Tag Archives: canals


Glastonbury, England

Oh beautiful yet bizarre Glastonbury. I’ve been in and out of this village on backpacking trips since 2008 and haven’t been back since 2013. Glastonbury is a small village and civil parish located in Somerset England at the dry end of the low-lying Somerset levels 23 miles south of Bristol. The 2011 census stated it had a population of 8,932. The town has been inhabited since Neolithic times and there are evidence of timber trackways such as “Sweet Track” laying history in the area. The Glastonbury Lake Village was a bustling Iron Age Village located right next to the River Brue and Sharpham Park 2 miles to the west dating to the Bronze Age. Glastonbury was home to the Glastonbury Abbey that controlled the tow for 700 years. Many historic structures remain in the town from the Tribunal, George Hotel, Pilgrim’s Inn, Somerset Rural Life Museum, and the Church of St. John the Baptist.

Glastonbury was known as a center for commerce especially during the Middle Ages. This enabled the construction of the Market Cross, Glastonbury Canal, and the Glastonbury & Street railway station. Today it is considered a New Age community attracting spiritual people from all walks of life especially within the New Age Movement and Neo-Paganism much attracted to the legends of King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail, and Glastonbury Tor.

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff into the ground and it mysteriously blossomed into the Glastonbury Thorn. There is legend of a landscape zodiac surrounding the town although no evidence of this exists. It is home to the Glastonbury Festival held in the neighboring village of Pilton that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

During the 7th millenium B.C.E. Glastonbury was inundated by floods caused by sea level rise that caused Mesolithic peoples to occupy seasonal camps on higher grounds in the area. Archaeological evidence of dated flints have helped archaeologists date occupation from the Mesolithic and Neolithic of the area. The Neolithic inhabitants exploited the reed swamps for the natural resources constructing wooden trackways through the area – “Sweet Track” trackway located to the west of Glastonbury dates to being built around 3806 BCE according to dendrochronology and is one of the oldest engineered roads in Europe. It was the oldest until the 2009 discovery of a 6000 year old trackway in Belmarsh Prison. The road extended across the marsh between the then island at Westhay and a ridge of high ground at Shapwick for approximately 2000 meters and was part of a network of tracks once crossing the Somerset Levels. It was built of crossed poles of ash, oak, and lime driven into the waterlogged soil to create a walkway of oak planks laid end-to-end and was built along the route of an earlier track known as the “Post Track” dating from 3838 BCE.

The Lake Village was built around 300 BCE and had around 100 inhabitants from 5-7 groups of houses each for an extended family with sheds, barns, and dwellings made of hazel and willow covered with reeds surrounded by a wooden palisade. The Village was occupied until the Roman period ca. 100 C.E. after which it was abandoned due to water level rise as it was built on a morass artificial foundation of timber filled with brushwood, bracken, clay, and rubble.

This evolved into the settlement that came to be called “Glastonbury” around the 7-8th century as “Glestingaburg” referring to Anglo-Saxon names for a person or kindred group settled in a fortified place. It is believed the founder of the town was named Glast, a descendant of Cunedda. There is reference to it being first called Ineswitrin or Ynys Witrin according to William of Malmesbury’s “De Antiquitate Glastonie Ecclesie”. Centwine was the first Saxon patron of the Glastobury Abbey 676-685 C.E.

Legend has it that Saint Collen came to Glastonbury as one of the first hermits to settle on the Tor before the Abbey was built by Saint Patrick. Collen had struggles with the local faeries living in the area and was summoned by Gwyn ap Nudd at the summit of the Tor upon arriving entered a hovering mansion and King Gwyn’s armies, courtiers, and palace folk who attempted to lure him into the Otherworld. Collen dispersed the apparitions with holy water. According to Druidic mythology, this palace was made of glass and was able to receive the spirits of the dead who depart from the Tor, a passageway to the Otherworlds. This was why the chapel then church of Saint Michael was built on the Tor as Saint Michael was the chief patron against diabolic attacks which the monks believed the Faerie King Gwyn caused. The Tor was named after this palace of glass for the dead.

By the Middle Ages the town was largely dependent on the Abbey but also became a center for the Wool Trade until the 18th century. A Canal was built for trading connecting the Abbey to the River Brue. The dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 saw the execution of the remaining Abbot and his monks.

The town was revived in 1705 C.E. being granted a charter of incorporation and was dependent on an economy of trade relying on the drainage of the surrounding moors, an opening of the Glastonbury Canal and became a local parish part of the hundred of the Glaston Twelve Hides until the 1730’s when it became a borough of its own. By the 19th century it had many troubles caused from the Glastonbury Canal drainage and competition from the new railways causing a dip in trade and depression set in its economy. The Canal was closed in 1854 and dismantled, being replaced the same year by a railway. A wharf was built for the railway and used until 1936 when it was filled in. the Main line to Glastonbury closed in 1966. Industrial production of woollen slippers, sheepskins, boots, and shoes became the mainstay but saw folding manufacture in 1993 converting to form Clarks Village – a purpose-built factory outlet. In the 19th-20th century tourism became the mainstay accompanying the rise in antiquarianism associating the Abbey and mysticism of the town.

Many Archaeologists believe that the Monks of the local Abbey connected the fables of King Arthur, the Holy Grail, and Joseph of Arimathea with Glastonbury to meet the challenges of a financial crisis caused by a devastating fire burning the Abbey. This was perpetuated by writing of historians such as William of Malmesbury, Venerable Bede, Gerald of Wales, and Geoffrey of Monmouth. In 1191 the Abbey’s monks claimed to have found the graves of King Arthur and Guinevere to the south of the Lady Chapel of the Abbey Church. The remains were later moved and were lost during the Reformation. In modern times this led to the four year study by Archaeologists stated “we didn’t claim to disprove the legendary associations, or would we wish to” and “that doesn’t dispel the Arthurian legend, it just means the pit excavated (where Arthur is said to be buried) he rather over-claimed.” It is however believed a hoax to substantiate the antiquity of Glastonbury’s foundation and increase its renown. The Glastonbury Zodiac came from a 1934 artist rendering by Katherine Maltwood suggesting the landscape formed a map of the stars on a gigantic scale formed by features in the landscape such as the fields, roads, and streams situated around Glastonbury. She claimed the Temple was created by Sumerians in 2700 BCE. Ian Burrow, Tom Williamson, and Liz Bellamy, scholars studying this myth from 1975-1983 used landscape historical research concluded contradicted the idea. For example the eye of Capricorn she labelled was a haystack, the western wing of the Aquarius Phoenix was a road laid in 1782 to run around Glastobury, the Cancer boat consisted of a network of 18th century drainage ditches and paths and there is no support of the theory that a “temple” in any form existed. Today Geomancers claim Glastonbury to be the center of several ley lines.

Below is a list of places I visited and reviewed. I hope to have this expanded to a complete list of resources and places of interest within the next few years.

Sites of Interest:

More to come …



    Glastonbury & Surrounding Area, a set on Flickr.

Continue reading Glastonbury


Columbia Canal (Columbia, SC)


Columbia Canal
* Columbia Riverfront Park * Columbia * South Carolina * National Register of Historic Places, No. 79002392 *

Interlaced within the heart of Columbia, South Carolina is a series of canals built in the early 1800’s by indentured Irishmen formed to provide direct water routes between the uplands and the lowlands along the fall line. Utilizing the Congaree River and Broad Rivers, it centers in the Columbia Riverfront Park where the canal is used to generate hydro-electrical power for South Carolina Electric and Gas company. Officially built in 1820 as a means for navigation and transportation along the rapids of the Broad River and Saluda river where they merge together to create the Congaree River. The canal was built in a natural ravine that existed between the city and the rivers, beginning between Lumber street (Calhoun street) and Richland street. It followed the Congaree for approximately 3 miles ending across from Granby Landing just north of the railroad bridges. Completed in 1824 it was 12 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep north of Senate street, and 18 feet wide and 4 feet deep south of there with a 8 foot wide towpath on either side. It had 4 lifting locks and a guard lock for the 34 ft descent of the river with a diversion dam across the Broad River to allow access from the Saluda Canal. Three waste tiers were built to prevent the canal from flooding, and this all linked into a separate canal called the Bull Sluice just north on the Broad River which had its own lock. By 1840 the state decided to drop its subsidy of the canal, and with the introduction of the 1842 railroads, its use declined. During the Civil war its hydro-electrical power was used to make gunpowder as well as for a grist mill run by the state penitentiary as well as a saw mill. By 1888 it was re-designed into a industrial power supply – revisions starting at Gervais street and extending 3 1/2 miles north along the Congaree and Broad Rivers, 150 feet wide and 10 feet deep with a new diversion dam, entry lock, and waste weir. In full use by 1891. Columbia Mill depended on it for textile production and was then utilized by the Columbia Hydro Plant built at its southern end producing power for the city, street railway system, and local industry.

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Bristol Harbour (Bristol, England)

Bristol Harbour
Bristol, England
In the heart of Bristol, England is the infamous “Bristol Harbour”. This is a historic city center area that covers approximately 70 acres and has existed since the 13th century. Its 19th century style was affected by the installation of lock gates on the tidal stretch from River Avon to City Centre and providing a tidal by-pass for the river. It is now a “Floating Harbour” as the water level remains constant and not affected the river’s tidal fluctuations. Netham Lock is the eastern upstream limit of the harbour beyond which is a junction – one arm the navigable RIver Avon that continues upstream to Bath, and on the other a tidal River Avon. The First mile of floating harbour downstream from Netham Lock is an artificial channel known as the feeder canal while the tidal River Avon follows its original route. Between Bristol Temple Meads railway station and Hotwells, the harbour and the River Avon run parallel at a distance of approximately .65 miles apart. At the railway station the Floating Harbour occupies the original bed of the River Avon and meanders through Bristol’s city centre, Canon’s Marsh, and Hotwells. To the south the River Avon flows through the artificial channel known as “New Cut”. The separation of the floating harbour and the tidal River carries currents and silting into the harbour that prevents flooding. In Hotwells, the floating harbour rejoins the river through a series of locks and flows into the Avon Gorge. This Harbour is also the original Port of Bristol but has turned to much smaller ships as modern ships and cargo are too big for this small harbour being re-routed to the docks at Avonmouth and Portbury 3 miles downstream at the mouth of the River Avon. The harbour is now a shopping and tourist attraction with museums, galleries, exhibitions, bars, and nightclubs. It has become a city cultural center with highlights such as the Arnolfini art gallery, Watershed media and arts centre, Bristol Industrial Museum, Museum of Bristol, At-Bristol science exhibition center, and fashionable apartment buildings. Museum boats are permanently berthed in the harbour including Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the first iron-hulled and propeller driven ocean liner. A replica of the Matthew in which John Cabot sailed to North America in 1497 also sits in the harbour. The historic vessels of the Industrial Museum, which include the steam tug Mayflower, firefloat Pyronaut and motor tug John King, are periodically operated. The Bristol Ferry Boat operates at the harbour, serving landing stages close to most of the harbour-side attractions and also providing a commuter service to and from the city centre and Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Bristol was a village that grew up along the banks of the Rivers Avon and Frome. Somewhere around 1240, an artificial deep channel called the “Saint Augustine’s Reach” was built to flow into the River Avon and became the heart of Bristol’s docks with quays and wharfs. Beginning in the 13th century, the rivers became modified for use as docks including the diversion of the River Frome. Since the River Avon inside the gorge mixed with the River Severn can have tides fluctuating 30 feet in between high and low water made the river easily navigable during high-tide but difficult to get through during low tide, stranding ships – first utilized to unload when the tides went down and deliberately stranding ships. This gave term to the phrase “shipshape and Bristol fashion” to describe boats that could handle repeatedly being stranded. 1420 there were vessels from Bristol regularly heading out to Iceland with rumors that sails from Bristol had already made landfall in the Americas before Christopher Columbus or John Cabot. When Cabot came to Bristol, he propositioned the king that he could reach Asia by sailing west across the north Atlantic and that it would be shorter and quicker than Columbus’ southern route. He got agreement and funding. 1670 the City had 6,000 tons of shipping of which half was used for importing tobacco and later heavily for the slave trade. Since the 1980’s millions of pounds have been invested in re-working the harbourside. By 1999 the Pero’s footbridge was finished and linked the At-Bristol exhibition with the tourist attractions. 2000 saw the opening of the At-Bristol center over the semi-direlict land at Canon’s Marsh and some of the Grade 2 listed buildings became refurbished and re-utilized. Over 44.3 million pounds from the National Lottery and another 43.4 million from the Bristol city council and partners invested in revitalizing the area. Construction of theaters, retail buildings, new flats, homes, and watershed offices. Today there are many festivals held in this area – such as the Bristol harbour Festival every July where tall ships and all other boats come attracting over 200,000 visitors with live music, street performances, and entertainment. Since 1996 it has been the tromping grounds of various festivals including the first International Festival of the Sea. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour

New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour
“The Red Light District Exposed”
The tour meets daily at 6:45 pm next to the Tourist Information Center directly in front of Centraal Staation. Look for the guides wearing red New Europe T-shirts. €10 Adults/€8 Students
Now I’m not usually a real big fan of “tours” and the whole “tourist” “sightseeing” parts of travelling. I usually like to explore on my own. But this tour was very affordable and had an incredible tour guide who knew her history of the district and was extremely helpful with orientation to Amsterdam. I couldn’t recommend any other tour “more” other than the accompanying “free” tour of Amsterdam each morning by the same company. They market the tour as “The Red Light District Exposed” and they certainly do an incredible job talking about every sensual or creepy corner of the district. They advertise with “Intrigued by the Red Light District at night but don’t feel safe exploring it on your own?” and they perfectly show the area for its beauty, intrique, history, and that its quite safe – with a two hour walking tour wandering from coffee shops and jazz clubs to sex theaters and smart shops, prostitute windows, and condom shops, ending with free shots and cocktail specials at the infamous Belushi’s bar. The guides take you to the Proefokaal and other Historic Bars, the World’s first Stock Exchange, a stroll through China Town, window gazing at the Condomerie, to the Old Church, Jazz legend Chet Baker’s place of death, the Warmoestraat: hardcore leather neighorhood, S&M Specialist, Smart Shops and a talk about Mushrooms, visits to the Sex Shops, Video Cabins, the Elite Streets, The Bulldog: Amsterdam’s first “Coffeeshops”, The Prostitution Information Center, the Word’s first Sex Theater, the Newmarket, and many more intriguing locations. On the eve of April 8, 2009 – we were luckily blessed with a fabulous guide named “Stacey”. Stacey was born in Russia, has lived in Canada, the US, Italy, and Malaysia, and now Amsterdam. She’s studying Art History and completing her degree in Asian Studies. Friendly, courteous, and extremely intelligent, she’s one of the best guides on the planet. The tour is worth the 10 Euro just to pick her brain about great places to eat, see, and experience nightlife. Top rating 5 stars out of 5. Thanks Stacey!!! Continue reading New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour


Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part D (4/8) – Amsterdam, Waag, Dam Square, Cafes, Fair, RLD Tour

Part D

New friends …

Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Onward the adventurers met with the tour guide leading them through the Red Light District on a spectacular tour learning the history of the sex trade, industry, prostitution, and cannabis culture of Amsterdam. The adventurers met some amazing new friends from around the world as well while exploring the darker and redder side of the city. At the end of the tour, those who wanted to, went into the Belushi Bar for their free shots of Jager and some happy hour specials. New friends from Ireland, Australia, Britain, and France … the adventurers chatted, drank, and headed over to a cafe later before figuring out how to get back to the Zeeburg hostel. Hungry, the hostelers dropped into a restaurant for some fries with a tasty peanut satay sauce. In process, two charming sisters introduced themselves as Karolien and Kristien who tried to pursuade everyone off to dancing to celebrate Karolien’s successful interview. Only Sir Thomas Leaf took them up on the offer. The three of them piled into a taxi and was off to the heart of Amsterdam. The original club that Karolien wanted to take them to was closed, so they went to another decent sized club playing “Techno Light” which appears to be a common popular music type in Holland. Dancing and drinking …. the trio had a blast. When Sir Thomas Leaf made it back to the hostel, it was the wee hours of the morning, and he quickly passed out. His daughter princess Breanna didn’t even wake.

Kristien and Karolien

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part D (4/8) – Amsterdam, Waag, Dam Square, Cafes, Fair, RLD Tour


Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part C (4/8) – Amsterdam, Red Light District

Part C

Candles in a cafe

Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Looking over the maps, the weary travellers decided against hiking across town to the City center. Sir Thomas Leaf bought the pair some 24-hour Metro tickets so they could hop the bus and trains unlimited for the next 24 hours. The hostel recommended taking the bus, so the duet hopped on the bus, and was blessed with the driver not stamping the tickets, giving it more of a boost of a timeline when they could use it. Now the quest for the sacred key of life is amongst the living. No longer to focus on the crypts and the deceased, but rather amongst the aspects of the living, and that which gives life energy. What form shall the key hold? Only time will tell.

Venturing around the streets, into the Red Light District, along the canals, and into the City Center – where a amusement park was setup in front of Madame Tussaud’s House of Wax. To get a good perspective of the city, the duet took the ferris wheel for some ethereal viewpoints. Afterwards, some shopping ensued and a drop over to the Sex Museum before taking the Red Light District tour. They planned to take the tour of the museum later, but given they were running late for the RLD tour, planned to do it later. Since Sir Thomas Leaf had done the museum on another visit, was not much of a rush. Over to the Tourist Information center at Central Station, they awaited for the tour guide to arrive. [to be continued … ]

Copy free photo of Redlight windows from amsterdam.info

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part C (4/8) – Amsterdam, Red Light District


Amsterdam’s Infamous Canals

Amsterdam’s Canals
One of the most picturesque parts of Amsterdam is it’s canals. A tremendous effort that was created by conscious city planning. Beginning in the early 17th century with immigration at its peak, the city decided to develope a comprehensive plan of a design based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging into the IJ bay. They called this the Grachtengordel. Three of the canals exist primarily for residential development … these are the Herengracht (Gentleman’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal’). The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht that serves the purposes of defense and water management. In the early days, The defensive purpose was established by moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructures. These canals interconnected each other along the radii, created a set of parallel canals on the Jordaan quater for transportation, adding in the defensive purpose of the Singel which later converted to a residential and commercial purpose, as well as incredible employment opportunities with the construction of more than one hundred bridges. The construction began in 1613 going from west to east. Construction was completed in the southern section by 1656. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, has never been implemented. In later years, several canasl were filled in to make streets or squares such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Spui. Amsterdam’s canals is a haven for houseboats and bohemian living. The canals are flushed weekly to keep the water clean and to eliminate any stagnation or stench that usually come with canals. Every week hundreds of bicycles are dredged from the bottoms. Continue reading Amsterdam’s Infamous Canals


Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The largest city in Holland (The Netherlands) and its capital, is world-famous “Amsterdam”. It is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. It is also the headquarters for most Dutch institutions and 7 of the world’s top 500 countries including Philips and ING. Amsterdam is located in North Holland in the western portion of the country. Amsterdam boasts over a million people (2008) and merged with the northern part of the Randstad, is the 6th largest metropolitan area of Europe at over 6.7 million in population. Amsterdam is most popular for its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops all of which draw over 4.2 million visitors a year. Amsterdam is named after a dam in the river “Amstel” where the Dam Square resides today. It started as a small fishing village in the late 12th century later becoming one of the most important port cities in the world during the Dutch Golden Age due to its innovative developments in trade. At this time it became a leading center for finance and diamonds. It was named as such when the inhabitants of the area built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel had been exempted from paying a bridge toll by Count Floris and had to bound together as a city. By 1327 it was well known as “Amsterdam”. Amsterdam was granted city rights by 1306. Continue reading Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part B (4/8) – Off to Amsterdam, Zeeburg, hostel

Part B

Atop the ferris wheel in Amsterdam

Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Arising early and calculating his paycheck, Sir Thomas Leaf spontaneously decided to take Princess Brea to Amsterdam for an excursion enroute to Belgium. Rental motor carriage arranged and lodging set at a hostel in Amsterdam, routing was figured out and plans set in motion. Lord Christian graciously awoke early to shuttle Sir Thomas Leaf to Avis to pick up the motor-carriage. Within a few hours, Sir Thomas Leaf and Princess Brea were off to Holland. The Autobahn was clear and speed was actualized as the duet drove into the rain and was wondering if they would be tromping around Amsterdam in the rain. Quite a few pockets of traffic congestion between Dusseldorf, Germany and Amsterdam, The Netherlands – but by 3:00 pm they arrived at the Park n’ Ride to store the rental, hop the bus to the hostel, and check in. A little lost in the rain, tromping around a neighbourhood they were unfamiliar with, they got a little frustrated as they tried to find where to go. Eventually they made it, checked into a very spacious hotel-like hostel, and unwound before setting off to explore the historic part of Amsterdam.


Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 14, Part B (4/8) – Off to Amsterdam, Zeeburg, hostel