The harbourside is a great place to start your explorations. Starting on the south side of the floating harbour you will discover gems such as Brunel's ss Great Britain in Bristol. Here you will be transported back in time to learn about the realities of life for all those on board this first propeller driven, ocean going, iron ship. To enrich the experience you can take advantage of the audio guides and relive the experiences of either a First or Third Class passenger, a Maritime archaeologist or Sinbad the ship’s cat (for children).
From here on weekends and bank holidays between March and October, instead of walking, you can hop on board a working steam train and take a trip back along the water’s edge - ideal if you have a love of steam trains, are a child at heart or are simply feeling a little "foot weary". The Harbour Railway takes you to Bristol’s flagship museum, the M shed, where you can find out about the social and commercial history of the city through artifacts and the accounts of locals. It is worth stepping out on to the upstairs balcony of the museum to take in the splendid view of the waterside and the city beyond.
Leaving the M Shed you might be lucky enough to see the Matthew berthed nearbye, if it is in the harbour between sailings. This magnificent sailing ship is a replica of the original Matthew in which John Cabot sailed 500 years ago. This voyage led to the disovery of Newfoundland.
From the M-Shed cross the swing bridge to check out the Arnolfini Arts Centre which hosts a range of exhibitions, events and talks. There is a very good cafe here serving drinks, snacks and light meals if you feel in need of sustenance. Crossing over to the other side of the floating harbour via Pero’s Bridge, easily identified by its two horn-like structures, you will see At-Bristol, an award winning hands on Science Centre where people of all ages can "get interactive" and learn whilst having fun. The huge chrome sphere houses the At-Bristol Planetarium where you can discover the wonders of space at one of the presenter-led night sky shows. Close by is the Aquarium where nature lovers can feast their eyes on an array of colourful underwater species through a glass underwater walk-through tunnel.
Moving away from the north side of the harbour, take a stroll up to College Green and admire Bristol Cathedral. Dating back to the twelfth century the cathedral is open daily to visitors. University Graduation ceremonies are held in the cathedral and College Green is a favourite spot for graduating students to have their photographs taken in all their finery. On the opposite side of the green is the splendid City Hall, the Civic Centre of Bristol.
Then back down at the floating harbour, if you have a penchant for "life on the ocean wave", you can take a Bristol Ferry or one of the local boat trips to view the city from the water – less turbulent than the ocean but none the less very pleasant on a dry sunny day. Be sure to cast your eyes upwards to see the coloured houses of Cliftonwood.
Around the harbour area there is a wide choice of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all pockets and tastes. For those who would rather dine "al fresco" ready supplies for a picnic can be found in shops in the streets nearby.
Photographs by N Hindmarch