Salt marsh at Battery Point

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Battery Point Light is arguably the most well known landmark in Portishead. With far reaching views of the Severn Estuary this headland was the site of gun batteries in the English Civil War, briefly during the Napoleonic wars and in the Second World War. Now it is a popular spot to relax and watch the world go by.

The tides are strong here and the only deep water channel, the “Kings Road”, runs just offshore so It is a spectacular spot from which to get an up-close view of passing ships.

The island off in the distance is Denny Island.

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The salt marsh lies just beyond this bright yellow sign warning of the dangers of “walking beyond the pebbles”, “swimming” and “windsurfing”.

It has a character all of its own and very different from that at Portbury Wharf.

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There are plants here not seen at Portbury Wharf such as the beautiful sea lavender and marsh samphire . . .  oh and the swathes of sea club rush which took on a lovely burnt sienna glow in this May morning sketch, whilst on the headland you can find the likes of rock samphire and rock rose.

The rocky outcrops at either end of this marsh attract flocks of turnstones and in winter purple sandpipers are frequently seen on the rocks below Battery Point Light.

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On high neap tides the muddy edge of the salt marsh is buffeted by waves. The Severn Estuary has the second highest rise and fall in the world with a tidal range of about 49 feet (15 metres) so on the highest spring tides the water spills over the top covering the marsh and rising high up the sea wall.

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The sea wall runs across the sea front from Battery Point to this row of houses and on top of the sea wall is the esplanade, a popular place to walk or just sit and admire the channel views. Beyond this narrow stretch of salt marsh the food rich mudflats attract many passing waders including redshank and curlew.

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Shelduck are common here as are the mallard which fly back and forth from the boating lake on the other side of the esplanade.

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Geese over the salt marsh (4 Canada and one Greylag) with Black Nore Point in the distance. This was on a stormy day – beautifully dramatic.

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In 2010 the Victorian Black Nore Lighthouse was switched off and is now a Grade II listed landmark. On a good day the island of Flat Holm is visible in the distance.

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A flock of wood pigeons coming in to feed on the salt marsh in front of Black Nore Point. Pigeons frequently take advantage of these herb rich salt marshes.


I will be adding more sketches of Battery Point and the salt marsh plants another day.

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2 thoughts on “Salt marsh at Battery Point

  1. Hi Hilary,

    These are so lovely! I have been marvelling at how much colour there is and how it changes round the seasons out on the saltings. You have captured it beautifully. I am looking forward to the book coming out!


    • Thanks so much Ian.

      It is not until you put sketches from different seasons side by side that you see just how much the colours on the saltings change . . . and on top of that, the longer term changes. Over the last couple of years the sea club rush was confined to two patches but this year it has spread considerably – hence the liberal use of burnt sienna in the third sketch. Endlessly fascinating!


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