It was a beautiful autumn morning in Bristol today. The sky was a Mediterranean blue, and the October sunshine was still the right side of warm as we set off just before 10am in the direction of Clifton village. The fountains and façade of the Victoria Rooms were doing an excellent impression of an Italian town hall, and the water was positively sparkling in the sunlight.
Our destination was the suspension bridge across the Avon river gorge that links the Severn Estuary to the docks in the centre of the city. Although built to a design originally drafted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the suspension bridge linking Clifton on the Bristol side, to land originally owned by the Ashton Court estate on the North Somerset side, was actually completed as a tribute to the Victorian engineering genius after his death.
It’s an amazing feat of engineering, spanning the gorge suspended from a series of chains and iron connecting bars that in turn carry the iron plates that form the deck of the bridge.
And if the views OF the bridge are amazing, then the views FROM it are even more spectacular.
If you do visit the Bridge, then make sure that you allow half an hour to have a look around the visitor centre just past the ticket barriers on the north side of the gorge. The volunteers who run it are helpful and informative and the displays and video presentation give a fascinating insight into the chequered history of the construction project up to the point when it was finally finished in the second half of the 19th century.