Friday, 27 September 2013

End of the line

Moored in the floating harbour with masts of SS Great Britain behind us
Well, this is it. We've reached the end of the line on the Kennet & Avon. To be pedantic, we reached it earlier this morning when we passed through Hanham Lock, the gateway to the tidal River Avon and the official end/start of the K&A. From there to Bristol, where we are now, the waterway is under the control of Bristol Harbour - which, incidentally, is owned by Bristol City Council.
We had a relaxing couple of hours trip down the river to here. In the autumn sunlight the river is simply a delight; broad, deep, tree-lined and almost free from signs of human habitation away from the locks.
The harbour, by contrast, is huge, busy and full of life. It's called a 'floating harbour' not because it floats but because it's non-tidal, isolated from the tidal waters by lock gates. It was created 200 years ago when the original, tidal harbour was becoming increasingly silted up and difficult for shipping.
These days, commercial traffic has deserted Bristol,as it has many harbours. In its place have come waterside bars and restaurants, office blocks and the inevitable blocks of flats. However the dockside has enough traces of the old times in the shape of cranes, old craft, shunting trains and, of course, Brunel's SS Great Britain to give it a real atmosphere. It feels far more vibrant and alive than, say, Salford Quays or even Liverpool's restored dock areas.
A tight fit under the swing bridge to enter the main dock area
The visiting boater pays a hefty price for mooring here - £47 for two days - though for that you get lots of mooring pontoons, plenty of water points, the option of electric at most of them and - in our case - a vantage point right opposite the SS Great Britain. Tomorrow we will be taking the 80p ferry trip across the harbour to pay that a visit.

1 comment:

  1. The Port has its attractions ....but whilst in Bristol the view from the middle of the Suspension Bridge is just fantastic (and I can brag that I was there when SS GB was towed upstream). And whilst up on the downs a visit to Cabots Camera Obscure is worth the time to view. Enjoy.