To Bristol and On Our Way Back

  We had a lovely couple of days in Bath, walked all round the city with Sal (she was a star – she doesn’t like lots of traffic or people but she’s getting more confident all the time and did really well!). We found back roads and footpaths so that we weren’t walking on really busy roads. Bath is certainly a gorgeous city and we were looking forward to having another couple of days there on our way back.

We moved from Bath on 3rd July. It was a long day – we left at just before 9am, stopped for lunch and a break for half an hour and reached Bristol floating harbour at 5.15 pm. The weather was gorgeous, the harbour is bustling, busy and noisy but great! (Apart from the busker who couldn’t carry a note in a bucket!!!) The river all the way was like a millpond and a pleasure to navigate. We had a quick walk round and a meal – bit noisy for Sal so we left her on the boat.

On Thursday 4th July we walked all along the harbour leading out onto the riverside and visited Clifton. We took a picnic and our books and made a day of it. It’s a very steep climb up from the river to the top by the Observatory but the views are worth it!

Sal was really funny walking on the floating pontoon to which we were moored. It does move a bit, obviously. She got off the boat expecting Terra Firma and immediately jumped back on again! When encouraged off of the boat, she walked with a low, splayed out stance. Bless her, she’s had to learn and cope with so many new things!

A lot of people do not navigate past Bath for several reasons (long day’s cruising – lack of moorings on the way so has to be done in one hit, horror stories about river cruising – not a problem this time of year, noisy harbour at Bristol, etc, etc) which is a huge shame as it is beautiful! We will be spreading the word!

After our two days in Bristol, we made our way back towards Bath on the 5th July. We hadn’t bargained for the tides, though, or rather we hadn’t realised that the tides still affect the passage of boats out of the harbour, so we got to the lock to find it closed. We had a two hour wait, which meant we were much later in the day to head back than planned, consequently we were immensely relieved to find a mooring at Hanham Locks, a couple of hours from Bristol, which are a bit like hen’s teeth! They’d been full on the way down so we weren’t holding out much hope, but we were lucky! There was a lovely pub there and some nice walks, so we stayed there for two days and had a bit of a rest after our busy couple of days getting to and in Bristol.

We did the rest of the journey back to Bath on Sunday 7th, and enjoyed it just as much on the return leg. We arrived in Bath in good time and moored at the dock side again. We stocked up the cupboards on Monday and had another lovely walk round the city.

Tuesday announced itself by Sal jumping on the bed at 5.30 am, frantically pacing. By the time we came to and got up, she had unfortunately had “an accident” on our bed (use your imagination!) which meant a complete wash of all the bedding, including the duvet. Fortunately, there was a launderette close by with big machines, so we were washed and dried and back to normal by 11am. The same couldn’t be said for Sal, unfortunately, who was definitely under the weather all day. We had to move as we were on a two day mooring, so we moved to just round the corner going through a couple of locks and back onto the canal. We had a quiet rest of the day just keeping her cool and comfortable (and outside!!!).

We moved on Wednesday 10th July to just on the outskirts of Bath after picking up a prescription for Sal from a very friendly vet’s practice. We had an unfortunate incident, though, in that Tony hammered a mooring pin into a wasps’ nest in the bank! He got stung a few times, one adventurous little bugger flying up the leg of his shorts!! There was some hilarity on my part as he shot into the boat and dropped his pants (the wasp still in situ up said shorts leg). The wasp gave its life for its endeavours, I’m afraid. A few more probably did, too, as Tony went back out with the wasp killer spray to spray at close quarters as near to the nest as he could.

This meant that, due to his “stingy” injuries, Tony decided not to come with Sal and me for a walk. Off we went to Sydney Gardens, where I was reading a sign about the restoration of the Edwardian Ladies Toilet (it will be a grand loo when restored!) when Sal spotted a squirrel and pulled me clean off my feet! My sunglasses shot off my head, she hurtled off after the squirrel and I was sprawled in a rather ungainly fashion in the dusty grass. Fortunately, (and every cloud has a silver lining) no-one saw, so I was able to scramble up and hurtle off after her, dignity intact. 

Unfortunately, my fall after Sal pulled me over did do some damage to my knee, which meant I have been on the injury bench again. Consequently, we moved only a short way from just out side Bath to Bathampton and then yesterday (12th) to Avoncliff, which was where we hadn’t stopped on the way, so it was nice to moor somewhere different. We had a short, slow walk to the pub last night and had a delicious pie for our dinner, sat on the decking overlooking the River Avon – very picturesque!

We have moved today to the lovely mooring spot we found at Hilperton/Trowbridge with the wide grassy area away from the towpath and Sal remembered the little den she found and is currently snoozing there. There is a great boatyard here that sells all the parts we need to enable Tony to do the first engine service so we shall be availing ourselves of their services. We may even stay here for another couple of days – we filled with water this morning so we are fully loaded and there’s a Lidl just round the corner for supplies.

I had been looking for a while at folding bikes – I thought that having a folding bike would enable one of us to nip to a nearby shop a bit easier and quicker, or for jumping on to scope out possible moorings, etc. I had been keeping an eye on second hand bikes on FB Marketplace – we didn’t really want to spend a lot of money on a “decent” bike as they are notorious for getting stolen and as we would need to store ours on the roof of the boat, this was a consideration. So, whilst we were in Bath, someone had advertised two very good bikes at a very good price, so I contacted them – it turned out to be a couple moored in the boat about 100 yards away! They were a lovely couple with a very similar story to ours – even down to having moored in Newbury before they left on their adventure! We were too late, though, someone had already agreed to buy the bikes, but the buyers stopped by the boat and said they had an older folding bike for sale as they’d bought the two advertised. They sent us pictures and agreed to deliver it to us the next day and they very kindly dropped it off for us. It’s a bit tatty, but sound, and has already proved to be useful. Well worth £40 of anyone’s money!

I have uploaded another video to YouTube of our Bath and Bristol experiences, have a look if you’re interested! https://youtu.be/9qCeel82hXg