Monday, 15 February 2016
A World of Mud
Seen from a lofty viewpoint at the top of the Gorge, with the Portway and the Clifton Down railway running in parallel, the Avon seems perfectly contained in its channel. In the distance plumes of smoke and steam rise from the industries of Avonmouth, and beyond them the hills of Wales can be made out, despite the haze.
But the Avon is tidal, getting a massive push upstream twice a day from the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world. When the plug is pulled, the brimming channel becomes a dismal mudbank. Further downstream, about half-way to Avonmouth, the River Trym flows into the Avon at Sea Mills. It, too, is affected by the tidal flow, and becomes if anything even more dismal at low tide.
When I was there last week it was especially grim, as it was apparent that the recent heavy rains had caused the Trym to overtop its banks at high tide, leaving a muddy trail of detritus smeared all over the grass. Curiously, alongside the expected litter of containers, wrappers and bottles, there was an improbable quantity of plastic balls, presumably lost or left outside in riverside gardens and playing fields, and flushed out by the water from their hiding places.