Brislington Brook Walk 4 - Sidetracked in St Annes
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A series of caches that lead from the River Avon up Brislington Brook. The terrain is varied; paths and tracks wind their way along the side of the brook and as you head further along, it can get a bit muddy at times.
The best path to get to the this cache from Brislington Brook Walk 3 is to head back down stream on the right hand side of the valley and head up to the path junction at N51 26.937 W002 32.651 (there are some steps here!) and then out onto St Annes Park Road at N51 26.910 W002 32.669. Head right following St Annes Park Road straight on past the roundabout up to Wick Road and turn left heading over the bridge - take care here with kids as this can be a busy road! Take the first left turn down St Annes Terrace and follow it to the end to get to Nightingale Woods.
St. Annes Station 1900
On your left there used to be St Annes railway station - where once a large boulder stood in memorial of a brave soul. On Friday March 31st 1876, just after 2 p.m., a local train passed on the up line towards Bath. It is considered possible that this train shook and so dislodged a big boulder. A few minutes later, on the opposite line, the West of England express from Paddington known as the 'Flying Dutchman' (then the fastest train in the world) was travelling towards Bristol at 50 m.p.h. There are two tunnels on this part of the line, and as the express came out of the Bristol end of one of them its fireman saw a huge stone lying right across the rails. In the same fleeting moment he saw a man trying to move it. By a superhuman effort the man managed to clear the line in spite of the enormous weight of the stone and so saved the whole train from almost certain disaster, for there is little doubt that it would have de-railed and rolled down the bank into the River Avon. However before he could get clear himself the engine struck and threw him a distance of eight or nine yards. On being picked up he breathed just once and then quietly died. The train had been saved by the courage of a man called Jack Chiddy, who at 47 lived in Hanham with his wife and seven children. A curious Brunel relic, the Apple Stone is the name of the huge bolder that was taken from the St Anne's Tunnel in Brislington and preserved by Brunel in memory of Jack Chiddy. It is now clearly visible from Woodland Road. .. but its plaque bears no mention of John Chiddy. Bristol University had hoped to credit the Victorian hero, but British Rail has no record to support his tale of heroism. Whilst steam trains rarely come this way, it is still exciting to stand here and watch/listen to the trains come past. The cache itself is hopefully an item Brunel would have appreciated, had he been a geocacher! Not much room in here!
The cache is next to Brislington Boat Screen, built in 1978 to divert floodwaters from the brook under the hill to the East and into the River Avon. To protect the tunnel from blockages a large 3-tier screen was constructed in the shape of a boat, hence the locally used name “Brislington Boat Screen”.
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