Sunday 24 March 2013

Taking a Pill for Portishead [2]

Confusion Continues in Sheffield?
After yesterday's poor information service from Travel South Yorkshire, things are looking better today; but are they? Here is TSY at 0802, simply reprinting a First Bus list posted at 0745:-

FIRST BUS [an extract]

52 - Hillsborough to Brookhill via Langsett Road & Infirmary Road, then as normal to Handsworth, whilst at Woodhouse buses running Retford Road through to Fence roundabout, omitting Beever (? try "Beaver") Hill and Badger Estate (Crookes tested and area not suitable for buses at present)

120 - Hallamshire Hospital turnround to Crystal Peaks/Halfway via normal route. Not using Halfway Centre, turning left after Streetfield Centre. (meaning, please??)

Fair enough? But scroll down a bit and here is the note for Stagecoach:-

All services running normally (fbb's emphasis) except: 57 which is only using main roads (Manchester Rd) (this is a very significant diversion, missing out 50% of the normal route - fbb)

Good work Stagecoach! Except that Stagecoach and First operate jointly on the 52 and 120. Apparently Stagecoach vehicles are running OK but First have problems. So do we assume that Uncle Brian's buses run better in snow whilst Uncle Giles' can't manage?

Or is information still unreliable?
route 95 still suspended?
Today's the day that the Paris Metro people (RATP aka Bath Bus Company) start running to Bristol International Airport from Bath, Keynsham (which is spelt K E Y N S H A M as per Horace Batchelor; that shows fbb's age!), and South Bristol.
It uses "fettled-up" vehicles from fellow RATP company London United.
Meanwhile, also near Bristol ...

A walking Pill is hard to swallow!
Yesterday, we saw that the old (mediaeval?) row-boat ferry from Pill to Portishead sank without trace in 1974 (i.e. was withdrawn.) But what caught ffb's eye was a note in one of his research sources that revealed that a replacement was provided

fbb's mind turned to locations further up-river and nearer to central Bristol. The next crossing is, of course, Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge.
But the article did not say "available", but "provided"; implying that something specific was done to facilitate pedestrian crossing of the river Avon.  So come with fbb on a virtual walk across the river, using the alternative method created in response to the closure of the original boat service.

 Stage 1 
Starting from the original ferry slip in Pill, we walk along Marine Parade ...
... and into the appropriately named Avon Road. Here we espy a couple of small blue direction signs ...
... which appear to lead to a small yard containing a couple of garages.
The path through the trees leads under the railway line and back into another part of the village, but keeping those trees on your left, we strike out into open country ...
... under the railway which curves northwards and we continue beside some miscellaneous ponds. This bit of line is a new-build, from 2002 linking part of the re-opened Portishead branch to the extensive Portbury Docks but for freight only. Our footpath follows the line of the original and now-lifted track which once led to Portsihead itself.

 Stage 2 
But here comes the surprise. The route then turns suddenly sharp right and leads the walker up onto ...
... the M5 viaduct. Yep, you guessed it; the replacement for the Pill Ferry is the M5! And here are some cyclists actually doing it.
The views from way up here are spectacular and well worth the effort; even if you are spooked by the noise of the traffic rushing past just over that fence. And even more spooked as the bridge bounces up and down with the passing of each heavy truck.

 Stage 3 
You descend from the viaduct at the Avonmouth Road ...
... where you turn right and immediately right again; walking back to where the motorway crosses the main A4.
You have just walked "up there"! Here you bear left and walk some considerable distance along Portway, the busy main road that leads from Bristol to the Avonmouth Docks.

 Stage 4 
Eventually you come to this footbridge, thoughtfully provided for the citizens of Shirehampton whose route to their railway station (via Station Road) was severed when the Portway was completed in 1926.
Route 902 connects the Park and Ride site - located on the A4 Portway in Shirehampton to the North West of the city – and the city centre. The service also serves several bus stops along the Portway. The journey time from the Park & Ride site into Central Bristol is approximately 30 minutes.

Cross the bridge and walk down Station Road and under the railway ...
... and in just a few short minutes you will arrive at ...
... the former Shirehampton ferry slip.

Now the ferry crossing (dark blue) is about 100 yards.
As an alternative we have just walked (virtually thankfully!) just under three miles (magenta). So it is not at all surprising that very few use the alternative.

Of course you could go by bus. Option 1 would be to travel to Portishead, change to the X25 over the motorway bridge, then to a local bus east from Avonmouth to Shirehampton. Option 2 (and possibly easier) would be a bus to Hotwells then a trip west along the Portway to the aforementioned footbridge. At some stage in the remote future, you might (perhaps?) be able to catch a train from Pill to Bristol, then another train back to Shirehampton.

Or go by car.

But it is changes to Pill's bus service from today, Sunday 24th March, that set fbb off on his investigations. And we return to the subject on Tuesday after a brief expedition to Glasgow.

 Next bus blog : Monday 25th March 
As he rode on, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near Jerusalem, at the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives, the large crowd of his disciples began to thank God and praise him in loud voices for all the great things that they had seen: “God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God!”
Today is Palm Sunday, and the start of an amazing week leading to the death of Yeshua [Joshua in English, Jesus in Greek] on a cross. His entry into Jerusalem is one huge visual aid. The ride on a donkey, cloaks and palm leaves on the road and the acclaim of his followers were all images of a victorious King entering into a City that He has just conquered; but entering in peace to take His rightful place on the throne.

But there are niggles. Where was His rightful throne? And, if He were victorious, how come He was nailed to the cross a few days later? And where were the people who welcomed Him so enthusiastically on Palm Sunday when the crowd called for the release of a murderer (rather than an innocent) at the end of the week?

It is in the answers to these niggles that the essence of the Christian message is contained.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes Hosanna cry;
O Savior meek, pursue Thy road
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father, on His sapphire throne,
Expects His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
 Then take, O God, Thy power, and reign.


  1. Green destination display on the Air Decker I see, thought that was illegal?

  2. The M2 motorway bridge across the River Medway (at a height of 116ft above river level) also has a foot and cycle path along side it. Indeed, until widening about 10 years ago, there was such a path on both the north and south sides of the bridge - now it's only on the former.
    (Booklet celebrating its opening available here:

    Although historically there were ferries across the Medway, I think most had long disappeared by the time the motorway opened in 1963.

  3. Stagecoach 120 is NOT running normally. I overlook the terminus at 'Fulwood' (sic) and can confirm hat nothing is running.A lot of gritting, ploughing, shovelling etc will be necessary first.

  4. Responses : NeilI was once told, hundreds of years ago, that one of the Manchester municipalities (Bolton?) had to change its blind colour from red, (for some special service, limited stop, perhaps?), as ít was illegal to show a red light at the front of any vehicle. Several operators are now using multi-coloured LEDs for blind display.
    Thanks Man of Kent I certainly did not know that! and Thanks Dennis Drat. It did seen very likely that it was the information that as still generally useless!

  5. I read your article with great interest as l live in Shire.Last year l was able to travel by train from Pill to Shirehampton.A special charter (The Severnsider) went from Bristol to Portbury, via Pill and returned to Bristol. It then went on to Avonmouth and Shirehampton via the Henbury Loop before returning to Bristol.The X25 does not stop near Avonmouth,so a change at Cribbs Causeway for a service 40 to Shire would be needed. l saw two Air Deckers in service today and they had more air than passengers!