Put on your walking boots and pack a camera (or maybe even a picnic if the weather is looking good), and explore some of these picturesque locations in and around the city, from nature reserves to historic estates and riverside parks.

Skip to: City green spaces - North of Bristol - South of Bristol - East of Bristol - West of Bristol

In the city

Avon Gorge

There are plenty of stunning vistas along the Avon Gorge, including viewpoints on top of Clfton Observatory or on the Clifton Suspension Bridge, but it's worth taking a walk along the River Avon from Pill or Shirehampton to really take it in the twists, turns and dramatic views along this limestone ridge as it carves its way towards Clifton and the Harbourside (there's another great lookout across the gorge at Sea Walls near Clifton Down). See if you can spot some wildlife along the way - the area is home to a variety of birds including nesting peregrin falcons, rare plant species and even a herd of goats in the gully!

Overlooking the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge from Hotel Du Vin - Credit Hotel Du Vin
Image - Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge

Arnos Vale Cemetery

An unexpected wilderness on the eastern outskirts of the city, at Arnos Vale you can find beauty in the most unexpected of places. This Victorian garden cemetery has several trails through wooded areas, past historic memorials and monuments. Pick up a Discovery Trail map from the on-site gift shop, or download it from their website to start exploring!

Graves at Arnos Vale Cemetery - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery

Blaise Castle Estate

There's plenty to discover across the 650 acres of parkland that makes up the historic Blaise Estate. One of the first spots you'll come to is the stunning viewpoint (known localled as 'Lovers Leap'), with further viewpoints at Goram's Chair and next to the Blaise Castle folly.

Nearby you'll also find the picturesque cottages that make up Blaise Hamlet, and the pretty grounds of Kings Weston House.

Couple sat on bench looking at view across forest
Image - Blaise Castle Estate

Old Sneed Park

A serene nature reserve in Stoke Bishop to the north of the city centre, Old Sneed Park has wildflower meadows, a lake and wooded areas which make it a haven for wildlife.

Leigh Woods

There are a range of walking, cycling and mountain biking trails that criss-cross this pretty forest, just across the river from the city centre. If you follow the paths towards the Avon Gorge you'll be rewarded with views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Child cycling in Leigh Woods during autumn in Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image - Leigh Woods 

Nightingale Valley

Tucked away between Brislington and St Anne's in East Bristol, you'll find a mix of woodland, steep slopes and mini meadows along the valley, which follows the Brislington Brook. You can start the circular walk from St Anne's Wood or one of the other entrances dotted around Brislington on St Anne's Terrace or Hill Lawn. It's a popular area for families and dog walkers, but also has plenty of spots where you'll want to have your camera to hand.

Nightingale Valley in Brislington - credit Jon Chamberlain
Image - Nightingale Valley in Brislington. Credit Jon Chamberlain

Snuff Mills

Formerly a home to several mills due to the fast-running River Frome that runs through the area, Snuff Mills and the neighbouring Oldbury Court Estate are now home to a range of widlife, including kingfishers, herons, otters, moorhens and many more. Some of the most photogenic spots are on the bridges and at the weir.

Weir in forest
Image - Snuff Mills

North of Bristol

Lower Woods

The largest ancient woodland in the South West is located near Wickwar in South Gloucestershire and has remain largely unchanged for hundreds of years. Explore the forest on secluded paths and clearly marked trails, and see what you find along the way. This quiet spot is popular with local wildlife, including over 30 species of butterly! There are also grazing cattle on the meadows on the edge of the woodland during autumn. Dogs are permitted in Lower Woods but requested to be on a lead.

Charfield Meadow 

Close to the pretty Gloucestershire village of Wotton-under-Edge and De Vere Tortworth Court in the South Cotswolds, Charfield Meadow is a quiet nature reserve where you can spot various species of wildflower and insects, making it burst with colour in spring and summer. 

View over fields in The Cotswolds, United Kingdom
Image - A view across the Cotswolds

Gloucester & Sharpness Canal

This area is most well-known for WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre and Berkeley Castle, but it's worth taking a few hours to explore the area around the impressive Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, which was once one of the deepest and widest in the world when it opened in 1827. There are scenic views along the length of the canal, with some of the most picturesque sections at the villages of Frampton on Severn and Purton. Nearby you'll also find Purton Ships Graveyard, an unusual site as it has a large number of deliberately abandoned and beached boats along the riverbank, which make for slightly eerie photos!

A view of the Severn Bridge, near Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image - Severn Bridge and River Severn

South of Bristol

Ashton Court Estate

One of the most popular areas for walks around Bristol, this estate has over 850 acres of woodland and grassland within easy reach of the city centre, with wildflower meadows in spring, including many species of orchid, plus a bluebell wood towards the bottom of the estate, and plentiful wild garlic in the spring. There is also a sky lark zone, so make sure to bring your binoculars in spring and summer! Walk towards the top of the estate for views across to the city, see if you can spot the deer herds (they've called Ashton Court home for over 600 years!) and once you've built up a thirst, head to Courtyard Cafe or Golf Hub Cafe for refreshments. The site also has a golf course, Foot Golf, Disc Golf and a miniature railway if you're looking for more things to do.

Aerial view of Ashton Court Estate  - Credit Jon Chamberlain
Image - Ashton Court Estate

Dundry Hill

Head to the steep slopes of Dundry for unbeatable views over Bristol and across to South Wales - if you line up your shot you can get the Clifton Suspension Bridge and both Severn Bridges in one photo! The other side of the hill has views across the Chew Valley and lakes and there are paths across the slopes which take in woodland, grassland and meadows. You can explore the area's top producers (including two vineyards) on a tour with Good Stories in Food.

People standing at Limeburn Hill vineyard in North Somerset near Bristol - credit GOOD Stories in Food
Image - Limeburn Hill vineyard on Dundry Hill. 

Chew Valley Lake

The largest lake in the region, Chew Valley Lake is a reservoir on the site of what was a small village until the 1950s. The area is now popular for fishing, birdwatching, walking and sailing, with numerous trails around the circumference of the lake. One of the most photographed parts of the lake is the water tower on Wally Lane, close to Salt and Malt, but there are also great views from the path which runs alongside the lake towards the Sailing Club, or Chew Valley Lake Walk on the Bishop Sutton side of the lake.

Nearby Blagdon Lake is also home to plenty of wildlife and pretty walking trails, and the village of Rickford has a picture-perfect 19th Century chapel that sits beside a pond if you're looking for more photo opportunities!

Bridge and turret at Chew Valley Lake - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Water tower at Chew Valley Lake

Stanton Drew

Visit this prehistoric stone circle in Somerset, just a half hour drive from Bristol and one of the largest surviving stone circles in the country. It's also close to the pretty village of Pensford (a popular spot for photographers for its Victorian viaduct which towers over the cottages and village pub) and Chew Valley Lake if you want to plan a scenic day trip.

Stanton Drew Stone Circle with trees in background - ©English Heritage
Image - Stanton Drew Stone Circle

Somerset Coal Canal

One of the most beautiful walks in the area, and mostly flat but with stunning views across the Midford and Limpley Stoke valleys, only a small section of this historic canal remains filled with water at the point where it meets the Kennet and Avon Canal at Dundas Aqueduct, which can be reached by train at nearby stations Avoncliff and Freshford. From here you can walk along the Kennet and Avon northwards into Bath or head south towards Bradford on Avon. Other drained sections of the canal near Timsbury and Midford still provide a fascinating glimpse into the area's coal mining history.

Limpley Stoke Valley - credit Visit West
Image - Limpley Stoke Valley

East of Bristol

Willsbridge Valley

Nestled among the suburban fringes of the city, this nature reserve manages to fit in several ponds, grassland, woodland and a wildlife garden. Many of the trails through the valley lead to the 19th Century Willsbridge Mill, which is now home to community-run cafe. One of the best ways to reach the area is on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, a former railway line which is now a very popular cycling and walking route between the two citites. Avon Valley Railway still run some special steam and diesel services on the remaining sections of track nearby in Bitton.

Exterior of Willsbridge Mill in Longwell Green, East Bristol - credit Willsbridge Mill
Image - Willsbridge Mill

Kelston Roundhill

This local landmark has a steep hill with a distinctive group of trees at the top. The easiest way to reach it is from the nearby village of Kelston, which is on several bus routes from Bath and Bristol. The views from the top of the hill stretches across the countryside and even to Wales on a clear day. You can stop into The Upton or Flourish Kitchen afterwards for something to eat, visit one of the riverside pubs in Saltford, or Kelston itself is home to the multi award-winning Bath Soft Cheese, who have a cafe and shop in the village.

Kelston Roundhill - credit Visit West
Image - Kelston Roundhill 

Little Solsbury Hill

If you're looking for somewhere with 360 degree views, this is the place to come to go. The site was a hill fort during the early Iron Age, and was used for agriculture from medieval times through to the 19th Century. Now the hill is home to wildflower meadows in spring and summer, and a variety of nesting birds. Bathscape has a circular walking trail map for the area which starts in Batheaston, or you can also join a path from Upper Swainswick. 

Bath from Little Solsbury Hill - Credit National Trust Images & John Miller
Image - View of Bath from Little Solsbury Hill 

West of Bristol

West Tanpit Wood

Follow a short and easy circular walk around this quiet woodland to reach Abbots Pool, which was used as a fishing spot by monks in medieval times and is now a serene spot to enjoy nature within easy reach of the city. It's near the National Trust property Tyntesfield if you want to combine a trip here with a visit to an impressive house and gardens.

Abbots Pool in Bristol - Credit Max Rawlinson
Image - Abbots Pool. Credit Max Rawlinson

Goblin Combe

A natural woodland and limestone gorge, Goblin Combe can be reached from Bristol in around 30 minutes by bus or car. From the top of the slopes and cliffs you can enjoy views across the Mendips, or do some wildlife spotting around quieter areas.

Prior's Wood

Best known for the carpet of bluebells that arrive in the woodland every spring, Prior's Wood is a lovely place to visit at any time of year. The area can get very muddy in winter though, so make sure to dress for the weather!

Bluebells in forest
Image - Bluebells in Prior's Wood

Roeberrow Warren

Set among the Mendip Hills, this new woodland is a fun place for wild walks with breathtaking views, or you can bring your mountain bike along to zoom along the maze of trails around the valley. If adventure and adrenaline is the way you like to spend a day, head to the nearby Mendip Activity Centre for a range of sports and fun, from archery to snowboarding.

Stockhill Wood

A popular choice for families and dog walkers, this large forest in the Mendips is packed with wildlife and walking routes, and also has several picnic areas if you want to stop for lunch. It's within easy reach of the attractions at Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge if you're visiting as part of a family trip.

Portbury Wharf

With over 150 acres to explore, this coastal nature reserve is an ideal spot for bridwatching, with several hides dotted across the lakes and marshes. 

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve  - Credit Max Rawlinson
Image - Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve. Credit Max Rawlinson

Sand Bay & Sand Point 

If you're after a beach stroll, Sand Bay is one of the best in the area, while Sand Point provides fantastic views across the Bristol Channel and North Somerset countryside from this hilly peninsular. It's also close to Weston-super-Mare with its beach and Grand Pier.

Sand Point and Sand Bay - Credit Max Rawlinson
Image - Sand Point. Credit Max Rawlinson

Uphill Nature Reserve

Enjoy more coastal views from Uphill Nature Reserve, which has expanses of grassland and a tower which you can climb for even better vistas, and is also a hotspot for foraging sloes in autumn. The area is sandwiched between the beach and attractions in Weston-super Mare and the slopes of Brean Down, which offers views across the Bristol Channel in one direction and Somerset Levels in the other.

A view of the beach in the Uphill area of Weston-super-Mare near Bristol - credit Dave Peters
Image - Uphill Beach

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