On Thursday evening we arrived in the Floating Harbour at Bristol. Since an extra license is required to enter the port of Bristol, for the purposes of cost saving we had left ‘Futurest’ at the visitor moorings back in Hanham and had brought ‘Roots and Wings’ only on this passage. But before tying up at our moorings we took the boat on a complete tour of the harbour, which included entering the large Cumberland Basin, designed by Isambard Brunel and built by the Great Western Steamship Company to accommodate the vastness of their new passenger ship ‘SS Great Britain’. Of course our little ship was completely dwarfed in the hugeness of the area but it did mean that we were able to navigate with no difficulty, right up to the final lock gate, that led ships onto the tidal River Avon and then turn around with ease before completing our tour. We were able to touch the ancient steel of the gate and finally reach the end of the Kennett and Avon Canal after entering it at Reading more than two months before.
Reflections on a misty evening at Bathampton
…. and on another equally as beautiful sunny evening
‘Futurest’ looking lonely as we left for Bristol
Though there is no handling of cargo any more the area is still very busy with leisure boats, and tourists flock every day into the area in their thousands to visit the old warehouses that have now been changed into pubs. In 1970 the SS Great Britain’ was returned to the Floating Harbour, to the very dry dock in which she was born in 1843 and has over the years since been restored from a rotting hulk into how she must have looked at her birth. This dockyard was busy with tourists inspecting the ship, the shop and of course the café on the day that Janis and I too decided to visit.
Our Skipper in front of the ‘SS Great Britain’
…. and the Cabin Boy
The northern arm to the harbour, where we moored to a pontoon, looking more as if it had been used at one time as a short commercial dock, is apparently all that now remains of the navigable River Frome that for some distance inland was the busiest part of the harbour in Medieval times. At the head of this waterway, today barely one hundred yards from the entrance is an ornamental fountain and a shallow waterfall down some low steps; all that remains of its rich ancient heritage and on either side the warehouses have all been turned into busy thriving pubs and restaurants.
On the Thursday evening we met Rupert my elder son and entertained him and a friend Chris aboard to one of Janis’s sumptuous fish pies. They seemed to enjoy it as much as I did and it was great to see my son again.
Leaving Hanham for Bath
Quiet reflections on the River Avon
And now we are on the way back. We arrived at the river moorings here in Bath close to Sainsbury’s Supermarket yesterday evening and tomorrow we shall continue our journey east up the flight of locks onto the canal again bound for Devizes, Newbury and Reading.
The Circus at Bath
Theoretically anyway, we should take considerably less time on the way back than we did on the way out as we have already seen and experienced all that we have considered necessary.