Sunday, 24 June 2012


Balmoral arrived at Lydney at 08:30 for an 08:45 departure (with this early start there was no “sunrise cruise” from Clevedon this time)  Waiting to board were a disappointingly small number of about 80 (including about a dozen regulars who’d travelled some distance for the sailing – and one chap who’d camped overnight!)
Bal arriving at Lydney
Boarding was quickly accomplished and we headed across the river to Sharpness where about 120 boarded (again, in the past we’ve seen many more board here).  We were soon heading downstream under blue skies (on my gps I ‘clocked’ us briefly doing 18.5 knots). 
Approaching Sharpness
Passing under 'old' Severn Bridge (M48)
The second Severn Crossing (M4 bridge)
Travelling incignito - ex Balmoral purser (name?........can't remember)
Passing Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Docks
Departing Clevedon
 With those sorts of speeds, we arrived at Clevedon 30 minutes early.  About 20 passengers disembarked and 2 boarded (with no return to Clevedon, it was not a timetabled departure)
We left Clevedon 20 minutes early.  With time in hand Capt Clarke kept us fairly close to the Somerset coast, passing close to and south of Steep Holm then across Bridgewater Bay towards Hurtstone Point (between Minehead and Porlock) where we went close inshore all the way to ‘Combe.  I can’t remember having done this route since the early 1960’s – on a Scilly Isles trip.
Passing south of Steep Holm
Around mid-day the skies clouded over, with a light following breeze it still felt pleasantly warm on deck.  Our arrival at Ilfracombe was greeted by the bell ringing Town Crier (Roy)  who as usual welcomed us to sunny (?) Ilfracombe, he asked that we don’t feed the seagulls and if we liked them that much “….please take one home with you”

Alongside at Ilfracombe
View of the pier (MV Oldenburg on the left) and Lantern Hill
Departing 'Combe
A couple of hours ashore – enough time for a little sightseeing, an ice cream, cream tea or fish and chips before boarding for the return to Penarth and coach returns to Lydney and Sharpness.  The return trip was pleasant enough, the skies were darkening but the rain held off until we were almost in sight of Penarth Pier.

Thanks to Peter Devrell for allowing the use of some of his photos.  Peter also shot some video of the Lydney – Clevedon section of the cruise he’s uploaded a 7 minute clip to YouTube, to view it click HERE.  Peter has a YouTube Channel with lots of video clips of ‘steamy’ things – mainly engines, there’s also one of Waverley and another of Swiss paddlers – I’ve added a link to his site in the Links section.

If you have photos or video that you think would be of interest to other members, send an email to the bchannelbranch address.

Peter Havard

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Balmorals' Bristol Channel season starts next week

Balmoral left Glasgow earlier this week and headed for the Irish Sea for the first 5 days of her summer season.  The weather forecast for the start of these 5 days doesn't look good, but it's looking better for the  last 3 days.

On Tuesday 19th June Balmoral will sail south to the Bristol Channel ready for her 11 days of sailings , she'll then moving on to the South Coast and Thames.

Bals sailings for the first week on the Channel are:

Wednesday 20th -  Lydney, Sharpness & Clevedon to Ilfracombe  back to Penarth for coach return to Lydney & Sharpness.  Some of the keen Welsh will do this trip by catching the 07.12 train from Cardiff to Lydney and make their own way home from Penarth.

Thursday 21st  - Clevedon, (Newport - coach to Penarth) Penarth to Ilfracombe for nearly 3 hours ashore.

Friday 22nd - Briton Ferry, Porthcawl to Ilfracombe for over 5 hours ashore.

Saturday 23rd - Bristol, Clevedon, Penarth to Ilfracombe for 2 hours ashore.

Sunday 24th - Clevedon, Penarth, Ilfracombe (for 5 hours ashore) or on to Lundy Island with 2 hours ashore.

Monday 25th - Minehead, (Exeter - coach to Ilfracombe) Ilfracombe (for 7 hours ashore) or on to Lundy Island with nearly 4 hours ashore.

Tuesday 26th - Penarth, Weston, Clevedon, Penarth - Holms Islands cruise, Clevedon & Penarth.

Peter Havard