Clifton Suspension Bridge – the past revisited

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge

We have just returned from a short break away. It was not a walking trip but rather, a family holiday, but the three generation Mountain Gazelle Club did manage to ‘escape’ for an adventure or two 🙂 ! One of these was to visit Clifton which is a very nice place with a number of interesting things to see. What I really wanted to do was to walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge to revisit my past.

When I was but a lad, I remember visiting this place and I can remember all these years later the thrill it gave me, and that feeling that I was almost flying as we crossed the bridge high above the Avon Gorge near Bristol. Things were very different then of course as we had no car so we could only go during the two weeks of my dad’s holiday – yes, he only got two weeks and they were always the first two weeks of August! It was during those two weeks that my dad would borrow my uncle’s very old Morris 10. With no modern roads and a car that had a maximum speed of around 40 mph, it used to take an age to get there but we didn’t care. In fact, we used to like it because it took an age to get home too which meant we got to stay up till gone midnight 🙂 ! Often there would be seven or more of us packed into that little car and we made our own entertainment as we drove, by singing heartily – well of course, there was no in car entertainment.

The Avon Gorge
The view from the bridge towards Bristol
The Avon Gorge
The view from the bridge into the Avon Gorge

It wasn’t quite so good for my dad as he had to do all the driving, and also, in return for borrowing the car, he would spend the next year maintaining it for my uncle who was not at all mechanically minded. Actually, it was probably the other way round and my uncle offered to lend us the car as a thank you for my dad’s work. Either way, we boys used to get so excited to have a car even if it was only for a short time!

The bridge itself was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel although he wasn’t to see the work completed. The erection commenced in 1836 but was interrupted so was not completed until 1864, some 5 years after Brunel died. The bridge was built to connect Clifton with Leigh Woods in North Somerset which were separated by the Avon Gorge. As is often the case, the bridge is a well known suicide spot and many people jumped from it before the protection barriers were erected. One lady however, failed in her attempt when her billowing skirt acted as a parachute. This, and the fact that she landed in thick mud at low tide, saved her and she actually went on to live into her eighties.

Walking across the bridge brought back some very fond childhood memories. I wonder if my grandson, who is roughly the same age as I was when I first visited, will have similar memories when he reaches my age!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoy exploring with me.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t have time (or the shoes!) to walk the bridge when I was last in Bristol, but it’d one of my favourite cities.

    And I have memories of similar road trips!

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