Bridges not too far.

When I did my original trip to Bristol in January 2014,I decided that on my next trip (whenever that was) would take in the Clifton Suspension Bridge, assuming I could find it and get to it from where I was on that particular day. However, my plans did not happen and I have still not gotten back to Bristol. Yesterday, while on a trip to Lymington I mentioned that I would really like to see this bridge, and seeing as we had to go past Bristol could we stop by on the way? and having some time to kill we did so on the way back. And what a score it was. Naturally finding it was troublesome, I only know Bristol from the area around the station, the cemetery and the SS Great Britain, so we really had to rely on the GPS to get us close, and then work at it from there. Eventually, after traversing the town we spotted the bridge in the distance.

And now for the weather: as you can see above it was cloudy and gloomy and not really photography weather, but we still had to find the route to the bridge, and by the time we did the weather was clearing and the view turned out so much better. The odd thing is, that for such a landmark structure it is really very poorly signposted, so we struggled to get up there.  Eventually we found our way and we were soon on the approaches of the bridge. Please deposit £1 in the slot!

The tower that we now approached was sheathed in plastic as it was being restored, so it did detract from the approach.  We parked close by and walked down to the bridge, although you could not really see it from where we had parked. And then we were there. And what a beautiful bridge she is. This is the Leigh Woods Tower. 

At first I thought that it was a Brunel built bridge, but in reality it is based on his design, Brunel never saw the completion of the structure.  The view from the bridge is stunning, and it depends on whichever lane or side you are on at the time.

This image is taken towards the Avon Gorge from the Leigh Woods Tower. Out of frame on the right hand side of the image is what I assume is a lookout tower, or possibly a guard tower (aka The Observatory), and that was the destination we had in mind as we headed across the bridge.

It was from that point where we would get our best views of the bridge. The purpose of the tower still puzzles me and I will have to do some reading about it. Oddly enough there was no information board on the tower.

The wrapped tower is the Clifton Tower, and it is not identical to the Leigh Woods Tower. 

This view is of the Avon Gorge, and is taken from the park on the Clifton Tower side. 

The park is dominated by the Observatory, and the small blue oddity at the foot of it is a Shaun the Sheep figurine.   And the best views of the bridge are from here.

The major difference between the Leigh Wood Tower above and the Clifton Tower are cutouts on the Clifton Tower, although that tower is wrapped in plastic and cannot be seen in any detail. 

A travelling gantry is used to perform maintenance on the roadway, and the guard rails now include a anti suicide precautions because the bridge does have a high suicide rate. Only recently an elderly lady jumped from the bridge area after being hounded by “charities”. And then it was time to recross and head for the car.

The view from this side is of the approaches to Bristol along the Avon. This used to be a very active waterway, and one of the stipulations around the bridge was that it had to be high enough for tall masted ships to pass under it. Sadly, only two yachts transited while we were there.

The Leigh Wood Tower has the Latin motto “Suspensa Vix Via Fit” which translates as ““A suspended way made with difficulty”

The bridge is a testament to the Victorian Engineer and those who have vision. It was completed in 1864, and sadly Brunel never got to see the end result.

Leaving Bristol we headed North, and then West towards Wales and the two bridges that span the Severn Estuary. It was really one of those whim moments and I am glad that we did do this slightly expensive detour. The first bridge we crossed over the Severn on was the Second Severn crossing, and it was inaugurated in 1996.  Unfortunately time was marching so we did not go looking for a vantage point, and the images taken here are from the car and through the windscreen. It is a toll bridge (Deposit £6.50 in the slot please).

This bridge is a cable stay bridge and links South Wales and England at the Severn Estuary. Our return trip after our brief sojourn in Wales was over the M48 Wye Bridge and Viaduct, The Wye Bridge is of a stayed girder construction and is located between Beachley in Gloucestershire and Chepstow in Monmouthshire.


These are relatively modern bridges and have an attraction all of their own. They are functional and have the modern lack of aesthetics so beloved of the Victorians. Would Brunel have approved? I don’t know, he would have probably lined them with brick and added a lion or a sphinx or two.

Bridges are structures that are with us for a long time. The Clifton Suspension Bridge has been around over a century and hopefully will still be there in another 100 years time. These two will probably be with us for a long time too. They become part of the scenery, and as far as I am concerned enhance the view, because they are still amongst the most beautiful structures that mankind erects. 

© DRW 2015-2022. Created 02/08/2015, images migrated 01/05/2016 

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