Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

When we were enjoying a steam train ride in Bristol last month, we spotted the opportunity to try something different. We’d timed our visit to the city just right, and would continue exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower.

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

The Mayflower is the oldest steam tug in the world, being 155 years old this year, and we were lucky enough to take a ride on her from the quayside outside M Shed.

We’d seen Mayflower from the train and mentioned taking a ride aboard her with Monkey. For the last few years he’s had a real issue with getting on boats of any kind and we could see a little wobble coming.  We were away for Daddy P’s 50th birthday, so I talked to him about his Daddy really wanting to go on the steam tug, how rare it was, and how gentle. No white knuckle ride.  Finally we persuaded Monkey to give it a go, and queued up for our tickets.

Once on board, we secured seats above the engine room, toasty warm on a chilly October afternoon!

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower takes about half an hour, and leaves from outside M Shed and travels up past SS Great Britain before turning back.

We got to view the harbour from a different view-point and just sit back and relax.  WE could look across to the Arnolfini Arts Centre and the amphitheatre with a tall ship moored in front.

As the Mayflower set off on our trip Monkey began to relax and realised that we were in for a very gentle ride onboard.

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

Daddy P pointed out different things along the way, some of which Monkey recognised from our earlier train ride.  Two peas in a pod springs to mind.

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

We’d had a chance to look around the wooden replica The Matthew earlier in the day, and it was lovely to see it again from a different vantage point.

We saw all manner of boats as we steamed along the Floating Harbour.  Monkey thought it was brilliant when we spotted a boat called Beatnik.  He’d fallen in love with a pony with the same name when we were staying in Cornwall.  Mummy, he’s got his own boat!!

There were hints of a thriving industrial past, a colourful present,

and more recent epic endeavour, as we spotted Northabout, recently returned from the Polar Ocean Challenge.

Of course a highlight of exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower, was to see SS Great Britain from the water.  It’s such an amazing vessel, and somewhere we’d thoroughly enjoyed exploring.  More on that in a future post.  But if you ever get the chance to visit, do!

As we headed back to M Shed we spotted steam across the way, the steam train was coming to bid us farewell.

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

Back past the docks and the cranes.

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

Back to M Shed, a hot drink and a new adventure.


Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower was a great little adventure, something Monkey won’t forget.   It doesn’t look as if the steam tug runs trips around the harbour during the winter months.  But if you’re visiting Bristol at any point, we all thoroughly recommend a walk along the Floating Harbour.  There’s so much to take in and enjoy.

Have you been?  Maybe you’d like to pin this for later?

Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower


Country Kids

8 thoughts on “Exploring Bristol Floating Harbour aboard Mayflower

  1. Exploring the floating harbour at Bristol aboard the Mayflower sounds like such a brilliant experience for you all. It’s great that Monkey braved the trip and actually enjoyed it once he got past his biggest fear of getting onto the boat. I bet it was amazing to see the Matthew and the SS Great Britain from the water, it really gives you a different perspective of them doesn’t it?

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

  2. We love visiting Bristol Harbour. We visited the M-Shed over the Summer holidays to see the Children’s TV exhibition…I got to see Gordon the Gopher! My daughter went on a school trip to SS Great Britain & absolutely loved it, she’s desperate to go back again #countrykids

  3. It is amazing when you talk about Monkey not wanting to go on boats, and now look!!
    Seeing the sights from the sea puts such a different perspective on it, and the colours of the houses and the masts of the other boats paint a brilliant picture of life by the river. You can almost imagine what it must’ve been like in the industrial times, when the ports were busy and a main source of transport,
    So glad you had a brilliant day out. Next time we go to Bristol we’ll make sure to get onto a boat!

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