Bristol’s Floating Harbour doesn’t float, so why is it called that? It takes a bit of explaining, but to understand what the Floating Harbour is will help to explain why Bristol’s maritime history was so important to the city for so long.
The port developed approximately 8 miles from the mouth of the River Avon during the 11th century, which at the time would have had the distinct advantage of being in a very sheltered location. Not only that, the River Severn has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world, which meant that the fast-flowing tide could bring ships swiftly up the Severn and the Avon to the protection of Bristol’s inland harbour.
For centuries it worked well, but as the ships got bigger things became a bit more complicated. Anyone who has witnessed the ebb and flow of these rivers will know only too well how quickly the tide can go out as well as come in, and the bigger the ships became, the more often they got stuck in the mud – and there’s plenty of that here.
There are any number of things that will make a great day out in South Devon, but in my opinion, one of the best has to be the ‘RoundRobin’. It comprises of different modes of transport linking Paignton, Dartmouth, and Totnes and can be done in any order, and in any direction.
An Open Top Bus will take you from Paignton to Totnes, where you can spend some time in the town before catching the boat which sails down the River Dart to Dartmouth. You can then have another wander around before catching the ferry across to Kingswear, and then the steam train back to Paignton. It’s all very civilized and the Round Robin ticket covers everything.
You don’t have to do the whole trip in one go of course, and to describe it all in one article wouldn’t really do it justice, and so I’ve decided to just talk about the steam train journey for now.