This week we headed up the M5 to Tewkesbury a small Gloucestershire town close to the river Severn on the western edge of the Cotswolds. The town was the site of a decisive battle in the wars of the Roses. It has a magnificent Norman abbey and a remarkably well preserved old town full of black and white half timbered houses with overhanging upper storeys.
We went further up the Wye valley for our Sunday walk to Monmouth a small market town that lies at the confluence of the rivers Monnow and Wye. The settlement was first mentioned on a Roman map as Blestium , a place on the road from Caerleon to Gloucester. It is close to Offa’s Dyke the earth wall that Offa built to separate England and Wales in the 8th century. Its position meant that it needed to be heavily defended.
In the Domesday book it was described as a settlement with inferior farmland. However it became more prominent under the Normans. Geoffrey of Monmouth a celebrated medieval historian probably lived in Monmouth Priory and Henry V was born at Monmouth Castle.
The Frome valley riverside walkway forms a green corridor from the Bristol harbourside for about twenty miles to the source of the river Frome in Dodington Park near Chipping Sodbury on the edge of the Cotswolds. Last week our walking group covered the first five miles from the centre of the city east through the inner city with its graffiti and litter on through Eastville Park and Oldbury Court estate to Frenchay. The green corridor means that otters, bats, foxes squirrels and rabbits can often be seen in the heart of the city. Part of the walkway is close to where we live and we often spot cormorants, kingfishers and herons waiting to catch something for their dinner. Continue reading “Frome riverside walkway”
This week we tackled a more difficult subject for our walk in the past walk – the Bristol slave trade.
It is an uncomfortable but undeniable fact that much of Bristol’s prosperity came from the slave trade. Slavery is thousands of years old. The Romans brought slaves to Britain and Celtic tribes traded slaves. However with the discovery of America in 1492 new opportunities for the trade were created.
Europeans found the hot humid conditions of the south difficult to work in but loved crops like cotton, tobacco and sugar that could be grown there. One solution was to take people from Africa who were used to a hot climate and transport them to America
A triangular trade was started. Manufactured goods and guns were traded along the coast of Africa for slaves who were taken to America and the West Indies and sold for goods like sugar and tobacco which were brought back to Europe.
The numbers involved are staggering. It has been estimated that about 13 million people may have left African ports as slaves. Portugal has the dubious honour of being the most important slave trading nation with Britain second. Continue reading “Bristol and the slave trade”
Clifton suspension bridge which spans the river Avon has become the symbol of Bristol. This post is about the bridge’s designer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Last Sunday our walk in the past walking group walked from Temple Meads railway station to Clifton Suspension bridge to see some of his legacy to the city. Our route round the old docks and up into Clifton is very popular with visitors to Bristol. The river Avon is too tidal and shallow for large boats to come into the heart of Bristol and the docks have been transformed into an area for pleasure craft with modern flats and restaurants. Continue reading “Brunel and Bristol”