Sunday, 18 January 2009
Leigh Woods and Avon Gorge
This is a short (3.5 miles), but impressively varied and enjoyable walk. It starts in the car park of Leigh Woods, west of Bristol and is in four distinct stages.
The first involves a descent through the woods down to the river bank. The walk directions are not very clear about this, but on both of the occasions we have done this walk we have found different routes down. Today's was more adventurous and involved scrambling down a gulley. However, we reached the right disused railway bridge and turned right to walk along the river bank, along the Avon gorge.
This second stage involves a very pleasant stroll along a reasonably wide path, shared with joggers and cyclists. Not mercifully, quite as many cyclists as when we were last here in March 2006, when we felt quite oppressed by the ringing bells. There are impressive views of the other side of the gorge across the muddy river.
We were struck by the speed with which the tide was coming in. Not the full-bore, people on surfboards version, but still noticeably fast. At bit further on, the sun had come out and the view back looked quite idyllic.
Just before the Clifton Suspension bridge high overhead, you take a right turn under another railway bridge to climb the delightful Nightingale Valley.
The final stage, from the top of Nightingale Valley involves briefly leaving the wood and a short stretch of road, before crossing a field to reach the road back to the car park.
From: Somerset, Wiltshire and the Mendips (Jarrold Pathfinder Guides).
Map: Explorer 154 (Bristol West and Portishead).
Rating: four stars.
I was very taken with these new lambs, with their unformed faces.
Clifton Suspension bridge
Full information can be found at the bridge's website, including the tale of how a Victorian lady jumped from the bridge, but was saved by her crinolines and petticoats, which acted as an early parachute.
In brief, it was designed, as every schoolboy used to know, by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, after winning a competition in 1830, at the age of 24. The foundation stone was laid in 1831 and the two towers were complete by 1843, when the project was abandoned. The bridge was eventually completed in 1864, although Brunel had died in 1859.