Purton Ships’ Graveyard

I was led to this intriguing place back in May this year and it really didn’t disappoint. The Purton Ships’ Graveyard is quite an extraordinary and most surprising find along the shores of the River Severn.

From the working docks at Sharpness, a narrow hedgerow walk with a canopy of damson trees opened up to reveal a vast, deep and very dark expanse of water with a lock. This is the entry point where ships join the canal from the river, it was rather eerie but it soon lead to the hustle and bustle of long boat inhabitants all moored up alongside the waterside edge. The views across this stretch of the river were invigorating and Wales across the way felt almost within reach, apart from the vast expanse of silky sand and deep narrow channel that divided us. The tide was out and the banks of grass waved in drifts as the air moved gently through.

We walked along a grassy path, flanked on one side by the river and the other by the canal, it was fascinating to read up on the history as we went. There once was a railway bridge that connected Sharpness and Chepstow along this part of the river which transported coal from one side to the other, but unfortunately it was knocked down in 1960. Two barges overshot the docks and collided with one of the bridge columns in thick fog, sending it up in flames, four sailors lost their lives and the bridge was beyond worthy of repair.

Further along, the path gradually dipped down onto the river bank and before long sightings of boat skeletons lay dotted along the edges. These boats were purposely sunk and laid to rest here in order to provide protection for the river bank of the canal. The surrounding views are truly atmospheric and the peace is nothing but tranquil.

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