Crisp air, frost-coated foliage and beautiful views - an invigorating wintry walk is the perfect antidote to over-indulgence at Christmas. So, resist the urge to hibernate and head out on one of these head-clearing strolls around Bristol instead…

Clifton suspension bridge

Image - Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Harbourside  

When the mist rises on a chilly winter’s morn, the Harbourside is a sight to behold. You can walk round the whole Floating Harbour in a circuit that ticks off many of Bristol’s sights and attractions in one go. Start at M Shed and carry on past CARGO at Wapping Wharf, then on towards Spike Island, Brunel’s SS Great Britain and Underfall Yard, spotting Cabot Tower, The Matthew, a Banksy and multi-coloured houses as you go. Loop back round through Millennium Square, past We The Curious, Watershed and Arnolfini. Warm your cockles with some scrumptious grub at one of the many fantastic restaurants, pubs and bars that line the water’s edge.

The Downs

Particularly striking when covered in a frosty blanket, The Downs is a whopping 440 acres in size. It’s pretty flat and therefore suitable for miniature legs and any mobility. Bordering Clifton and Redland, there are some beautiful houses to swoon over as well as tree-lined avenues and stunning views over the Avon Gorge, Clifton Suspension Bridge and distant Severn Bridge. Finish up in handsome Clifton Village and warm your bones with a hot chocolate in one of the many cafés.  

Snowy downs

Image - The Downs

Twinkly urban walk

Make the most of Bristol’s yuletide illuminations and glittering walkways with an amble starting from the fountains near the Harbourside, all the way up lung-busting Park Street and on to Clifton Village, where the elegant shop fronts are decorated with Christmas trees. Run out of puff halfway? No problem, stop in for a glorious sour-dough-nut from Pinkmans to keep you going.

Clifton Christmas

Image - Clifton at Christmas

Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill

Located just off Park Street, Brandon Hill offers mighty views over Bristol, all the way out to the Mendip Hills – even more enchanting when the ground is a frost-bitten white. Banish shivers with a steep climb up Cabot Tower where the views get even better! Discover more of Bristol’s best views in our blog

Blaise Castle Estate

Very popular with families, thanks to its museum, folly castle, buggy-friendly paths and humongous children's play area. Pathways lead past the impressive stately home and museum, through a wooded gorge. Youngsters will love seeking landmarks relating to the mythical Bristol giants within the grounds. Drop in on 9 December for some old-fashioned Victorian merriment, when the mansion house will be decked with boughs of holly and evergreens. There’ll also be carols, storytelling, dressing-up and festive family craft. 

Ashton Court Estate

Take some winter air at Ashton Court Estate, a massive stretch of countryside that lies just the other side of Clifton Suspension Bridge. 850 acres of wide-open green space and woodland welcome cyclists, mountain-bikers, horse riders, golfers, families and walkers (and plenty of wheelchair and buggy-friendly paths). Deer wander in fenced-off areas and the views across the city are breath-taking, especially when bathed in a magical wintry light. Behind the stately home there’s a dog-friendly café in the old stables. A great spot for sledging, should it be cold enough for snow.

Ashton Court Estate

Image - Ashton Court Estate

Leigh Woods

Not far from Ashton Court Estate, this National trust woodland is great for a drizzly day as many of the paths run under cover of the trees. There’s a range of colour coded paths (some are buggy-friendly) and mountain bike tracks as well as a play trail for little ones and often family-friendly activities going on. For a great wintry photo opportunity, make your way to Nightingale Valley on the edge of the woods for jaw-dropping views over the Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge.

Leigh woods

Image - Nightingale Valley, Leigh Woods, credit Liz Milner

Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills 

Perfect for strollers in need of wheel-friendly paths and kiddy entertainment, there’s a wonderful play park for kids, riverside walks, a nature trail, orienteering path and lots of bird and squirrel life. Beyond the parkland, you can follow the path down to the river Frome, then on towards Snuff Mills, an historic section of the Frome Valley Walkway. Discover more parks and gardens in Bristol

Arnos Vale Cemetery

This beautiful wooded Victorian garden cemetery just off the Bath Road covers 45-acres. It’s wonderfully peaceful, rich in walks, wildlife and fabulous architecture. Throughout the year, they run atmospheric after-hours tours, revealing Arnos Vale’s darker side, tragic tales, folk customs and Victorian funeral etiquette. There’s also a huge range of activities on offer all year-round – look out for their winter wreath making workshop, Christmas carol concert as well as detective projects for kids and lots of yoga classes this winter.

Tyntesfield

Amble around the National Trust’s Tyntesfield house and gardens during the winter months and you’ll find more of the estate open for dogs to visit – this time, known as ‘Winter walkies’, runs from 30 October until 25 February 2018. At Christmas time the estate gets back to its Victorian roots with lots of old-fashioned festivities (until 3 Jan). Look out for ‘Tyntesfield All Aglow’, (11, 12, 18 and 19 Dec from 5-8pm) a chance to explore the estate after dark when the paths, trees and gothic house itself will be lit up in colourful lights.

Tyntesfield

Image - Tyntesfield, credit Steve Young

Westonbirt The National Arboretum

Come Christmas time, Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas sees its beautiful forest trails come alive at night, illuminated in dazzling colours and festooned with thrilling sensory experiences along the way.  Christmassy characters (including Mr Claus), festive food and drink add even more wintry delights (selected dates between 1-18 Dec). Read more about it on our blog

Enchanted Christmas

Image - Enchanted Christmas, Westonbirt

Chew Valley

Just a short drive out of Bristol and you’re in the beautiful rolling countryside of the Chew Valley. For a lovely rural ramble, the Chew Magna walk is a lovely circular riverside walk, starting from Chew Valley Lake picnic area and passing through picturesque villages, Chew Stoke and Chew Magna before returning to the lakeside. Less than 3 miles away is Michelin-starred pub The Pony and Trap, which does a phenomenal roast – perfect for ravenous walkers.

WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre

Celebrate the wonder of winter birds at Slimbridge, one of the UK’s best nature reserves, just a short motor up the M5. A lovely place to roam around just gazing at birdlife, there are lots of winter events to get involved with too. Hear the warden’s commentary as he feeds the thousands of wintering wild birds and Bewicks Swans, see the magic of a floodlit feed on Swan Lake before tucking into a yummy meal in the restaurant. Take part in wildlife-themed activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers, elf den building and marshmallow toasting! Santa himself will also be dropping in this Christmas.

Wild Bird Feed

Image - Wild Bird Feed, WWT Slimbridge

Cheddar Gorge

A world-famous beauty spot and one of the UK’s most spectacular natural sights, not far from Bristol. The cliff top gorge walk, with its sweeping views, dramatic cliffs, crags, pinnacles and caverns make this an exhilarating spot for a bracing winter walk. Keep an eye out for local wildlife – the gorge is home to goats, sheep, bats and birds.

Cheddar Gorge

Image - Cheddar Gorge

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