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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 36

Posted by indigodream on 18 September, 2008

Bristol Floating Harbour

Mooring pontoons by Peros bridge - the 'ears' are counterwiegths for the liftbridge

Mooring pontoons by Peros bridge - the 'ears' are counterweights for the liftbridge

It seemed a bit surreal that this is day 36 of our odyssey. Day 34 seems so much more than a day ago, if that makes sense. Day 35, spread over 3 posts feels like it must have occupied at least a month!

After our epic day yesterday we decided to have a rest day today. Bristol’s a good place for a gentle mooch around. In fact, the harbour’s a good place just to sit on your back deck, drinking the beverage of your choice and watching the world go by. There’s a real buzz to the place.

We didn’t get up ‘til 11am – a combination of tiredness after our long day yesterday and being woken up at 1.30am by a drunken man shouting across the harbour at the top of his voice. Sound really does carry over the water! He was well away from the boat though – although there’s no security gates, people just don’t seem to come onto the pontoons. I was surprised – it’s as if there’s an

A view of the harbour and Tall Ship 'Matthew'

A view of the harbour and Tall Ship 'Matthew'

unwritten rule there that’s even understood by the merry revellers (!) in all the clubs opposite….

Dogs were also tired – they didn’t get up until 11.30am!

The first job of the day was to get a pump-out. The sullen red light had been on since Sharpness – Richard had been concerned that the weight of the tank would drag the stern under when he was coming down the Severn 🙂

The floating harbour is a bit shy of pump-out facilities. As far as we can make out, the only one currently operation is at Baltic Wharf (a marina facility rather than Bristol Council). You get tokens from the chandlery. There’s water and diesel here as well – didn’t check the price but the water’s free if you buy diesel or a pump-out. Don’t panic over water – there are lots of FREE water points dotted around the harbour! There are two Council pump-out facilities in the harbour – one isn’t open yet and the other’s been

Old heritage preserved - oh, and the new pump out facility!

Old heritage preserved - oh, and the new pump out facility!

shut for maintenance for over a year! That’s not many facilities considering the number of boats that are moored here. It led us to some unsavoury speculation as to how many use the ‘bucket and chuck it’ technique!

Later in the afternoon we went for a long walk with the dogs. If you moor on the pontoons by the Arnolfini, then there’s a square of greenery (Queen Square) across the road behind the gallery. It’s fine for the essentials but it’s not big enough for a proper off-lead rummage.

If you’re up for a longer walk then you can cross over the swing bridge to the other side of the harbour and walk down the wharf towards SS Great Britain. The quay side is littered with interesting remnants of the harbour’s shipping heritage.

More preserved heritage!

More preserved heritage!

SS Great Britain and the tall ship ‘Matthew’ look amazing from the water – apparently they’re well worth a visit. However SS Great Britain doesn’t allow four-footed visitors so at this point we walked away from the harbour towards the river. There’s a good riverside path which overlooks the water, or the mud, in this case – the tide was out and it was fascinating to see. We walked along the river past the old bonded warehouses ‘til we got to an old disused railway then crossed over the river to an extensive park and ‘towpath’ walk. Dogs had a great time here and I walked down far enough to get a view of the lock that we’d come through the night before. It looked so very different now without 32 feet of water lapping up to its walls. The photos at the end will show you what I mean!

Blue and Lou on the ferry!

Blue and Lou on the ferry!

We walked back towards the quayside – just past the bonded warehouses you can cut left towards Underfall Yard and find yourself back in the harbour. We caught a ferry back from the Cottage Inn – the ferry allows dogs and cost a weighty £2.20 for all four of us – bargain. It saved us the best part of an hour’s walk back to the boat and deposited us close to a fine ice-cream stand. When we used to take Blue and Lou to greyhound obedience classes we were taught a command – “watch me”. Well, with a large tub of ice cream in my hand I was guaranteed their complete and total attention!

By now it was 6pm and we were tired again. But being as we were in the big city we thought we should eat out. Sadly we just dragged ourselves aimlessly into King Street and went to an Italian Restaurant (Trattoria?) which wafts amazingingly appetising smells across the street but sadly fails to deliver them to your plate. Actually, that’s a little

The jolly crew of the Jade running round the harbour in their inflatable

The jolly crew of the Jade running round the harbour in their inflatable

unfair, the meals were fine, just unmemorable for the price. What we will remember is that 3 peronis and a bottle of mineral water came to £16! If you’re in Bristol then there must be better places to eat. From previous visits I can recommend the chinese buffet restaurant on the junction of Queen Charlotte Street and Baldwin Street.

When we came back on board we chatted with the cheery crew of yacht ‘Jade’. We’d overtaken them on the river, shared the lock with them and now they were our next door neighbours on the pontoon. We gave them a CD the photos that we’d taken of them and had a general chinwag. They’d popped over from Barry (in South Wales for the uninititated) and were going to pop back again the following day. It certainly cut us down to size. What had been such an epic for us was just an everyday walk in the park for the motor yacht crowd!


I just wanted to show you a few photos of the difference between high and low tide here. It really bought home the importance of getting the timing right. Apparently it’s ok to sit on the mud outside the lock if you mis-time your journey, but can you imagine 6 hours or more on the mud. It would have to Richard’s worse nightmare – stuck in a confined space with a chorus of whinging from Sue, Blue and Lou!

Approaching low tide...

Approaching low tide...

An hour or so from high tide...

An hour or so from high tide...

Approaching low tide...

Approaching low tide...

An hour from high tide

An hour from high tide

One Response to “The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 36”

  1. Lesley said

    SS Gt Britain is definately worth a visit and if you can get the guided tour, so much the better.

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