Thursday, 7 November 2013

The boat graveyard

I needed a walk today.  Just some fresh air and a wander.  I've wanted to photograph a quilt and a blanket I have for a while, outside in good light.  So this morning I made a quick trip to Purton, a little village on the banks of the River Severn.  I parked near the lovely little church.


A canal runs along parallel to the river, with a tow path and bank between the two.


This lovely narrowboat was waiting for the bridge to swing to allow her through.


As you progress down the tow path, the space between the river and the canal narrows.


These pictures are taken from right beside the canal, and you can see how close the river is.


You can see how muddy it was, after days of west country rain.

But we're almost there now.


The ships graveyard.  If I had to sum up this place, this narrow, bleak strip of land between river and canal in one word, it would be godforsaken.  That's not to say that I don't like it here.  But it's not a pretty, cosy kind of place.  The river is wide and full of swirling currents and eddies and dangerous mudbanks.  The canal is bordered by odd bits of rusting machinery.  And then there's the graveyard.


This is a tall post with the names of many of the boats that have, over the years, been beached on the banks of the Severn.   Their function, in their final resting place, is to help prevent erosion.

Past here, the boats begin.  One after another, rotting gently in the mud.  Some metal, some with decaying wooden ribs, some clearly visible and some just a few pieces left poking out of the grass.


There are plaques alongside each one with a few details on.  I didn't have much time today, but one day I'd like to spend longer exploring here.





It amazes me how the wooden parts of the boats are still here.  Everything is gradually melding with the natural landscape, but despite the mud and the water everywhere there are still solid planks there, year after year after year.


I'd had it in mind to take pictures on a foggy day, with mist drifting eerily over the boat carcases.  But I didn't check the weather, and the sun came out.  I'll try and do better next time.  But at least it meant good views across the river to the opposite bank, which is still Gloucestershire, and not far from the Forest of Dean.


On the way back I stuck to the tow path, because the river bank was so muddy.  You can see how close the two are, the photo below is the river, and turning 180 degrees so my back was to the river you can see the canal in the following picture.



In keeping with the dangerous nature of the place I spotted masses of these berries in the hedgerow.  I think they're deadly nightshade.  If it is, it's well named.  Just a few berries can be fatal.  And it's not a good way to go.


I'll put the photos of the quilt and blanket on another post.  And I haven't forgotten the bread, although I do forget to take pictures of things before we eat them.  I'll never make a food photographer.  But I do apparently have a talent.  I found this out following this afternoon's school talent show.  There was a pause at the end for everyone to bow their heads and think about their own talents.  Later on, around the tea table, I happened to mention that I couldn't think of any.  I am completely without talent.  The littlest had a think.  And then said, "You do have a talent mummy.  It's doing the washing-up."  How happy this makes me.  It doesn't have to be a big talent.  Any one will do.  I'll take washing-up.  I am pretty good at it.

41 comments:

  1. Wow stunning photos. This is why I love England.
    http://saltskinned.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Thank you Anita, and thanks for visiting.

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  2. This post was just the dreamy, beautiful thing I needed to read and see today. These photos are beautiful, and I could just wander around this ship graveyard for hours. It amazes me, too, how wood that used to make up ships from so long ago can still be here. Just breathtaking. Thanks for the walkabout:)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Kari. It was a nice break for me too, to have a quick visit there. I could definitely spend much longer there, and walk further along the river bank. Especially if I had the right footwear - it was muddy!

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  3. Amazing, I didn't know this place existed.
    Children are so tactful. :)

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    1. Indeed they are, they always make me laugh though.

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  4. It looks beautiful - Like rusty duck I didn't know this place existed. I have come over to find you following your comment on my recent sourdough post for which many thanks. I will be adding your blog to my list of blogs I follow especially as it seems you live near the Forest of Dean which is where my own roots lie.

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    1. Thanks Marigold Jam, it was a pleasure to visit your blog. I'll be interested to see how the sourdough turns out!

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  5. What a wonderful little walk. I suppose canals and rivers are a natural to go together but certainly not so picturesque in many places. Always amazed me at work if we uncovered any timbers in the foundations of old masonry arch bridges how timber submerged in water remained in such good condition.

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  6. Thanks for taking us on such a beautiful walk, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  7. I enjoyed going on this walk with you, CJ. The photographs are very evocative. I would love to visit this place sometime. Can I just say, please don't put yourself down. It takes guts and strength to raise three boys. You grow and write and create. You have shown me such kindness and generosity in your comments on my blog.

    And I'm sure that you are the best washer upper ever!

    Leanne xx

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    1. Leanne, your comments are so very kind, thank you.

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  8. What a great place for a walk, the river on one side and the canal on the other, not to mention the boat graveyard, that must be so interesting, especially reading all the plaques. Glad to hear you have a talent for washing up, I use a dishwasher so I don't even have a talent for that.

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    1. The boat graveyard is really interesting, I could spend ages there. Next time a longer visit I think.

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  9. So glad I found your blog, CJ! I laughed out loud at the talent spotting from your youngest! So funny! Kids are great, aren't they, with the stuff they come out with! Loved reading about the boat graveyard too - it's not far from my sister's house (about 5 miles by the looks of things) so she probably knows about it. Love that you can look across to the Forest of Dean; it's a magical area which I know and love, having spent many happy summers there camping when the kids were younger. And I too am usually mid-bite when I remember that I meant to photograph said item for my blog! Have a happy day!

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    1. The boys do always make me laugh, every day, without fail. The Forest of Dean is magical, you are right. It's somewhere we don't go often enough. Glad it's not just me that forgets to photograph food.

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  10. I love this post. This looks like a beautiful place and you wrote so interestingly about it. I love the idea of the boats just rotting away, back to the earth, blending in with the landscape. I enjoyed seeing the deadly nightshade too; we have a species here called desert nightshade and the berries look like tiny orange tomatoes. I think it's wonderful to have a known talent, whatever it may be. Around here, they'd probably tell me that I'm good at the laundry - I get it all done quickly, I fold neatly and put it away in meticulous stacks in the drawers. So I've got that going for me. :)

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    1. It is beautiful there, and the boats are somehow going from being man-made contraptions to being almost part of nature. Lovely. Well done on your laundry skills. The world needs women like us!

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  11. You have a talent as a writer and photographer as well as washer upper.

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  12. Thank you for taking us on your walk. I feel all relaxed after reading your post (after a stressful workday), as if I went on a calming walk myself. You certainly have a talent there, and we haven't even seen your quilt yet!

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  13. A most enjoyable, and interesting, post with fascinating photos. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you Flighty, glad you enjoyed it.

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  14. Hey, I can do the washing-up, too :) Perhaps we should start a club ?

    Seriously, though - Sue Garrett has said what I wanted to. Do not sell yourself short.

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    1. Where would we be without washer-uppers?! Thanks Allegra.

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  15. Strikes me you're a pretty talented blogger too. Yours are always must read posts for me. You find the fascinating in the everyday. And that includes the boat's graveyard, which is definitely my kind of place :)

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    1. Thanks Annie, glad you liked the boat graveyard.

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  16. Thank you for taking me on this walk with you, it has been such joy. Your photos are so descriptive and you write so well. I would love to visit this place one day, it looks like the perfect sanctuary. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for your lovely and supportive comment, it really touched me by beyond words. I hope you have a good weekend and apart from being good at washing up you're petty amazing at blogging!! Xoxo

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    1. Thank you Hannapat, it was lovely to find your blog and read some of your story. I am thinking of you.

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  17. A lovely wander through a landscape of rivers and canals. I think a boat graveyard has a sort of sadness about it - which is completely missing from a car scrap yard! It's interesting that these old boats have a use, even now.

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    1. It does indeed, it is a very atmospheric place. I'd love to go there when there's a mist rolling in.

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  18. Looks lovely, makes the mind wonder too.

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  19. Your photos of old boats brought back memories of visiting Berrow beach and the ship wreck.

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    1. I've just googled Berrow beach shipwreck, and it looks lovely. Some amazing photos of it out there. It's not too far from here, so I shall try and visit sometime.

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  20. The church and canal looks so lovely. I was fascinated to see and read about the Purtons Ship graveyard. I assume that it has helped to prevent erosion over the years. My GG Grandfather was a captain of a ship called the Monarch and sailed out of Bristol it looks like the Monarch that ended here up was a trow, it must have be a popular name for a boat.
    Sarah x

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  21. What lovely, evocative photos. I think it looks wintry in places. I love the idea of a boat's graveyard, how spooky and rather wonderful. x

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  22. Exceptionally beautiful photos, such an amazing place to visit. So glad you took us along.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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