From the village feel of Clifton, through the colourful Harbour Side and to the edge of Leigh Woods, Bristol managed to balance the need for city and country life to perfection. Having lived in Bristol for over 5 years, I've decided to create a small list of my absolute favorite green spaces for nature lovers, right in the heart of the city. So here are the best things to do around Bristol.
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Things to do around Bristol
A city must be able to offer its residents access to great infrastructure, myriad shopping opportunities, a vast amount of cafés and eateries, great honest businesses and of course, plenty of recreational spaces. Cities have long been synonymous with concrete jungles, and every once in a while one must be able to escape the agitation and be transported into a world a zen. For that, a city needs grasslands, woodlands, river paths and plenty of trails.
Perhaps no other green space in Bristol is as popular as the Ashton Court. This huge country park features woodlands, vast areas of grassland and a spectacular mansion house surrounded by old evergreens and a specific English rose garden. The Ashton Court is famed for its inhabitant, deer and stags, which freely meander on the plains, in a dedicated part of the estate. Rabbits, birds and many other woodland creatures can be spotted around too. During sunny afternoons, families with children come to Ashton Court for a stroll and a lazy lounge on the grass. A popular spot for picnics, many come here too to celebrate the British summer.
Ashton Court is also used for several festivals, including the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, an internationally acclaimed event which brings thousands of people together. Ashton Court has several mountain bike trails, to suit all ranges of cycling enthusiasts, from beginners to proficient riders.
In my opinion, Blaise Estate is one of the most underrated green spaces in Bristol. Until I discovered it by mistake, never heard of its existence. It features an amazing forested trail right next to a tiny river, a beautiful castle and plenty of lookout points from the surrounding hills, which enables you to feel truly remote, although you haven't even left the city.
Many take advantage of the grasslands right in front of the Blaise Museum, picnic with your loved ones or just chill in the sunshine. Alternatively, the outdoor lovers grab the walking boots and spend a few hours exploring the woodlands and its most inconspicuous muddy trails.
I especially love walking around Leigh Woods when it's raining. Rather bizarre, I know, especially because nobody enjoys getting drenched, but I can't think of anything more relaxing than a forested walk during challenging weather conditions. Leigh Woods is pretty wonderful and fun under the sunshine, but it's also quite a popular spot amongst mountain bikers, nature and outdoor lovers. When it's raining, however, nobody seems to be around. Just me, strolling around in my waterproofs. This is when you can hear nothing but the sound of your footsteps, the playful wind dancing around the leaves and the raindrops playing music on the forest canopy. It's a rare thing to be able to find such zen right in the middle of a busy city. Whether you decide to visit this beautiful woodland during sun or rain, you will find plenty of walking trails, most dotted with beautiful lookouts over the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Here, you can immerse yourself in forests of ash, oak and lime trees, and even hideaway in a wooden house, specially built for travellers and locals alike to come together and share their stories.
Brandon Hill, the oldest park in Bristol, offers wonderful views over the city and the Harbour Side. As its name suggests, this is a hilly terrain which features beautiful paths, a nature conservation area and the Cabot Tower which serves as its main attraction. Open to the public, anyone can freely enter the tower and climb the stairs to the very top, effort rewarded with 360 degrees views over the city of Bristol. The park is dotted with wooden benches where one can take a seat, admire the views and read a book.
Due to its proximity to the city centre and the Harbourside, Castle Park is a very popular festival ground during the summer months. On sunny days, the park gets especially busy during lunch time when workers from the nearby offices come together to eat and relax during their break. Many come to Castle Park to run, walk or cycle. Castle Park is especially known for hosting Lave Saves The Day, a music festival which brings people together from all over the UK.
There are countless green spaces, parks and recreational areas available in Bristol. If you are a nature lover, then a visit to this super green city is an absolute must. What is your favourite park or woodland in Bristol? Tell me about your Bristol green experiences in the comments section below.