What it's like
Bristol might be a big city – the UK’s ninth most populous – but it’s a small county so any outdoor stuff is going to be hemmed in by built-up areas and busy roads. But does this detract from the quality? Not at all: as an outdoor venue, Bristol’s about as good as a city can get, with stacks of quality rock climbing, some pretty decent mountain biking, and at least a couple of decent-size walks, all within spitting distance of the busy centre.
The action’s focused to the south and west of the City, where the River Avon has sliced itself a sizeable gorge through what would have once been lofty limestone downs. South of the river, the gorge is crowned with expansive wooded parkland: Leigh Woods and Ashton Court, both providing excellent walking and mountain biking, and feeling like another world despite being less than two miles from the Bus Station; and on the other bank, high above vertiginous cliffs, lie the Clifton Downs: mainly open parkland that backs onto bustling shopping streets and grid-locked trunk roads.
The two are joined by Brunel’s Suspension Bridge – a distinctive icon that is truly spectacular from any perspective – and beneath this, the limestone cliffs of the gorge offer literally hundreds of rock climbing routes, mainly multi-pitch, in all grades.
Further out, just a few miles down the Avon, the grounds of the Blaise Castle Estate, provide yet more steep, wooded slopes, another limestone gorge and some fine views westwards to the Severn Estuary.
- Ashton Court On foot or on bike, there’s some great paths and trails around the wooded fringes of Ashton Court, and these can be linked with Leigh Woods for greatviews of the Suspension Bridge
- Avon Walkway Once a riverside railway, now a well-surfaced multi-use track that hugs the banks of the Avon and ducks beneath Brunel’s magnificent bridge.
- Blaise Castle More delightfully wooded parkland a few miles further out of town, wedged between Henbury and Westbury on Trym
Must see and do
- Rock Climbing, Avon Gorge With hundreds of multi-pitch routes this close to the city, who needs a wall?
- The Waterfront The renovated warehouses of Bristol’s once-thriving docks now house cinemas, bars ands restaurants.
- Timberland Trail A purpose-built singletrack mountain bike route just a short pedal from the centre.
Destination County : Bristol