Salt marsh at Battery Point

Battery Point

Arguably the most well known landmark in Portishead is Battery Point. With far reaching views of the Severn Estuary this headland has a history. It was the site of gun batteries in the English Civil War, the Napoleonic wars and 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 Kings Road is just off shore. It is the main deep water leading to the docks so it is a spectacular spot 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. It warns of the dangers of  swimming and windsurfing here as well as an instruction not to walk beyond the pebbles.

This salt marsh has a character all of its own and is very different from Portbury Wharf.

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The muddy edge of the salt marsh is buffeted by waves when the tide comes in twice daily. The Severn Estuary has the second highest rise and fall in the world. With a tidal range of about 49 feet (15 metres) sometimes the water spills over and reaches the sea wall.

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The sea wall runs across the sea front from Battery Point to this row of houses. On top of the sea wall is the esplanade, a popular place to walk or just sit and admire the channel views.

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Salt Marsh Wildlife

The beautiful sea lavender grows in abundance here as well as marsh samphire .

There are also swathes of sea club rush which had a lovely burnt sienna glow on this May morning. Whilst on  the headland there is rock samphire and the lovely yellow rock rose.

The rocky outcrops at either end of this marsh attract flocks of turnstones. Purple sandpipers gather on the rocks below Battery Point Light in the winter.

Shelduck and mallard are common here. The mallard fly back and forth between the boating lake on the other side of the esplanade and the sea.

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Black Nore

Geese over the salt marsh (4 Canada and one Greylag) on a stormy but beautifully dramatic day. You can see Black Nore Point in the distance.

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Black Nore Lighthouse, a Grade II listed landmark was switched off in 2010. On a good day you can see the island of Flat Holm 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.


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  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!


    1. 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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