I’m no lover of heights and the thought of constructing or maintaining this thing fill me with fear… my respect to those who built it and look after it is immense.
Last Tuesday, I took time out to do something I’ve been meaning to for a while – cross the Severn bridge by bike, so while in Bristol, I chose to take a look at the Clifton Bridge while i was there too.
It was a beautiful day and I had a wonderful time.
As readers will know, I love architecture and engineering and the chance to see three suspension bridges was not to be missed – and in fact, it was four really, if one includes the Wye bridge, directly joined to the Severn.
Clifton Suspension Bridge is a tour de force of Victorian Engineering hubris by Brunel – a structure constructed less for utility and more as a demonstration of prowess; sadly construction halted midway due to Brunel’s lack of money and wasn’t completed until five years after his death. But what an epitaph.
The Severn Bridge is a classically elegant 1966 work that’s actually four bridges in one – the Aust Viaduct, the Severn Bridge, Beachey Viaduct and Wye Bridge. The viaducts are pier structures, while the river crossings themselves are two different designs of suspension.
Visible from the surrounding landscape is the Second Severn Crossing, built in 1996, and motorway only. This Ronald Weeks designed structure is, to me, timeless and a classic illustration of great British engineering.
All in all a great day, and a 30 mile ride from Bristol to Chepstow, on great cycle trails and generally quiet urban roads. I commend it to anyone.
For more of this kind of thing, 365daysofbiking is still running and coming up to four uninterrupted years of daily pedal-pounding.
The two pylons either side of the bridge are of a curious design I can’t work out. Why the added platforms at the top?
Chepstow seems to be doing quite well.
The curves and lines of the Clifton Bridge are almost organic.
This has been a notoriously grim spot since it opened.
Clifton is architecturally eccentric to say the least.
An astounding 1957 brutalist water tower stands on Clifton Dows.
The Severn Bridge is older, built in 1966.
The geology here is interesting too – Limestone shales, rock, green mudstone and red mudstone, Nosng through the talus is interesting.
This curious cottage in Westbury on Trym is in the middle of an urban area.
If your washing falls, I guess it’s gone…
Clifton really is gorgeous.
The strange fittings are lights. I believe the bolts are sometimes replaced.
Downhill at last!
From the Chepstow side, it looks more daunting.
Such a great view and a lovely day.
The mudflats of the Severn and Wye estuary.
The nods to Art Deco are surprising.
That carriage is mobile and used for maintenance purposes. Rather you than me, mate
Climbing the path from the Avon river trail to the bridge was hard work!
Te cables and supports are very minimalist.
The chains were recycled from the Hungerford Footbridge, The steel cable is for maintenance workers to attach climbing gear to.
I have no idea what this is about, but it’s rather cute.
The pylons are very tall (to accommodate the sag, presumably) and sinister-looking.
The sun over Bristol is a wonderful sight after such bad weather!
The anti-climb measures are considerable. The box and wiring to the left are sensors listening to the condition of the cables, constantly monitoring stress and unusual noise and vibration.
There are some mad buggers about, clearly.
The Clifton Observatory has a passage down into a rock cave near the top of the cliff.
Such a great morning.
The Avon through Bristol is historic and beautiful
Also crossing the Severn at this point, high tension electricity cables. One pylon stands on it’s own pier.
The view is stunning. It’s a long way down to the Avon!
The first pylons back on the banks behind the big ones are curious, too. Again, platforms on top.
Extra fencing has been added in recent years.
A Gilbert Roberts design, it’s sparse and beautiful.
This cuddly lad was hanging around outside a street corner cafe waiting for his dad.
When something is right, it just shows. How gorgeous is this?
Crossing the bridge is an experience. Terrifically windy, the deck vibrates with the traffic.
The Second is a very long bridge, with a suspended middle section.
Lots of wind turbines on the Severn Estuary. Even the lorries have them fitted.
And down… now I understand the speed limit of 15MPH!
I’d ridden from down there,
The Second Severn Crossing is motorway only, but I think it’s beautiful, and clearly a close relative of the Dartford Crossing.
The elegance of the design is superb. It wasn’t finished until after Brunel’s death.
Chepstow is gorgeous, too – but very hilly.
This reminds me of the seaside
Bristol is a remarkably varied city that’s continually changed with the times.
Severn Beach – heavily industrialised and a reminder that this is quite an urban area
I must return here.
That first sight of the Clifton Bridge is still arresting.
It’s a long uphill grind. WOuldn’t want to do this every day.
These motors open sectional windbreaks designed to control wind effects on vehicles passing the bridge towers.