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Off for a paddle in the Bristol channel

The time had come for our little trip on PS Waverley. It was more than a wee bit chilly, and Weston's sea actually had waves, caused by the stiff wind.

We all headed for Knightstone Pier, not really knowing where we were to board the ship. There were plenty of people standing about, so we joined them, and watched as Waverley paddled in from the horizon. The ship loomed large as it moored right at the end of Knightstone island.

Waverley arriving at Knightstone, by John W

There were people already on board; some of us casually wondered if they'd been picked up from Clevedon, as this was where the trip would end later in the evening.

A big crowd of people - including us - boarded via the wibbly-wobbly gangways, both of which the crew struggled to keep in place due to the swell.

Head for the Bar!

It seemed like the most sensible thing to do to get out of the wind and find a seat. Most of us reached the bar before the rush. Not long after, we set sail, the noise of the paddles splashing rhythmically in the background.

Inside the ship

The ship had a number of large indoor spaces, including a couple of bars, a dining room, and corridor space around the engine room, where there were open viewing areas either side. Here, you could watch the huge pistons driving the paddles, with beautifully-polished copper and brass dials, levers and other equipment.

The engine was mesmerising to watch. Nearby portholes revealed the paddles going round, with water splashing up against them.

Shiny dials!
View of the engine room, by Mal

I bought a postcard from the onboard shop and posted it in the postbox to get the Waverley postmark. It still hasn't arrived.....

Steepholm and Flatholm

Weston's mayor was on board and, as we sailed across to Steepholm, he gave a speech over the tannoy. This was followed by the voice of an expert who knew loads about the history of Waverley.

The commentary was full of detail as we drew close to Steepholm and Flatholm and circled each island; who knew that Flatholm had a cottage with 2 big foghorns on its roof??

The lighthouse on Flatholm, by Wendy

Steepholm and Flatholm

Once we'd been around the islands, learning lots about their history and current status, we paddled off towards the coast. It was quite difficult to know which coast was which (Wales or England) as we we'd been going round in circles for a while. As we got closer, it became quite evident that we were not heading to our drop off point at Clevedon Pier.


Approaching Penarth, by Mal

We didn't know we were stopping at this pretty little town. Hundreds of people got off, which explained why there were so many on board when we got on - they'd started from here earlier in the day.

Cardiff was close by, and you could see the Senedd (National Assembly of Wales) in Cardiff Bay.

Sunset over the pier at Penarth

Time for a coffee, I thought. An officer serving the drinks said I could have coffee, as long as I wanted no water in it.


Apparently Waverley had run out of water, so we were moored at Penarth for some time, enabling the ship to have a long drink.

It was dusk as we started our crossing back to Clevedon. The wind had dropped, making it quite pleasant to be out on even the upper decks

The paddle home

It was nearly dark as we made our way towards Clevedon, passing a strangely-shaped object on a pontoon, which was being tugged in the opposite direction to us.

What is it?

After a lively conversation about the shape (oo-er missus!) and its likely destination, we went to the starboard side to watch Waverley arrive at Clevedon pier. The tide was low, revealing 3 flights of steep stairs up to the main deck of the pier.

Pulling alongside Clevedon Pier

It took a long time to get everyone off the ship and up the steps, and then it was a long walk along the pier to the waiting coaches.

To add to the late arrival at Clevedon, caused when Waverley took on water at Penarth, we had to wait 20 minutes on the coach for one person with mobility issues to get from the ship to the road end of the pier. Then we wondered why we were taking the long route home via Yatton and Congresbury. It turned out that the M5 junction had closed at 10pm. It was midnight by the time we arrived home, tired but happy.

And finally...

Waverley in darkness at Clevedon pier

Thanks Waverley for a great trip, and to the members that sent me some of the photos featured above.

58 views2 comments


Unknown member
Jun 10

What a brilliant evening and a really interesting write up and photos, well done Kim I almost feel as though I’ve been on the trip with you all xx


Unknown member
Jun 09

And that’s another fine trip you got us on.

Well done Kim and John

PS for those interested £6.50 a pint and £4 a shot. However we all bought and enjoyed.

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