Thursday, 29 April 2010

Lone adventurer... Camera Obscura

There was once a time and even now and then I still get it when despite the independent upbringing, I struggle to venture out on independent day trips, it's not that I dislike my own company, merely that I prefer to share an experience. Perhaps its human nature to want to bounce off someone, it's more fun with two, or three, or more! Although too many and you spend to long waiting for people. However, being new to a city, with days at my disposal and modest amounts of friends has forced me to shake off this behavior, and strike out on my own.

My visit to the Camera Obscura was testament to this, after failed co-ordinations to meet up with a mate, I ventured up the hill to Clifton village alone. The weather was glorious and I reminded myself how lovely it is to walk around at my own pace listening to music. I paused to take photographs and diddly as and when, it was indeed a relaxed affair. Upon reaching the summit of the Obscure I was dashed out a charge of £3.50 entrance, this covered me for caves and camera... The venue is currently being renovated, soon to open as a roof top restaurant, a bid to eek more money out of the glorious building.

If like me you've never been in an obscura, don't be too disappointed, its like a giant spying device, you rotate its lens and you can see everything in detail all around, people chilling on the grass, cars passing over the suspension bridge etc. The biggest buzz I received was from the voyeuristic sensation I encountered in a blackened room, watching sunbathers below.
The building was erected as a wind mill (Snuff Mill) in 1766, however in 1777 it was destroyed internally by fire, abandoned until 1828, artist William West began to rent it. The artist used the camera to draw pictures of the surroundings including Leigh woods and the bridge itself, examples of which can be found in the Bristol Museum.
Buried deep below the hill top is St Vincent's Cave nee Giants Cave or Ghyston's Cave, which sits 250ft above Avon Gorge. Access is granted by a passageway constructed by West, its precarious route is damp, narrow and requires ducking. The cave is steeped in history and dates as far back as 305 AD with evidence that it was used a place of religious worship. The attendee informed me that a structure once existed that came out of the rock and access via external steps was possible. I spent a good deal of time down there reflecting and taking in the view, this was before I knew the history, perhaps I was under its spell, definitely a highlight of my adventure, and perhaps I may have taken less time to loiter were I with a companion.
My journey from the bridge to home took approximately 45 minutes downhill, that's the beauty of Bristol you can pretty much walk anywhere.