Time for some more urban walking. Follow me on a journey of two great rivers that showed me a different side to a city that I thought I knew well. This is not your typical ‘scenic’ walk in many ways but although it was different, it was always interesting.
One Sunday morning not so long ago, Harriet said that she was going into Bristol and could drop me somewhere on her way if I wanted. After ten minutes looking at an Ordnance Survey map I had cobbled together a 15 mile walk that would take me down the banks of the Severn along the Severn Way Bristol Link to the mouth of the Avon before following that river down the Avon Gorge into Bristol along the River Avon Trail.
Harriet dropped me at Bristol Temple Meads and from the there I got the train out to Severn Beach which is the last stop of the Severn Beach line.
The 45 minute train journey was scenic enough, following the river banks for most of its course. When I reached the terminus of the line and arrived at the unmanned station there, the place immediately felt remote. Severn Beach has a very bleak quality to it. The muddy grass-covered banks of the river and the huge expanse of its water contribute to this.
Apart from some slightly more lavish housing on the waterfront, the town itself feels like a deteriorating seaside resort. It’s pub and leisure centre have long since been demolished and only a small shop and local baker are still open for business. The weather probably didn’t help my impression of Severn Beach on that day either as thick clouds invariably populated the sky.
The Second Severn Crossing carrying the M4 motorway over the Severn into South Wales completely dominates the landscape at Severn Beach. Coming here gave me the chance to appreciate what an incredible achievement in engineering the bridge really is.
I began walking away from the town, heading South down the riverbank on a concrete path. I detoured from the path for short while to walk on the ‘sands’ nearer the water but the mud, pebbles and seaweed soon became hard work so I returned to the path. The alien industrial complexes of Avonmouth Docks and Portbury Docks began to make themselves apparent further down the River. I would be getting better acquainted with these unnatural worlds before too long.
The path then took me through an overgrown area and then out next to the Severn Beach railway line. The Severn Way crosses the railway line on foot at this point. Extreme caution is advised when doing this (said the man who stopped on the tracks to take a picture looking down the line).
The route then began following cycle paths through the Avonmouth area. Although I was surprised at the amount of greenery here, the area is mainly industrial and rife with manufacturing, transportation and renewable energy.
The path cut right through the industrial complex following small streams that fought for life against weeds and concrete. Wind turbines are very imposing up close.
The walk continues into Bristol on the next page below…