We spent a weekend in Bristol last month to celebrate Daddy P’s 50th birthday. I’d planned a number of ideas for his surprise weekend, but hadn’t spotted the Bristol Harbour Railway on my map. As we walked along the floating harbour towards SS Great Britain we could see steam, the sort of steam we associate with a steam train. There were squeals of delight from Monkey when we spotted the Bristol Harbour Railway loco steaming up for the day.
The Bristol Harbour Railway dates back to the early 1870’s although only a small part of the line is still operational now. Run by M Shed, the railway runs on weekends (although I believe it closes from the end of October until some point in the new year). The train runs for about 1 mile with return trips to either SS Great Britain or Ashton Bridge, for a few pounds.
We decided to catch the train after we’d been to explore SS Great Britain and followed it back along the track back to M Shed.
The next trip was running back to SS Great Britain but we decided to wait and take the following trip which would see the Loco Portbury take us to Ashton Bridge along the New Cut waterway.
The round trips take about 15 minutes, so we didn’t have too long to wait until we could board. With Monkey being first in line, there was no question where we’d be sitting. As close to the loco as possible.
The Floating Harbour area of Bristol city centre is fascinating and a wonderful place to explore and imagine the bygone industrial era. The hustle and bustle of a busy dockside, a far cry from the area now.
We passed the replica of The Matthew, John Cabot’s ship that he sailed and discovered Newfoundland in, and various other tall ships along the way.
Before we headed off along the New Cut, behind the industrial past of Bristol to the end of the line, and then headed back whence we came.
As we returned to the end of the line we looked out across to Harbourside and spotted more steam, this time in the shape of the Steam Tug SS Mayflower, at 150 years of age, the oldest steam tug in the world. Of course, we knew exactly where we were heading next, but I’ll save that adventure for another day.
We can thoroughly recommend a trip on the Bristol Harbour Railway if you’re in Bristol and it’s running. It’s a lovely way to take in the area, give your feet a rest and enjoy the the scenery.