Tuesday, 2 September 2014

An Engineering Masterpiece

If you go down 
to the woods today
You're sure of a big
Surprise
Could it be a teddybears picnic?

via
illustration by Molly Brett

No, its
a
bridge that is
exactly
150 years old
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)
via
Whilst travelling along the road that runs beneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge that links the Avon Gorge, I have often thought how lovely it would be to visit it and see the view. Usually we are on our way to catch a plane or travelling down to the West Country for a holiday. Looking in my National Trust membership handbook I discovered that a walk through the forest seen on the left gives access to the bridge. So, on the last day of August, clutching our picnic basket, off we trekked through the woods,
and at the end of the trail this is what we found
The River Avon is a fast flowing river with a great tidal range - at low tide, as seen here, the water recedes almost completely to sandy mud. To navigate it is essential to have daily up to date charts and tide tables. 
When we crossed the bridge to the Bristol side people were relaxing and enjoying the late August sunshine.
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It was from the Port of Bristol that Cabot sailed in 1497 in the 'Matthew' to land in Newfoundland. It is possible to visit a sea-going replica berthed in the floating harbour at Bristol, and you can also visit
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Brunel's SS Great Britain which sits alongside the Brunel Institute. The institute houses one of the world's finest maritime collections.

50 comments:

  1. What lovely shades of greens in those trees/shurbs, Rosemary.
    To find that wonderful bridge must have been exciting
    Regards Margaret

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    1. It was very satisfying to be able to walk over it having seen it from the road so often.

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  2. A wonderful interesting post from the shades in the wood via the surprising bridge to the beautiful sailing ships.

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    1. Thank you Janneke - it was a very pleasing day out for us.

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  3. That's a great trailer into a great photo-tour with some nice facts along the way. I have the Clifton Suspension Bridge on my list - but your photographs are much better!

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    1. Thank you Mike - it is one of those places that I have wanted to visit for ages, but once I realised it could be accessed easily from the forest that clinched it.

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    1. I was surprised just how robust it is up close, it looks so delicate and fragile from down below.

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  5. Loved how you lead us down the lane to the bridge...you had me at the Teddybear picnic! Amazing bridge and beautiful ld ships too.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Janey - it was a revelation to us too that we could see this wonderful bridge following a stroll in the woods.

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  6. What a beautiful post (again!) Rosemary...I just love the way you show your pictures and it feels like I´m there as a visitor! Great!
    Have a lovely september week, take care...
    Love,
    Titti

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    1. That is so kind of you Titti - it was a lovely day which we enjoyed so much, and I am so happy that you felt as if you were with us♡

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  7. Hi Rosemary, I have always admired suspension bridges from afar. I am scared of heights. This one is magnificent. I hope you are well. i am not blogging quite yet but wanted to visit. Joe is walking now without a cane and may return to work in two weeks. Olive

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    1. It is so lovely to hear from you Olive and I am delighted that Joe is making good progress.
      Perhaps you would not have been happy to cross this bridge, it is really high up, but it didn't feel at all precarious.

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  8. Smashing view from the bridge Rosemary. How can we such wonderful marvels of construction and engineering but still have to cross the monstrosity that is the Hogarth flyover every week.

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    1. Having looked at the image of the Hogarth flyover on Google, I agree. I have travelled on it without knowing its name. Bring back the elegant designs of Brunel, say I.

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  9. Great post dear Rosemary!!What a lovely bridge!Wonderful view!!
    Your pictures from the woods are amazing!Thank you for sharing!
    Have a lovely month!
    Dimi...

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    1. Thank you Dimi - I hadn't realised before that the vast forest on the side of the gorge would lead us to the bridge until I read about it in a book.

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  10. An intiguing way to visit the bridge. The juxtaposition between nature and industry was powerful.

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    1. It was a happy discovery for me Susan - we shall definitely return again for another wander through those woods - who knows what we might discover next time.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, What a magnificent bridge that is, elegantly conceived and beautifully maintained. Bridges are a special problem in the historic preservation field, because the (perceived) risk of the bridge failing too often leads to replacement with a hideous modern substitute. Thanks for this reminder that old bridges can still serve while meeting current engineering standards.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - fortunately the bridge is owned by a Trust who care for and maintain it in wonderful order. They only charge £1 for a car to go across and nothing for pedestrians or cyclist. This year they have built a Visitors Centre which will be opening shortly as so many people are interested in seeing and learning about it.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    As one who is interested in daguerreotypes and the history of photography, I became familiar with Isambard Kingdom Brunel by way of the wonderful image of him that you've used in this posting. As he stands next to those enormous chains it's easy to imagine that he too must have been a bigger-than-life personality, with a huge drive to succeed and perhaps a huge ego. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what directions he'd turn his attention to today?

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    1. Dear Mark - I think that this is a wonderful photograph of Isambard. He looks extremely confident and flamboyant, but apparently was quite short and it is thought he wore a high hat to give him a taller appearance. Sadly he was only 53 years old when he died, but was said to have achieved in one year what most could never achieve in a lifetime.
      The versatility of his skills was considerable from designing tunnels, bridges, railway lines and ships.
      We did ponder exactly the same question as you.

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  13. I didn't realise that the Clifton bridge was designed by Brunel! It is a beautiful bridge though isn't it. xx

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    1. It is a bridge that 'calls' to you when you look up at it from the road whilst travelling down to the West Country.

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  14. Like you I've often seen it, and driven across it, but never stopped to admire.

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    1. Next time we must drive over it Jessica - it has got to be a bargain with a toll of only £1 per car.

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  15. It is a wonderful bridge - I have been over it many times but never seen it from below before. I looks splendid. The walk looked great as well.

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    1. Well, you have done more than me Susan - I have never driven over it yet, only walked over it - next time hopefully!!!

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  16. What an impressive brigde! You were lucky to be able to access it through the woods, dear Rosemary!
    Your photos of the Avon river and the boats at the port of Bristol are gorgeous!
    I enjoy your posts so much every time I visit your blog!
    I wish you a happy month of September!

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    1. Dear Marie-Anne - your kind comment is much appreciated. We were delighted to discover that it was possible to visit the bridge via the forest. Now when I drive under it I will know what it looks like from above.

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  17. Beautiful images as always Rosemary, you have captured the bridge architecture and structure so well.

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    1. Thanks Suzie - it was a spur of the moment outing that we both enjoyed.

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  18. Great post Rosemary.
    Isn't it a joy to explore and get to know something we pass and often take for granted.
    Very interesting.
    Hope you have a lovely week,
    Liz x

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    1. How right you are Liz - at long last I decided to do something about visiting the bridge, and it proved to be a good day out.

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  19. Lovely images. Every photo takes a lot to time to watch.
    I love the bridge, and how wonderful views from it.

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    1. Thank you - it was lovely being so high up and looking down - the cars looked like toys.

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  20. Wonderful post, and beautiful series of photos!

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    1. I appreciate your kind comment, and thank you for your visit Linda

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  21. What an interesting post and great you went to find the bridge and finally found it. It looks beautiful made, a real bridge. The river doesn't look so inviting to sail in, but you were high up to have a great overview at the area.

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    1. It is a busy river, but tidal, the tide was out during our visit.

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  22. It is a beautiful bridge; love the b&w painting/lithograph(?). The plant collage: what is the red fruit? Crabapple?

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    1. The do resemble crab apples but they were small wild cherries.

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  23. Each bit of history is such a small but important piece in our immense Earthly puzzle. Thank you for this puzzle piece. I love the photo of Mr. Brunel (?) in front of the chains. My goodness, are those chains true to size?

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    1. I love the photo of Isambard too - the huge chains are the launching chains of another ship he designed called the SS Great Eastern. When I visited the Titantic exhibition in Belfast they had the launching chains there and I remember being surprised at the enormity of their size.

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  24. I have often had this same thought. it was lovely to stop and enjoy more that a fleeting view of this wonderful view. It must have be and been so wonderful for my ancestors to sail below it and know they were nearly home. It is an amazing engineering feat. Did you happen to see a programme about the bridge one lunchtime last week? Sarah x

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  25. Gorgeous post, Rosemary. I've seen the Clifton suspension bridge many times, but always from below, so your photos were a revelation. And didn't you have perfect weather for your visit!

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  26. Rosemary, I see that I don't need to find the wherewithal to rush back to the UK as I can simply follow your blog and feel as if I'm there. You really are very talented at showcasing different locations and beauty spots and I so enjoyed this post as I do with all of them. As well as your stunning photos I also enjoyed seeing the ink drawing of the bridge particularly as I'm currently dabbling in pen sketches at the moment. Glad to see you were out and about enjoying the last of your summer weather.

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“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh