Thursday, 2 July 2015

Portishead to Bristol and a trip round the Floating Harbour

Wednesday 24th June 2015
Portishead to Bristol Floating Harbour
9 miles, 2 locks


As always Monty’s needs come first, so he and I headed off first thing for a look around.  We had been for a short stroll the night before, so knew where we were heading for.  Past the marina office towards the estuary, past this which I discovered is called 'Ship to Shore' by Jon Buck.  From a small amount of research it looks as though the houses in the next photo (first part of our walk) were built on the site of Portishead Radio Station, hence 'Ship to Shore'.  


First we went past these houses with this horse(?) beside them which I assume is something to do with the history of the area.  It got nicer as we went along and finally we found the coast path, but too late to do it justice.  There was a time slot for the lock, so we could not risk being left behind.

Back to the boats (check out those balconies) and ready for the off - as we untied the ropes three cruisers shot past us

 and were first in the lock along with a lifeboat - the first and probably the last time we will ever share a lock with a working RNLI lifeboat.

There were two more cruisers behind us who were off out on a fishing trip

The lifeboat went ahead of us on her way to St Ives where she is to be based.  They were an interesting crew to chat to, but we hoped we would not see them or any of their colleagues on our trip to Bristol.

We were the last out of the lock and made it safely past the end of the jetty (keep well in) and out into the estuary.

This is where we were heading for

Chris was at the helm today

The Severn Bridges in the distance, but we did not have to go that far today

There are the Pepper Pots

We both turned in and kept to the jetty, so no danger of ending up on the mud

Past Bristol VTS (Vessel Traffic Service - the marine version of Air Traffic Control).  From way out in the estuary yesterday it looked like a cardboard box.

Under the M5

Today's wildlife - the ever solitary heron

Past a rather sad graveyard for ships high above the mud

The Portishead Cruising Club

A small marina waiting for the tide to come in

A house built in 1569

And this house - we think we know who lives here - I am sure we will be told if we are wrong?

Just to prove I do exist!

 Suddenly you are in the gorge

And then you are rewarded with this wonderful sight - The Clifton Suspension Bridge.

We were told later in our visit to Bristol that the two towers were built in Brunel's lifetime, but the join was not done until after his death.


Arriving by boat has to beat coming by car - time to enjoy the views around you, no queues or traffic jams.

We assume there is some sort of cave system that allows access to this viewing platform, but I have not been able to find any information.  If anyone knows, please tell all.

We arrived at the lock

And The Pride of Bristol and trip boat Bagheera came out.

In we went and for those who are not familiar with the use of such large locks.  The boats have to be secured at the stern and the bow.  A rope is lowered for the boat crew to attach their rope to, that is then pulled up, the boat rope threaded through the loop and then lowered back to the crew member. The sides are much too high to throw ropes up which is the normal method for securing them!


For us, however, it was much easier - we just had to tie ourselves to nb Cleddau.

Out of the lock and under 'Brunel's Other Bridge'!

And into the Floating Harbour.  It was bigger than I had ever imagined and hard to think that it is over 200 years old.

Then suddenly ahead of us was this - The Matthew, but more about her another day

The coloured houses dominate the harbour

Before we knew it we were by SS Great Britain - we had been told to moor opposite her.

Our moorings - more balconies and some are really serious ones and the views are pretty good too.

Once we were settled we had to head off to find the Harbour Master's office to pay our dues

The best way was by ferry.  This one went from beside our moorings, but just went across to the other side at 80p a person.  The mooring mechanism was clever - the metal ring at the back left just slipped over the post and all was secure.

Once on the other side we needed to get another ferry to the office.  A decision to be made - do we pay for a return or take a day ticket at £5 each (concessions one and all), go to the Harbour Master's office and then explore the whole harbour. The latter won the day and we took four more ferries - no 3 and no 5 were, in fact, the same ferry.

The reason for changing so many times was Prince Street Bridge - only ferry 4 can get under it.  The question we asked ourselves was - would we make it under, particularly us as Tentatrice is rather high at the bow.

There are these rival ferries to the yellow ones, but I have no idea how much they charge.  At the end of our trip ferry 5 dropped us off right by our boats, so saving another 80p each to get back across from SS Great Britain.

 The floating harbour is a busy place with sailing lessons going on which included capsize drill, rowers with their training boat, canoes and the occasional sailing boat.
More things of interest were this boat - possibly unique paintwork (?), the windows on the second boat are all made from TV screens and the final picture is a mural that is worth looking at.

Then there are the signs of its industrial past

The trip round the harbour was well worth doing and made a great way to end our trip from Sharpness to Bristol.

2 comments:

  1. A couple of great posts, enjoyed those good pictures to.
    Cheers for sharing .

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ade - glad you enjoyed the posts and pictures.

    ReplyDelete