I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Portishead Marina (Gloucester and Sharpness Canal and the River Severn Estuary) – Friday 16th May

The alarm went off at 7am and Richard bounced out of bed – not like yesterday!  He was itching to go and was having breakfast at some unearthly hour.  I was much more laid back though my tummy was churning a bit!  Everything that had to be moved was moved – the shower looks like a market garden!  We pulled away from our mooring spot at 8.20am for our lock out at 9.00am – of course we were far too early and had to sit and wait for ages for the first bridge to be opened.  Gradually the bridge swung and we got our first proper view of Sharpness Docks – hmmm no comment!  We were soon in the lock where we met our pilot, Bill.  It was all slightly chaotic as even though we had had so much time waiting for the bridge we still hadn’t got our life jackets on or the anchor out.

Muffin looking forward to his trip
Our first view of the Severn Estuary
Out of the lock and into the Severn Estuary.  As we past the wooden spit the water was rushing over it and it made me realise how dangerous the tide in the Severn can be.  Our first view of the estuary was lovely but we seemed to be in the middle of a big sea!  Richard and I are sea sailors as well as canal boaters so it wasn’t frightening but the vessel we were in was rather different!   Muffin and I settled down in the cratch to check we weren’t going to hit anything!

Tide ripping under the wooden spit
Muffin on watch - or is he sleeping?
The first part of the trip was, I have to say, rather boring but once we approached the bridges it all changed.  To see the huge upper bridge (Severn Bridge) looming in front of us was amazing.  At first the lorries going over were rather like pieces of Lego and they gradually got bigger and bigger. 

In 1966 the cables supporting the bridge deck were spun from 18,000 miles of wire. The main cables are each made up of 8,322 individual 5mm wires. The bridge is 5,240 feet long, consisting of a 3,240 feet central span between the towers and the two 1,000 feet side spans. The towers rise to 445 feet above mean high.  It was opened in 1966 and was granted Grade I listed status on 26 November 1999. 





Severn Bridge

Once we were on the other side we appeared to be going through whirlpools but Bill said that it was the tide going out over rocks and uneven surfaces on the bottom.

Churning sea
The lower bridge (Second Severn Crossing) hove into view and, in my opinion, is more spectacular.  There is a 25 span viaduct on the English side of 6,900 feet/1.307 miles, a 24 span viaduct of 6,814 feet/1.291 miles on the Welsh side and the bridge itself is a 3,110 feet/0.589 mile structure giving a total of 16,824 feet/3.186 miles.  The central section, called the Shoots Bridge, is of cable-stayed design and the central span (between the bridge pylons) is 1,496 feet in length.  Work on the new crossing began in 1992 and was completed in 1996.  The path taken by the bridge is close to that of the Severn Tunnel which has carried the railway line beneath the river bed since 1886.
  



Severn Crossing Bridge

Muffin and I started to get a bit cold at this stage and both had to have jumpers!  Meanwhile the pilot was in shirt sleeves. 

Cold dog
Hot pilot!
The next excitement was Avonmouth Docks – well not really we just went past and into Portishead Marina where we parted company with Bill.  The lock is huge and some narrowboaters may moan about water gushing into locks but I bet you ain’t seen anything like this before!
  
Ooo er - it's a bit big

I'm glad Mary H is tied up well on the floating pontoon
We took a turn round the marina and felt very out of place!  Still we had a very nice hammerhead mooring and close to the lock. 
  

Portishead Marina

After lunch we took the bus into Bristol as we wanted to buy a hand held VHF radio.  The bus service is very efficient and Force 4 was about a 20 minute walk from the bus stop in Hotwells.  However the walk made my ankle hurt so we took the ferry back across to Hotwells and caught the bus back.  In the evening we went to the new pub in the Marina called H & W.  It is made out of old shipping containers and looks very smart.  It was heaving but we managed to get a table outside and had a very nice meal.



And finally we no longer have a Cockapoo but a Marinepoo!




Sharpness to Portishead Marina
20.42 Miles

2 Locks

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