One of the best ways to reach green corners of Bristol and the surrounding area is to hop on your bike. With many cycle paths and bike-friendly routes to follow, it doesn’t take long to pedal your way to tranquil hangouts steeped in nature and wildlife.

Here are five beauty spots you can cycle to from the city centre.

Blaise Castle Estate

Explore the picturesque Grade II* registered parkland and wooded gorge at Blaise Castle Estate.

As well as open fields and leafy trails under a canopy of trees, there are exciting sights to check out en route. Head all the way up the hill to see the 18th century folly and epic views, look for signs of Bristol’s mythical giants and discover manmade caves.

Visit the Blaise Museum for a fascinating social history of the estate’s mansion house, featuring everyday objects from centuries past. If you have the family in tow, there's also a fun playground with a huge slide, as well as a cafe where you can refuel with sandwiches and snacks.

How to get to Blaise Castle Estate by bike

Ride along the Portway cycle route to Sea Mills and then follow Sea Mills Lane and Bell Barn Road towards Blaise Castle Estate. There are cycle racks outside the café. Cyclists are welcome to ride through the estate but please be considerate of other people using the paths.

Folly castle in park
Image - The folly at Blaise Castle Estate

Leigh Woods

The idyllic Leigh Woods is one of the most popular destinations for Bristol mountain bikers. Purpose built trails weave through the broadleaf woodland, ranging from the beginner-friendly ‘Yer Tiz’ to ‘Gert Lush’ for experienced off-road cyclists. Head to Pedal Progression for mountain bike hire and guided rides from Ashton Court Estate.

Experiencing Leigh Woods at a slower pace on foot is just as good. As a National Nature Reserve and Special Area of Conservation, it’s a prime place for spotting rare species of plants, insects, fungi and animals, with an impressive collection of ancient and veteran trees to admire. You might also bump into the cattle who graze there.  

How to get to Leigh Woods by bike

You can easily reach Leigh Woods by following the Portway cycle route from Bristol city centre. Bike parking is available in the car park.

People on mountain bikes in field
Image - Pedal Progression

Avon Valley Woodlands

Another nature reserve on the outskirts of Bristol is Avon Valley Woodlands, which covers Conham River Park, Hencliff Wood and Bickley Wood.

These woods were once quarries (stone used to build the Clifton Suspension Bridge piers came from here), which is why you'll see interesting ridges, hollows and cliffs among the trees today. The site is rich with wildflowers and wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the blue flash of kingfishers by the river, peer into the bat cave and visit in spring for bluebells.

Work up some energy for the cycle ride back with lunch at Beese’s riverside bar, which is open during the spring and summer months. Or head for one of the two pubs with waterside tables at Hanham Lock – the Chequers Inn and the Old Lock and Weir, both open throughout the year.

How to get to Avon Valley Woodlands by bike

Follow the River Avon Trail from the city centre, which will take you past Troopers Hill – another beauty spot with great views. You can lock your bike at Conham River Park or cycle on to Hanham Lock. Bear in mind this part of the trail is narrow and can get very muddy in winter.

Conham River Ferry CREDIT Hugh Jones
Image - Conham River Ferry, credit Hugh Jones  

Snuff Mills and Oldbury Court Estate

Snuff Mills is a pretty wooded valley along the River Frome that was once the site of an old mill, part of which you can still see today. It’s a particularly peaceful corner of Bristol that’s home to diverse wildlife. If you’re really lucky, you may even see an otter.

The riverside paths lead on to Oldbury Court, an expansive estate with Grade II registered parkland and woodland, where you’ll find plenty of perfect picnicking spots. Lock your bike up at Snuff Mills car park and explore by foot or cycle through.

How to get to Snuff Mills by bike

Follow the Frome Valley Greenway, which takes your through another of the city’s much-loved green spaces, Eastville Park. Stoke Park is also just a short ride away from the Snuff Mills car park.

Man walking two dog in Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills
Image - The River Frome in Snuff Mills

Arnos Vale Cemetery

A short bike ride from the city centre gets you to this beautiful Victorian garden cemetery – one of the most intriguing and tranquil places in Bristol.

As well as being a heritage site where you can wander among centuries-old gravestones, Arnos Vale Cemetery is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. Winding woodland paths are lined with an amazing mix of plants and trees, from gnarled old yews to pretty primroses.

Watch out for wildlife too. Woodpeckers, foxes, badgers, owls, bats and many more creatures and critters live in the cemetery or pass through.

How to get to Arnos Vale Cemetery by bike

Follow the St Philip's Greenway – Whitchurch Railway Path through Redcliffe to Sparke Evans Bridge, which you cross to reach Arnos Vale Cemetery. There are bike racks by the East Lodge and by the café.

Aerial view of Arnos Vale Cemetery
Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery, credit Paul Box