction were asked to 'walk the chains' without a safety harness to see if they had a head for heights!  Amazingly only two men were killed in the construction of the bridge.  It also made me wonder how you connect the two sides of a suspension bridge.  If you are curious then have a look HERE.  There is a rather charming tale that we were told on our bus tour the day before and is well documented on the web about a young lady called Sarah Henley.  In 1885, as a result of a broken engagement, she decided to end it all and she jumped from the bridge.  She was wearing a very fully skirt which filled with wind which then acted as a parachute to help slow down her descent.  It also altered the course of her fall such that she ended up in soft mud rather than the water.  She was rescued and taken to hospital where she made a full recovery. The internet says she did not break any bones, the tour guide said she did, so make up your own mind which is true.  She eventually married and lived to the age of 85.

Netham Lock took us off the tidal Avon (there are occasions when spring tides can be felt as far as Keynsham, but it was all very benign for us) onto the ‘Bristol Avon’ (as opposed to the Warwickshire Avon).  We sailed straight through as the lock was open.  The stretch from Bristol to Bath is new to Chris and I and we had no idea what to expect.  It is pretty, but there are not too many landmarks.



Hanham Lock, where despite what the 2015 Pearson's guide says there are no facilities apart from a badly positioned tap!  The book promises rubbish and elsan disposal - good job we both have composting loos and were not in dire need.  


Saltford Lock - note the brollies are out


Kelston Round Hill is a constant companion once you reach Saltford Lock

It is very bendy in places

There were things of interest to be seen, but for this first one you will have to take my word for it.  In the pink circle is a pig! There were two of them rooting around in the wood, but I was alone on the helm and by the time I had scrabbled for the camera they had moved.  But I promise you there were there and not flying in the sky!!
 

This is Somerdale Chocolate Works - the last Cadbury's Double Decker came off the production line in 2011 - production has moved to Poland

We spotted this London bus complete with chimney, so we assume it is someone's home

These spikes were new to me

Used to prop the gates open - they were not actually needed, but I had to try them out!  The top lock at Hanbury has wooden posts to stop the gates swinging shut (definitely needed) - this is a more permanent solution.  Not so easy to steal, drop or vandalise.

This is the remains of a brass mill at Saltford Lock

A very elegant bridge called 'New Bridge' - built in 1734!  It carries the A4 across the river
 And so our journey to Bath continued - we met a couple of boats waiting to go up the locks as we went down and passed a couple more, but it was on the whole, an uneventful, serene journey, marked mostly by the first rain we had seen since Worcester.

We were hoping to moor at the Sainsbury 24 moorings in Bristol, but we missed them, despite the amount of space!

I think this sign put us off

You have to be on the tow path to see Sainsburys

But once you get up there it is a big one
If you want a serious shop use the 24 hour moorings and go across the bridge - it should be possible to take your trolley back to the boat and the trolley park is on the same side of the river as the moorings.  There is also a Homebase tucked away behind the car and trolley park.

We ended up on the railings just before the turn off to the Kennet and Avon Canal - not the best of views


but slightly better the other way, it was safe, quiet and also closer to the centre of Bath, which was important to us.

As ever Monty and I went off exploring and found this park a few minutes away from the boats on the way to Sainsburys.  Plenty of space to run and play



So why did we want to be close to the city centre?  We had hoped to have a couple of days in Bath and then moor at Hilperton Marina for our 10 days at home, but there was no space, so we had to get our heads down and go for it to be at Caen Hill Marina by Sunday night.  So one night only in Bath and if that is all you have then the following is a 'must see'.



It is a one man comedy entertainment around the streets of Bath.  I will say no more - just make sure it is on your itinerary - worth every penny of the £8 we paid!

This was the sky on our return to the boats, so hopefully finer weather tomorrow.


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