As summer is now coming to an end, every last sunny day needs to be made the most of. I’ve heard of Purton boat graveyard and seen pictures on the internet, but didn’t realise how close it was to Bristol. After asking several friends and family about Purton in general, I was told it had a few nice pubs and not a lot else but we decided to give it a go anyway for an afternoon adventure.
We parked on the road on a quiet street and began walking towards the canal. A number of fishermen lined the banks but no boat graveyard could be seen. After asking several passers by for directions we found ourselves walking down a muddy path adjacent to the canal and river. Eventually the path opened out to a clearing to reveal the first boat which had met its demise.
The first vessels were beached in 1909 to strengthen the nearby eroding canal and eventually a total of 81 boats/ships/barges ended up here on the banks of Purton. The vessels ranged in age and material ranging from wood to steal and some even concrete. They all weathered to different extents with some are now nothing more than a single visible post in the ground.
The ground was boggy, wet and muddy even though it hadn’t rained for a fair few days. Access after heavy rain must be very hard without wellies. The path lead down the back of each boat and we walked as far as we could before the mud got to much.
Each beached vessel had a plaque giving a brief description of its past. Some were quite interesting and others not so much. Nevertheless it was nice to read an insight into where the wreckage that lay before us had come from.
The wrecks made for some fantastic photography opportunities. The site itself is very quiet and tranquil, we were only passed by several dog walkers and ramblers (who were a lot better equipped for the terrain than we were).
We started to walk back to the car, this time taking a different route along an actual foot path (as opposed to mud). We watched as the canal boats drifted past, occasionally having to stop and wait for a bridge to swing to allow them through.
Purton is a fantastic little village and although there is not much to do there, it is perfect for an evening stroll. We will definitely be returning for another canal walk soon, this time heading in the other direction to see what we can find…
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