Bristol and Bath Bike Path by Brompton

The last time I cycled on the Bristol and Bath Bike Path must have been in 1987 when I was a student living in Bath.

The path has been upgraded considerably in the last 26 years and it is now fully tarmacked whereas when I used it previously it was mainly a loose surface and only tarmacked at the Bristol end from the tunnel onwards.

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The first challenge was actually getting the bike to Bristol as the train we selected was only half the length that it should have been, 4 carriages instead of 8, and this meant that a lot of people had to stand.

When we boarded the train at Taunton the luggage racks were full and we could not even move down the train with our folded Bromptons as the aisles were full of standing passengers.

As chance would have it we were next to the 1st class carriage so I thought I’d check if there were any empty seats and luckily there were 2 (but in different parts of the carriage) so we sat down in the knowledge that there would be a £5 per seat “weekend first” upgrade fee.   Amazingly no one came to check tickets during the 25 minute trip to Bristol Temple meads so we at least did not have to pay extra simply to get a seat.

Once we arrived at Temple meads it was decided that a half pint each of a Cotleigh porter beer at the Knight’s Templar pub would be a good idea after the less than ideal Brompton train experience, in preparation for the 16 mile bike path to Bath.

Just next to the Station was a “Brompton Dock” where you can rent a Brompton for either £2.50 per day of £5 per day (dependant on membership type), but luckily this handy facility was not required on this occasion.

The Path

The start of the path is quite easy to find, as it’s just across the river at the side of the station, along a road called “chimney steps” and there is even a new steel bridge leading to the start.

The path follows the course of an old railway, but there are a few bits where is deviates from the course.   After a couple of minutes on the actual path, the path sort of leads onto an industrial estate, and you are suddenly diverted onto the side of the busy St Philips Causeway dual carriageway.   This soon diverts through the grounds of some tower blocks at Lawrence Hill before rejoining the railway path again.

Over the next 2 to 3 miles the path gradually heads north east towards Fishponds with a slight uphill incline.   There is a tunnel at this point and you can feel the temperature drop as you enter the tunnel, it’s about 400 long.

It looks like the siston hill roundabout was built in such a way that it interrupted the course of the path, as the path diverts around the roundabout using bridges across the busy ring road.

It then heads south towards the A431 Bath Road, and there is a steam railway visitor centre next to this road.

This picture shows one of the steam trains.

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We were actually “racing” a steam train at one point but they go pretty fast.

The path then gets more rural as it heads to Bath, and crosses the river avon an amazing 4 times before reaching Bath.

Once it gets to the Bath suburbs it suddenly stops at Brassmill Lane and for about a half mile there is a “gap” where you have to cycle along a normal road (not much traffic luckily) and the  it continues along the riverside till it reaches central Bath, and Bath Spa station.

The riverside path is quite narrow at places, but beats mixing with city centre traffic.

At the end of the path is Southgate shopping centre and we had a beer & pizza at Pizza Express.

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They found us a table with plenty of space for the Bromptons.  The table was near the bit where the staff hang out so I’d probably sit nearer the window if I went there again, but the pizza seemed pretty good.

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We got a 1 way ticket back to Temple Meads from Bath Spa, and the train was pretty packed, so we did the “weekend first” and yet again did not get asked for tickets, so no upgrade fee was payable luckily.     The lady next to us was complaining at great length to the guard that she pays £1000’s per year for a 1st class season ticket as she runs a jewellery business so has to travel to London often, but she is fed up with people sitting in 1st class who only have 2nd class tickets!

Luckily I think her complaint was aimed at the noisy group of football fans behind her rather than us.

Anyway, once we got to Temple Meads the train almost totally emptied its load of passengers (mainly football fans I think) so we move the Bromptons and ourselves to the 2nd class section of the train, mainly to avoid an upgrade fee, which is not really worth paying if standard class is almost empty!

Here you can just about see one of the Bromptons which fits nicely between the seats, although this only really works if the train has some empty seats as people would get annoyed if they had to stand if the only spare seats were occupied with Brompton bikes.

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Copenhagen Trip 8/9/13-11/9/13

Day 1 (8/9/13)

Unusually I did not really take many pictures the first day, as I had packed my camera in my rucksack for the flight from Bristol to Copenhagen.   I normally carry my camera in my pocket most of the time when travelling.   Luckily there was a very handy restaurant only 3 doors down the street from the Hotel, called Frk Barners Kælder which served traditional Danish food, and they serve Carlsberg draught beer in a handy 0.7 litre size glass.   The only problem is that beer is quite a bit more pricey than in the UK, almost twice as much.

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Day 2 (9/9/13)

The Hotel was quite near the central station, but this was a good 20 minutes walk to the city centre, so the plan was to walk to Nyhavn, and I used the handy Google Maps walking route finder which estimated a half hour walk.

A decorated model elephant.

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There was a green Brompton bike which was chained up just by its front wheel!   I have a Brompton and I would not chain it up on a public sidewalk like this and certainly NOT just by the front wheel like this.    This looks like an M2R model with Shimano hub dynamo.

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Being a keen cyclist it was good to see just how many people cycle in Copenhagen and almost every road apart from the quiet back streets seemed to have their own dedicated cycle lane, which was separated from the main carriageway by a raised step.   The provision for cyclists here in the UK is almost non existent in comparison, usually just a painted white line, which often has parked cars in it rendering it useless.  In fact I don’t think I saw a single car parked in a cycle lane the whole time I was there, probably because most motorists also ride a bike so can see the annoyance it must cause.

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Getting a bit nearer to Nyhavn here, about half way, when the pavement suddenly stops and only bikes are allowed, no pedestrians!

Crossing the road is tricky as you have to be aware of both bikes and motor vehicles!

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There are a lot of cargo type bikes like this one, where you could carry shopping (or even a kid if you have one!)

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This is an unusual sign with 2 cyclists facing each other.

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Finally now at Nyhavn – this is a Danish style phone booth on the quayside

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There was a handy eatery called “Els” at Nyhavn, and it was just away from the main ultra-touristy bit on the quayside.   The service was very good and they had a large barrel of Carlsberg outside on the pavement.

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It was about 2.30pm by now and had just started raining, but there were radiant heaters and “Carlsberg” blankets for warmth.

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This is the food that was served, quite simple but very tasty.   Eating out in Copenhagen is about 50% more expensive than the UK at a guess – the bill was about £60 but still worth it compared with what other nearby places were charging.   You are not expected to tip in Copenhagen which is just as well, but the service here was excellent, even though the waitress was not relying on tips like in some other countries.

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It really did start to hammer down while we ate our lunch and luckily the large awnings above the tables offered protection from the rain.   Here a crafty Danish businessman on a bike is using an umbrella whilst cycling.

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There was an interesting arrangement in the gent’s loo with the WC right next to the urinal with no separate cubicle like you get in the UK, just a small metal barrier to offer an element of privacy.

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As it was too wet to walk back to the Hotel it was decided that we would hop on a tour boat which cost 100DK per head for a 1 hour trip (about £12 per head).     Here is the view of Nyhavn from the boat.

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Luckily there is a separate window for each row of 4 seats and we found two rows of seats next to each other, so we each had a window seat.     We were the only people on the whole boat that actually opened our windows, and the rain did sort of pour in as a result BUT it meant we got a proper view of the outside rather than just a view of a misted up window!

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Here we are out in the middle of the main central canal.

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This is the “little mermaid” which is normally like a tourist honey pot, but almost deserted due to the heavy rain.

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The iconic modern opera building – pretty cool

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This interesting church is the same one that I visited on “Day 4”

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The building on the left is know as the “Black Diamond”

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A view through the rain covered roof window

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I was tracking the path of the boat using google maps, and noticed that rather than simply get off at Nyhavn again, it would make more sense to get off earlier as it docked near the central shopping area near the “stork fountain”.   This is near the “old town” of central Copenhagen known as “indre by” and is very different to the area near the hotel and station.

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This area has one of the longest ever pedestrianised shopping streets, and led directly towards our route back to the hotel.   I can thank google maps walking routes function for finding the handy route.

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Below is a shop full of lego characters

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Two local girls push their traditional style bikes through the street – cycling is banned from this narrow street

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When the rain gets really bad there are handy ponchos available with “I ♥ CPH” on them.

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Almost back to the Hotel now – there were “full nude shows” in the same street as this is I understand the “red light” district of Copenhagen.

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The Hotel itself – The Andersen Hotel

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We found it via trip advisor and it was reasonably priced yet still a good hotel

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They even threw in a nicely chilled bottle of fizzy wine which saved the cost of buying more expensive beer the second evening.

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OK no beer, but a cocktail seemed in order

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Day 3 (10/9/13)

This was the last “full” day of the holiday and it was decided we would take a day trip to Sweden.

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Sweden is only a 35 minute train ride from Copenhagen which takes you to the city of Malmo – this is a cool modern water tower just outside Malmo.  The shot above shows the 2 level bridge crossing the sea – rail on lower deck and road on upper deck.   The train was quite fast at about 100mph.

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We got off at central Malmo station – the train here is bound for Stockholm, the Swedish capital.

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I decided to draw out some local Swedish currency from the ATM, and it is cheaper at about £10 for 100 krona vs about £12 for 100 krona in Denmark.    The building below is near the waterside.

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Interesting Swedish signs – it is forbidden to allow a dog to walk on water here!

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A major landmark in Malmo is the “turning torso” tower, it’s very tall in the region of 200 metres.   You can even see it from Copenhagen!

Annoyingly you cannot go up it as it’s a block of flats, although I think there are rare times they allow visitors.

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It’s a long walk from Central Malmo to the turning torso, but there is a nice boardwalk area with views of the bridge that connects Sweden with Denmark.

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Back in Central Malmo, and a quick glass of Carlsberg and we head back to the train bound for Denmark.

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It was mainly full of business commuters who commute between the 2 countries each day.

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The trouble with relying on google maps to find walking routes is that it takes it’s toll on the phone battery – I think I was down to about 6% by the time I arrived back in Denmark again.

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Another view of the train

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Our final evening in Copenhagen and a “wienerschnitzel” washed down with a 700ml glass of Carlsberg was in order – this was quite a meal yet very tasty.

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Day 4 (11/9/13)

This is the last day of this break in Copenhagen, and as it’s an evening flight there is still some time to taken a trip on the “s-tog” to the castle and “little mermaid”, especially as the weather has got really sunny for a change.

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I’m impressed with the quality of the s-tog which is much more comfortable than a typical London tube train.

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The little mermaid is surrounded by tourists like bees round a honeypot.

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Rather than walk back to the hotel we discover that there is a handy riverbus service which is only 240kr per head (about £3) and it’s a great way to see the city from the river.    You simply pay the “captain” of the boat when you board.

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We got off about 4 stops later near the cool church where you can walk up the outside of the tower.  Called “Church of Our Saviour”

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Before you get to the outside climbing there is still several stages of interior climbing to complete.   It starts with a normal staircase up to roof height – you then enter the tower section, with a warning that you proceed at your own risk as there are narrow wooden steps, which get steeper and narrower as you get higher.     There is a bellroom section with a sign warning that the 120db bells could start chiming at any time.

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When you get outside there is a very good view, but not good if you get vertigo.   It felt like the tower was tipping over!

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The spiral steps get narrower and narrower till you can climb no further as it is only a few inches wide at this point.

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After the tower we then walk back to the hotel to collect our bags

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A “drug free zone”

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A cat in a window sunning itself

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A happy & warm cat

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The Copenhagen rush hour

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It gets very busy with as many cyclists as cars

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We get to the airport and there is a nice bar that serves draught Carlsberg

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There is a long walk to the gate, with markings to show the time left to walk

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Waiting to board

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On the way home now at 38000 feet and 500mph

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The fight was pretty much full on the way back so no luxury of an empty aisle seat this time

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Checking the height of the plane via gps, and also the speed.   At least android seems to enable gps when using “flight mode” unlike ios.

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Old Photos

Been sorting through some of my old photos again. Originally I had quite a lot of photos on Flickr and other similar places, but gradually it seemed like my photos were fragmented over various sites in a sort of disjointed way, so it made more sense to only post photos to a single site, hence the idea behind this WordPress based site.

These are some of the photos taken with the Nikon D70s back in 2006.   This was quite soon after getting this DSLR and I had an 18-70mm zoom lens.

A Trip round an Island just off the coast of Iceland called Heimaey.   The ship I was sailing on was the Fred Olsen Black Prince.

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This was taken on a trip round the mainland of Iceland – a Geyser

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More on Iceland – an impressive waterfall.

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On Iceland near Reykjavik, a place called “Perlan” which are huge hot water tanks with a restaurant on top

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The sea crossing between Iceland and Greenland saw the first chunks of ice in the sea – you could hear them bumping against the porthole windows in the cabin.

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After docking in Greenland there was a boat tour in amongst the icebergs to visit a glacier where the ice bergs are formed.   Drinks were served using centuries old glacier ice , at least that’s what the guide said, perhaps an exaggeration, but the ice is probably older than me!

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While wondering round Narsaq, a small town in Greenland one of the locals asked if she could interview me.   She works for a radio station in Greenland and she said that not many of the cruise passengers reach this part of the village as it’s quite a way from where the ships dock.

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The dinner tables get allocated on the 1st evening and luckily we got a table right next to the window, so had this table for the whole 2 week voyage.

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After dinner drinks before the evening show

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The deck plans of the ship – the interesting thing is that it shows all the parts that passengers don’t normally see.

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