Bath to Bristol – 6th August 2019

We realized that after we had moored up last night that we were actually right beside a storm outlet drain which wasn’t probably the wisest place to be. There was no rain forecast overnight and there were no other suitable moorings so we decided to take a risk – Lady Luck was on our side.

Being back on a river which does have some flow meant we were at warp speed careening towards Bristol. There is significant tidal flow on this part of the river of at least a metre and it was with us as we went down stream.

We continued to have very large locks to deal with during the day and this particular one had a huge log floating just in front of the boat. To save disappointment Fras decided it would be better for him to remove it from the lock as it could do significant damage to the lock gates or the boat. By now it was raining fairly hard but with two umbrellas to stayed relatively dry. It was more important to keep Toque dry as there is nothing worse than a wet dog in a confined space such as a narrow boat!!

We made excellent time and were at Netham Lock by 2.00pm. Once through this lock you are no longer under Canal and River Trust jurisdiction and you now come under the Bristol Port Authority where they have their own rules and charges. It is costing us £56 to stay for two nights down in the harbour which is rather exorbitant. This does not include any power plug in – that is an additional charge and when we went to ask for a £2 card it seemed rather convenient that they only had £10 cards available. We had been told by a few people that the most you would need would be about a £1 a night for electricity usage. We decided we would just run the engine for the day we will not be motoring.

We only had about half an hours cruising from the lock down into the harbour so rather than go straight to our mooring we cruised right to the very end of the harbour just before the lock gates that take you up the tidal estuary where only the big boys play.

In the early 19th century a new enclosed harbour was built to eradicate difficulties involved in loading and unloading vessels at the mercy of the River Avon’s considerable tides. Trade ceased in this Floating Harbour in the 1970’s but there are still a lot of remnants of a bygone era where you can see this was once a very vibrant port.

This magnificent replica is of The Matthew. This ship will be of interest to the Canadian blog followers. The Matthew sailed by John Cabot in 1497 from Bristol to North America, presumably Newfoundland. After a voyage which had got no further than Iceland, Cabot left again with only one vessel, the Matthew, a small ship (50 tons), but fast and able. The crew consisted of only 18 men. The Matthew departed either 2 May or 20 May 1497. He sailed to Dursey Head, Ireland, from where he sailed due west, expecting to reach Asia. However, landfall was reached in North America on 24 June 1497. His precise landing place is a matter of much controversy, with Cape Bonavista or St. John’s in Newfoundland the most likely sites.

This is the SS Great Britain, a museum ship and former passenger steamship, which was advanced for her time. She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Brunel (1806–1859), for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, the Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days. Great Britain later carried thousands of immigrants to Australia from 1852 until being converted to all-sail in 1881.

When we were travelling on the northern canals back in 2016 we were constantly referring to Brindley who made his canals along the contours of the land and Telford who was much more of a rip roar and bust guy who was into straight canals, aqueducts, tunnels and locks. Here in the south we seem to be hearing a lot more about Brunel who was a man a long way ahead of his time when it came to engineering. Whilst we are in an educational mode we would like to introduce you to Isambard Kingdom Brunel FRS (9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859).  He was such a prolific mechanical and civil engineer who is considered “one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history”, “one of the 19th-century engineering giants”, and “one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions”. Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels (Thames River). His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering. His achievements make for very interesting reading.

2 thoughts on “Bath to Bristol – 6th August 2019

  1. Hi guys,

    After you arrived at the floating harbour we hope you agree with our recommendation about going the whole way west and not to turn around in Bath. Isn’t it magical, to cruise with a little nutshell in this historical port?

    Have a safe journey back from the most distant point of your 2019 adventure.

    Love from Wolfgang & Marlene

    Von meinem iPad gesendet



    1. Hi guys, we actually went out under the Clifton Suspension Bridge for about 45 minutes this morning with another narrowboat after talking to the Harbour Master and getting instruction. Tomorrow’s blog will go into detail for you. It was fantastic and you are right, we are pleased we came all the way down here. The cruise on the Avon between Bath and Bristol was great, even if it was in the rain.


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