Best walks in Bristol

Explore Bristol's beautiful riverbanks, woodlands and nature reserves with our round up of city walks

Balloons over river at sunrise
Published: April 30th, 2022 at 6:27 am

Formally the county of Avon, Bristol county – which encompasses the city of Bristol – covers 40 square miles and is bordered by Gloucestershire to the north and Somerset to the south.

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The River Avon is a key feature of the county, winding east to west through the heart of Bristol and into the River Severn. Indeed, it is the River Avon that has shaped the city and its surrounds, its accessibility to the open ocean making it a key trading point for centuries – not least during the Bristol slave trade between 1700 and 1807.

Historically, Bristol has been described as a city built on seven hills, but in truth there are many more and most walks in and around the centre include at least a little bit of climbing. The rewards are worth it, however. Discover some of the most beautiful parts of the county with our favourite walking routes.


Best walks in Bristol

Leigh Woods

8 miles/12.8km | 5 hours | moderate

Woodland path
Discover Leigh Woods' labyrinth of woodland trails/Credit: Getty

This walk gives you three alternative views of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, while visiting several of Bristol’s most-loved sites. Some are well known, such as Avon Gorge, but a few less familiar attractions, such as the rockslide, are off the tourist radar but cherished by locals.

Leigh Woods walking route and map


Greenbank Cemetery and Clay Bottom

1.7 miles/2.8km | 1 hour | easy

Gravestones and trees
Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones commemorating those who served and died in World War 1 and interred at Greenbank Cemetery/Credit: Tracy Packer Photography, Getty

Nature has a wonderful habit of popping up where you least expect it. Concrete is no match for a determined seedling, and birds can find a home in even the most built-up of environments.

This walk in the city of Bristol is a prime example of nature reclaiming space. It starts among the overgrown gravestones and dove-inhabited chapel of Greenbank Cemetery, before crossing an old railway viaduct that is now a nature reserve. The walk then loops through a patchwork of colourful allotments, under the viaduct and back to the start.

Greenbank Cemetery and Clay Bottom walking route and map


Eastwood Farm Local Nature Reserve

1.1 miles/1.8km | 45 minutes | easy

Trees and river
View from Conham River Park towards Eastwood Farm and the River Avon/Credit: Maria Fernandez Garcia

Eastwood Farm is looked after by Friends of Eastwood Farm, a small group of local residents who work with Bristol City Council on habitat improvement and visitor access, among other things. Thanks to their hard work, the local nature reserve has become an urban oasis for many. For such a short walk, this circular route on the edge of Bristol passes through a surprising array of habitats. Discover wild woods and lush meadows before returning along the banks of the River Avon.

As you’re out on your walk, look for kingfishers and herons along the river, bluebells and woodpeckers among the trees, and grazing roe deer beside the water meadows.

Eastwood Farm Local Nature Reserve walking route and map


Bishops Knoll and Old Sneed Park

2.4 miles/3.8km | 2 hours | moderate

Steps through woodland
Wander along overgrowth pathways in Bishops Knoll/Credit: Don Cload, Geograph

Bishops Knoll is Bristol’s very own The Secret Garden, a steep-sided woodland of wending paths and ancient trees, bursting with natural and historical wonder. Wander through the old terraced gardens, discover a Victorian folly and marvel at the exotic veteran trees – the Monterey cypress, giant coast redwood and an Austrian black pine – that stand tall among a supporting cast of native oak, hazel and hawthorn. The woods are a popular hang-out spot for tits, jays and robins, as well as sparrowhawks, buzzards and tawny owls.

After the enchantment of Bishops Knoll, the walk emerges from the trees onto the banks of the River Avon, bending downstream before returning to the start via a beautiful wildflower meadow and duck pond.

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Bishops Knoll and Old Sneed Park walking route and map

Authors

Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamSection editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the Section Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.

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