ABC of Chippenham: Avon
Today dawned frosty, misty and sunny: a perfect time to go downtown and take pictures of the River Avon. It's one of several rivers in England with the name Avon: This one is called the Bristol Avon because there's actually two River Avons in Wiltshire. The other is in the south of the county - we're in the north - and is called the Hampshire Avon.
Our River Avon arises near Old Sodbury in Gloucestershire and finally drains into the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth, near Bristol. It flows south from Gloucestershire into Wiltshire, where it joins with the Tetbury Avon at Malmesbury, not far north of Chippenham.
It then meanders around in a generally westwards direction forming the lifeblood of many Wiltshire towns and villages such as Lacock, Melksham and Bradford-on-Avon - in addition to Chippenham - before flowing into Somerset, and the city of Bath. If you take the train from Bath to the south coast, the line follows the Avon valley for many miles and is one of the finest rail journeys in England.
The photo is taken looking upstream from the wooden bridge in Monkton Park, a view I've not shown you before. I'm standing just a few yards from office buildings and a shopping centre and I like that this scene is more like the out of town rural views. We also have a slight connection with the river where we live as the stream at the side of our house - the Hardenhuish Brook - is one of the river's tributaries, joining it in the centre of town.
At various times I've used both the brook and the river as an outdoor classroom to teach people how to identify freshwater invertebrates and their importance in showing the water's health. This has improved over the years and on many evenings and weekends you can see quite a few people 'camped' downtown taking advantage of the coarse fishing available. However, I'm worried about the continued health of the varied bankside plants as I've seen the dreaded invasive Himalayan Balsam has arrived.
Going forward, Chippenham Vision has identified our river as a valued and underused resource which can be used to increase the town's quality of life. Awareness raising of its possibilities started two years ago by holding an annual summer River Festival with various events such as dragon boat racing. The river is a pleasant place for a stroll at any time of the year (except when it's awash with rain!) and cycling is another possibility as the Sustrans National Cycle Route 4 is routed alongside for a few miles on its way to/from Calne.
NB Avon is the old Celtic word for river, so it quite amuses me we're really saying the River River when we talk about it ;)
This is for ABC Wednesday and forms part 1 of my themed round of posts about Chippenham.