Bristol is quite rightly a fine place to be right now. Not only was it voted by The Times as the UK’s Most Liveable City, it was Green Capital in 2015 and was also designated the UK’s first “Cycle City”.
So you’d think there would be plenty on offer to accommodate its outdoorsy city dwellers, said to be the most active in the UK. And you’re sure right! Here’s the lowdown on the best Bristol activities on offer.
If ever you feel the need to look at a map of Bristol, you’ll notice gaping green space to the west of the City Centre. Ashton Court mansion was once an estate owned by a wealthy family of merchants. Now managed by the city council, this Grade 2 protected area of natural beauty is one of the most loved of Bristol’s many green spaces. Two fantastic MTB trails have been built that form the closest to any UK city. Bike hire can be found on site, and skills-coaching is available too.
For those looking for a more sedate afternoon outdoors, there are also two “Pitch and Putt” golf courses, a deer park and several miles of walking trails. The estate has also played host to several music festivals through the years.
It’s fair to say that Bristol likes its festivals. In fact, there are so many varieties of festivals through the year it’s often difficult to choose between them. The biggest and (some say) the best has to be the Harbour Festival. A celebration of Bristol’s nautical past, this free festival now boasts several music stages scattered around the city, a French food market and various interactive workshops.
Another of Bristol’s flagship festivals is the annual Balloon Fiesta. The twice daily ‘ascent’, with the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge as a backdrop, is a sight to behold, as is the spectacular ‘Nightglow’. Food, cider and beer festivals have become increasingly popular as Bristol’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene steps outdoors. Some of the best include Foodies Festival, Love Food Festival and Bristol Beer Festival (held in the Brunel built Passenger Shed).
For those looking for a trip down memory lane to the days of permed hair and double denim, Let’s Rock Bristol is a great way to let your hair down.
Bristol’s rock climbing enthusiasts are lucky enough to enjoy one of the most beautiful spots in the country. The winding gash of Avon Gorge designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a 70 metre high winding crag of quarried limestone. Several specialist companies offer rock climbing and abseiling activity days.
The craze of Stand Up Paddle Boading, or SUPing as it has become known, has spread like wild fire over recent years. And Bristol’s River Avon certainly plays host to one of the most scenic and easily accessible urban locations around. So pick up your paddle and jump on board – it’s harder than it looks though!
Beeses had for years been a bit of a hidden secret, until recently enjoyed only by savvy Bristolians in the know. But thanks to several local boating operations, and a bit of prior organisation with the landlord, it has become much more easily accessible. Following an interesting ride along the River Avon, passing industrial relics of old opening up to stunning river vistas beyond the city’s limits, approaching Beeses feels like you’ve really stumbled upon something really quite special. A lovely English garden with lovely views of the river provides the perfect setting, before all jumping aboard once more for the return home.
No trip to Bristol would not be complete without getting yourself immersed into the famous ways of the country in this part of the world. West Country Games celebrates all things “West”, so put on your wellies and straw hats for one of the most hilarious days out you’ve had in a while. Battle it out with your mates in hugely funny games such as Vicky Pollard Handbags, The Cider Run, Mangold Dangling and Wurzel Knockout to name a few.
When your Mangold really has been completely dangled, head to the farm restaurant on site for a picnic lunch washed down with local cider to round off a great day in the country. Proper job!
Bristol’s ballooning heritage goes back a long way, with Cameron Balloons knocking them out from its nearby factory. There really is no better way of seeing Bristol’s famous Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge than from a small wicker basket up in the skies.
A real summer highlight would be to combine your ballooning experience with the aforementioned Balloon Fiesta, when hundreds ascend over the weekend.
More information - http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/
A crossed between orienteering and problem solving and adventure racing, this activity is a fantastic way for a group of friends or colleagues to bond together. Conveniently located around Bristol’s historic Harbourside, the area is divided into separate zones in which you must complete a tricky set of challenges.
Using a map, compass and clues your team must navigate by foot to outwit other challengers and win the challenge.
Aha me hearties! Perhaps one of Bristol’s best loved attractions, join Pirate Pete on his tours around this city’s famous maritime history. Tours last around one hour and are a great way to discover Bristol’s turbulent past.
A great way to finish off would be to step inside one of the old haunts of swashbucklers of the 18th and 19th centuries, which are just as popular today.
The Avon Gorge, a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the perfect backdrop for the Leigh Woods walking trails. Dozens of interlinking trails loop their way through the woods, before opening up to offer stunning views of the gorge.
The woods really are a local hidden gem. What other city allows you to move from city to nature within a 30 minute walk from the Harbourside?
Leigh Woods information and trauil maps - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leigh-woods
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