April 20 – A walk around Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

Picnic in the Park

Hello from 1066 –  A Medieval Mosaic

We spent most of the day at our housesit.

About 6.30 we decided to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge. There were no big car parks so we had to park on a street nearby. Lots of people were in cafes and pubs enjoying the heat in the early evening and lots of people were on the hill above the suspension bridge having picnics and playing on the iron age fort. We did two geocaches, one was a virtual where we had to stand in the middle of the bridge about the man who built the bridge – Isambard Kingdom Brunel. We had to answer four questions and post a photograph of me on the bridge. On the opposite side of the bridge, we did an earthcache called ‘Gorgeous’ where again we had to answer some questions and post a photograph.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon linking Bristol and North Somerset. It is 412 metres long, 9.4 metres wide and 101 metres above the water. It was opened in 1864 and has three independent wrought iron chains per side. Roller-mounted “saddles” at the top of each tower allow movement of the chains when loads pass over the bridge. The bridge deck is suspended by 162 vertical wrought-iron rods in 81 matching pairs. The bridge is built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Ten men were killed during the construction of the bridge. In 1885, a 22-year-old woman named Sarah Ann Henley survived a suicide attempt off the bridge when her billowing skirts acted as a parachute and she landed in the thick mud banks of the tidal River Avon at low tide, she subsequently lived into her eighties.

The first modern bungee jumps were made on 1 April 1979 from the 250-foot, 76 metre Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, by David Kirke, and Simon Keeling, members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club. The students had come up with the idea after discussing a “vine jumping” ritual carried out by certain residents of Vanuatu.  A.J. Hackett organised the first permanent commercial bungee jumping site in 1988 on the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge near Queenstown, New Zealand.

A really lovely warm evening in a special place.