Walking Along The River Avon
The River Avon runs right through the middle of Bristol and on out to Avonmouth, which is obviously, the mouth of the river.
Since the river leads to the sea, the Avon is tidal. Some parts of the day it just looks like an emptied out basin of mostly mud. Other times it’s full.
When you see it all emptied out, it’s hard to imagine that ships ever came down the river into the Bristol Harbour, but Bristol used to be a major shipping port.
The port closed in the 1970’s because the boats became too big to squeeze into the Avon. Now the ships come in to Avonmouth.
Early in our time here I discovered a path that runs right along the river about 3/4 of a mile from our house. I put together a loop that incorporates walking along the Avon for a while and then climbing up the hill to the Downs and back to our house.
The whole walk is only about 3 miles, but you get a fairly strenuous climb in, so it’s one of my training walks for mountain climbing.
But the part where you walk by the river is delightfully flat.
I took my Dad on this walk at the end of summer on a fairly hot day, and he loved it. He still remembers it as one of his favorite walks we did during his visit. It was just the two of us. The tide was in, so there was a slight breeze off of the river.
To get to the path, you head to the Sea Mills train station and cross under the tracks to the edge of the River Avon.
During my parents’ visit, we had used the Sea Mills train station to visit other places, so Dad already knew the way there.
It’s funny how it is a relief for parts of my life to become familiar to my loved ones.
Now that I’ve taken my parents on several of my regular walks, when I say, I walked up on the Downs today, they can see it. They know the way from my house and can picture the climb up the hill and the big green expanse at the top. It’s comforting to me for them to be able to picture my life here.
When you leave the River Avon to get back up to the Downs, you climb through a forest known locally as the goat gully. A herd of billy goats is kept on this part of the hill as a conservation effort. Apparently they eat invasive species that would otherwise crowd out the wildflowers.
My dad found this part of the walk awfully steep, but it’s quick. When we emerged from the gully, we were on the western end of the Downs, so the rest of the way to my house is flat and downhill.
I walked the River Avon several more times this autumn. I saw the leaves change colors and then fall off the trees. Every time I go, I remember this day with my dad and look forward to his coming back to walk with me again.
Mini Walking Stories is a project I’m doing this month to catalog a fabulous year of walking. During December, I’m inviting you to come along with me for a few minutes on one of the walks I took in 2022. Read more stories here and subscribe to future stories here.