Sheffield Drop Offs – Part 3

As you probably know by now I spent last week in Sheffield, mainly to work on my writing, but also with the aim to drop off a couple of bottles.

I wrote about my preparation in a first part here. There I showed you the four bottles I prepared, the four bottles that Peter sent me to dispatch for him, and I also mentioned that I packed two empty bottles for possible by-standers to fill.

In the second part I spoke about arriving in Sheffield and discovering that the Don where I put my bottles is full of little islands, had little water and current and in addition a lot of weirs. I dropped in both bottles nonetheless, and was able to observe Peter’s bottle getting stuck pretty much immediately, so probably now you want to know what happened next with it.

Peter’s Bottle No. 100

On the top of the blog you can see how I left Peter’s No. 100 behind on Tuesday the 9th. The place was just a 10 minute walk from my hotel, so the plan was of course to check the next day whether it was still there.

I was extremely lucky with the weather: The 10th was sunny and warm and felt more like a September than like an October day. When I came to the place at around noon, I was first pleased to see that the bottle was gone and apparently had moved on:

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Nothing to see – Yay!

The whole board against which the bottle was resting moved a few meters along the river (I think that old christmas tree in there remained stationary, so you can compare with that), and in the process it obviously gave the bottle free.
I continued to walk along the river (I had more bottles to dispatch after all, but more about that later) and spotted the bottle again, only 20 or 30m further downstream.

I believe you can click on the images to see them in enlarged (I hope so), in the second image I placed arrows where the bottle got stuck on the first and the second day. Of course I had to check again on my way back. The bottle had made a few more meters further downstream where it rested again with some other junk but still above the foot bridge located there.

The forecast for the next day (11th) predicted a day with showers moving through. I woke up to skies that looked somewhat threatening, and so I started early while it was still dry. The wind was blowing in gusts, but no rain. I first walked to the spot I last saw Peter’s bottle. It had moved again a couple of meters. I could see it moving very slowly, and then getting stuck once more between some floating grass and other plant material.
In the photo below just a little upstream of this cut through in the wall, that’s where I last spotted it. (The photo was taken a day earlier for the stone under the bridge, but that’s a story of its own. Anyway, that’s why the bottle can’t be seen in the photo.)

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As I said, that was the last time I saw it. I went to look for it again the same day, just a couple of hours later, and I was unable to see it anywhere. Which is somewhat of a mystery to me: Given the slow manner with which it was moving I can’t understand how it could have disappeared out of sight in just a few hours. The river downstream from there looked like it had fewer hurdles, but still, it was moving at no more than half a meter per second so how far could it go? It was floating on the right hand bank which has a tall wall as its border… But who knows, maybe someone has found it already. – I hope we’ll hear from it again.

 Other drop ins

This blog post is again getting very long, and I’ll try to cut me short. As mentioned before, the weather on the 10th was wonderful, and I walked slowly down the Don, putting in two bottles from the spider bridge,  visible in the photo above if you know what to look out for, and then I sat down and filled one of the empty bottles I brought with me. I had not arranged any meet-up, no-one I saw on my hike seemed interested, and so I just ripped a few pages from my notebook and filled them with a message on the spot. I didn’t give this bottle a number, as I don’t really regard it as part of this project. Well, maybe a little.
Below are photos taken on the 10th. If you click on them, you’ll be able to read some further comments on them if you like.

The next day, the 11th, I went out in the morning to first look for Peter’s bottle and while doing so, I spotted the entrance to Victoria Quays. So I decided to take a walk along the canal for a change. Because I had already spent the better of the day before hiking along the river I cut my visit relatively short and dropped my bottle just behind the entrance to the Quays. I wasn’t sure how Peter would feel about his bottle being put in a non-flowing body of water, and besides: it smelled awfully beneath the bridge where I placed it. For a bottle containing miniature kidney bowls seemed fitting but  beautiful bottle like Peter’s? – That felt just wrong. And so I held on to that one for a while longer.

The weather stayed surprisingly nice and dry that day, and for unknown reasons I struggled to get any good work done sitting in my hotel room. And so I decided to walk to the Don once more in the afternoon. I probably should have walked upstream for a change. But I was too curious to see whether and which of the dropped off bottles I might spot. Because I didn’t feel like dropping a bottle from a bridge where I already had been, I walked further than before, right into a nature reserve that made it almost feel like I had left the city. There I dropped then my last bottle, the No. 103 into the Don, and Peter’s 102.

On my walk to there I spotted two of my bottles: the unnumbered one above the weir at Norfolk bridge where I dropped it in, and one of my small bottles below the weir. I am not sure which of the two it was as the sun was reflecting so much that it was hard to see what was inside, but looking at the photos now, I am pretty sure it was the 102 that I put in from spider bridge the day before.

While walking along the river, the canal and through the city I made many more pictures with little and big things I spotted, street art and loving little details, imagining showing them to you. But my report is taking way too much time and space already, and I don’t want to bore anyone. Many thanks for your interest, dear reader, who has read until here. I’ll just let that guy below that I spotted on one of my excursion wave you good bye.

Like always, I wish all my bottles a good and far travel and happy finders.  – Next up will be the dispatch of Peter’s bottle No. 103 from Trent Bridge in West Bridgeford. Stay Tuned!

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Sheffield: Part 2 – Day 1, Twice the No. 100

From 9th – 12th October I spent a couple of days in Sheffield. They were my personal writer’s retreat: I booked myself into a hotel and spent my days there to write. BUT of course I carried a couple of bottles to dispatch, too. I had a really good time, with walks along the river and canal, discovering little and big things on my excursions, with new ideas and trying marmite for the first time – and got a lot of writing done.

Unfortunately because I was writing anyway, I failed to write here on this blog while things were happening, which I now realise was a mistake: Packing everything I want to tell and show you into one big blogpost is just too much. So I decided to split it into three (or maybe it will turn out four) parts. You can find the first part here, in which I show you a bit behind the scenes bottle making.

Here’s a map of the dispatches, as some kind of preview for those who are just too curious just now (and also in case a bottle is being found already). You’ll notice that there are three kinds of markers in there: the blue ones are where I dropped off my bottles, the red ones are sightings, and the green ones are where I dropped off Peter’s bottles.

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Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

Day 1 – Upper Don Walk

I arrived in Sheffield later than expected on Tuesday, due to a derailed train at Sheffield train station. I had planned to first visit the river and then check in, but now I decided to first go to the hotel. Which turned out to be a good decision since Sheffield is much more hilly than expected, and with that I mean steap streets, steep, – mountaineous! Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad, but the constant sloping makes walking with a pull along suitcase full of books and paper (I was there to write after all) a bit of a hassle. Wikipedia agrees that my feeling that Sheffield is exceptionally steep is justified:

Sheffield is a geographically diverse city. The city nestles in the eastern foothills of the Pennines, and a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter. As such, much of the city is built on hillsides with views into the city centre or out to the countryside. Blake Street, in the S6 postcode area, is the third steepest residential street in England, with a gradient of 16.6°. The city’s lowest point is just 29 metres (95 ft) above sea level near Blackburn Meadows, while some parts of the city are at over 500 metres (1,640 ft); the highest point being 548 metres (1,798 ft) at High Stones, near Margery Hill. However, 79% of the housing in the city is between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft) above sea level.

Well, I arrived on a lovely sunny and warm autumn day, and right after checking in to my hotel, I packed my backpack with some bottles, and started to walk to find the river Don. When I came closer to Lady’s Bridge (the oldest bridge in Sheffield), I discovered this:

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Well, if that’s not inviting, then I don’t know what is. I went through the arch and immediately reached the Don:

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When you look in the photo with the arch above, you’ll see that the path through the arch brought me onto a foot path along the river. From the entrance it looks like you could walk up or downstream, however the downstream path was blocked by a building next to Lady’s Bridge. The photo right above here shows the view looking left, upstream, onto the bridge from where I would shortly after dispatch my first bottle in Sheffield. Looking to the right revealed the sight of the Lady’s Bridge as you can see it in the photo further above.

I followed the path upstream and crossed the next bridge, the foot bridge you can see in the photo above, and then the walk continued on the other bank. Without much hesitation I decided to throw in my first botte, the 100th message in a bottle in this project:

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The view from the bridge, a last look at the bottle, and then the farewell

My bottle drew the attention of some ducks which, although they seemed disappointed that the object that had fallen from the bridge didn’t seem edible, swam around and with it. Lazily the bottle bobbed in the water and moved very slowly. It was easy to cross the bridge, and then follow it on the Upper Don Walk until I reached came closer to the Lady’s Bridge and had to walk around a building which meant I briefly lost sight of the bottle. Up on the bridge I expected to see it again. I wanted to check whether it made it down the weir. But the glaring sun and its many reflections on the water made it hard to spot the little bottle. I have a series of photos which I shot in the believe they had the bottle on it. But upon close inspection on my computer, it looks just like waves and leaves and stones.

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Upstream view of the Don from Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

I mentioned before, that I was carrying not only my 4 bottles to Nottingham, but also Peter‘s. And as fate would have it, his bottles carry the same serial numbers as mine did. So I had another No. 100 in my backpack that wanted to be set free.
According to his blogpost he had read up on the river Don and knew to expect weirs. I was blissfully unaware of them until I saw them. I had dropped in mine without hesitation, but seeing its slow trundle along the lazy river, and also because it was rather big, I figured I’d rather drop it in from lady’s bridge, below the weir.

But, upon crossing the street and looking down the bridge, I had to realise that there was a little island just behind the bridge, blocking the free flow of the river.

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Lady’s Bridge from below the weir

I later learned, that these islands in the Don are due to the weirs. The rushing water washes up sediment, and with the water quality rising in the river, they are home to wildlife and are cherished and cared for.

Just downstream of Lady’s Bridge, the Upper Don Walk ends, and the Five Weir Walk starts. Ah, well, so there were more weirs to be expected.
From where I stood I could see the next bridge, and hoped to find a better place there to dispatch Peter’s centennial bottle. No such luck: Another island was waiting for it there. By that time, however, I was beginning to feel eager to return to me “real” work, and figured, I’d have more time tomorrow to explore more of the river, and after all, I had six more bottles to dispatch. So in it went. I took great care to find the best spot where the bottle would hopefully avoid the island. I watched it float downstream, happy that I seemed to have chosen well:

peters 100 kleiner

It went swiftly past the island, but then floated toward the right – and got stuck on a piece of driftwood. I watched it struggle for a while. The current and gusts of strong wind seemed to help it move on – almost. After a couple of minutes I gave up for the day, determined to come back the next day.