Sunday 19 January 2014- Bristol: St Mary Redcliffe- Troopers Hill- Barleymow
Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One and the DJ
Urban ramble, gloriously sunny day (finally). The (in the end) six mile route took us from St Mary Redcliffe, along the Avon and the Cut to Troopers Hill, then back through Barton Hill to the Barleymow.
We started the walk proper outside St Mary Redcliffe, where after brief consultation we decided to go east rather than west, to see if we could find a complete pedestrian route along the river. Thus down Cattle Market Road to join the river towpath (the ‘Whitchurch Way’). The Avon was in full fast flow, with cormorants, gulls, geese and alarming-looking currents.
The river loops along the south side of what we discovered used to be known as the ‘Island’ (the north side being the Cut), St Philip’s Marsh, and learnt the tale of a famous local ratcatcher- Albert “Hopper” Chinnick- who used to bite the heads off rats. Somewhere in Avonmeads, the towpath turned into an extremely muddy footpath which had been partly washed away by the floods, and ended under a couple of railway bridges.
We cut up through the industrial estate to Feeder Road, then along the Cut through Netham Park (scene not just of Paddy Garcia’s past football glories, but home of the brillo pad too. Who knew?). Then over Netham Lock to follow the Avon again. We climbed up to Troopers Hill to admire the chimney and the view of Bristol.
We then rambled through St George and Barton Hill (past Octavius Hunt, Europe’s largest smoke factory), stopping for a quick drink in The Swan. Feeling that another pint would be beneficial, we then rambled on to the Barleymow, following the ‘Wesley Way’ back through Pilemarsh, past the Rhubarb, and along Gas Lane (to add to previously seen Cheese Lane and Strawberry Lane) to the Dings. Top chips in the mow. Then we called it a day and strolled home.
Overall, hard to ask more of an urban walk than this. Remarkably green (or rather mud-brown) for an urban ramble, but properly industrial too. We proved to ourselves there is a route west to east along the river (with one small diversion) and joined up lots of bits we’ve walked separately. We learnt new things about mighty industrial Bristol we really should have known before, and walked some routes you’d never guess were there.
St Mary Redcliffe needs a return visit when it’s not Sunday, glad to have done the Swan once (only), and must remember to visit the Barleymow more often.