Bristol is the best place to live in the UK. Fact. That is the claim from numerous media outlets in the last few months. Of course I agree; I’ve lived here for nine years and I work for VisitBristol! One of the best things about living here is that Bristol is small enough to retain its friendliness but large enough to keep some surprises up its sleeve. One of those surprises was on Sunday when I took the family for a walk in Stoke Park Estate, one of the hundreds of open spaces in the city.

Stoke Park Estate contains two iconic Bristol landmarks; the Purdown BT Tower and the yellow Dower House. It is comprised of several woods and green open spaces and runs alongside the western edge of the M32 from junctions two to one.

After parking up we walked along a ridge with some great views over the east of the city as well as towards the centre before passing the Purdown BT Tower and some WWII gun emplacements. We emerged into a huge meadow and dropped down past some woodland and out towards a fishing lake. Up on the hillside ahead a braver person than me was power paragliding off a bank whilst mountain bikers passed us and horseshoe prints appeared in the muddier patches. Further ahead was the Dower House. This is the big yellow mansion that you see when driving out of the city. It was originally built in 1553 and was converted into flats in 2004.

A quick circuit of the fishing lake brought us to a track leading back up the hill and through the woodland alongside the road. This was a good reminder that we were still in the heart of a city and not the middle of the countryside!

Extreme sports, walking, horse-riding, woodland adventures, amazing views, history and landmarks all in a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon made for a happy family. We will be back as there is so much more to explore. I just can’t believe we’ve never been before!

By Jon Chamberlain

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