Described by many as a city nestled in the heart of the countryside, Bristol is home to more than 400 parks, gardens, nature reserves and other outside spaces offering everything from sweeping city views to playgrounds, woodland walks, and more. Here are just a few of the outdoor offerings you could enjoy in and around this very special city.
Manor Woods Valley
Located in south west Bristol, this nature reserve has everything from woodlands to wildflower meadows and offers beautiful views of the Malago stream. Manor Woods Valley benefits from defined footpaths and tarmac tracks, which makes it accessible for all. Enjoy a series of self-guided walks, look out for wildlife and stunning orchids, and explore the community orchard, all of which are thriving in the heart of south Bristol.
Ashton Court Estate
Positioned to the west of Bristol’s centre, Ashton Court Estate is a spectacular country park and mansion offering 850 acres of grass and woodlands, 15 heritage ponds, deer parks, two cafes, a picnic area, and more. There are numerous activities for visitors to enjoy, including woodland walks, deer walks, birdwatching, mountain biking, and a miniature railway. Ashton Court Estate also hosts a weekly parkrun and the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
Avon New Cut
Running from the Cumberland Basin to Temple Meads Railway Station, Avon New Cut is a beautiful nature reserve situated alongside the River Avon. Avon New Cut is home to a number of animal species and plant life, and aside from some steps at Vauxhall Bridge and the Banana Bridge, is mostly wheelchair accessible. The area is open to the public 24/7, there are no admission fees, and there are several nearby car parks at the Maritime Heritage Centre and Brunel Lock Road.
Located between the areas of Coombe Dingle, Henleaze and Eastfield, Canford Park dates to the Victorian era and houses a bowling green, several football pitches and tennis courts, and a children’s play area. There is a measured 600m route for running, jogging or walking, a beautiful sunken garden and lily pond, a cafe, Grade II listed drinking fountain, and a plethora of outdoor seating to enjoy.
This hillside nature reserve overlooks the River Avon and provides spectacular views across Bristol. Once a former mine in the eastern part of Bristol, the area was named as a Local Nature Reserve in the mid-1990s and is now an important habitat for local wildlife and plants, in part because it has acidic soils. Troopers Hill is a great place for families as its high vantage point makes it ideal for flying kites, and those interested in local history can join one of the free guided tours which are run by the Friends of Troopers Hill.
Blaise Castle Estate
Located in north west Bristol, Blaise Castle Estate boasts 650 acres of Grade II registered parkland and a Gothic-style folly dating to 1766. Alongside the museum, castle and National Trust property that sit on the site, visitors can also explore the plant nursery, dairy and gardens, picnic areas, cricket pitch, lily pond, and children’s play area. There are a number of activities run on the site, including a two-mile horse riding trail and Nordic walking sessions, as well as numerous dedicated walking routes, including the Gorge walk, which offers beautiful views of the gorge and its surrounding woodland.
Royate Hill Nature Reserve
Located in the north east Bristol suburb of Eastville Royate Hill Nature Reserve is positioned partly on the top of a railway viaduct that was originally constructed as part of the Clifton Extension Railway in the 1870s, the area was named as a Local Nature Reserve in 1996 following campaigns from local people and the Avon Wildlife Trust to protect it from development. Today, visitors can explore beautiful woodland and wildflower meadows, and admire the picturesque Coombe Brook, which flows beneath the railway arches.
Begbrook Green Park
Located between Cheswick Village, Bromley Heath and Hillfields, Begbrook Green Park is a wheelchair-accessible open space with a number of features and facilities, including a rock climbing wall, bowling green, football pitches, outdoor exercise stations, and several playgrounds for children of all ages.
Dame Emily Park
Dame Emily Park is located in the heart of the Bedminster area of the city and is an accessible space with plenty of green space to enjoy, as well as a skate park, under 10s playground, basketball court, and a community garden managed by the Dame Emily Park Project.
Other Community Parks
Bristol is also home to a number of smaller community parks, which can be enjoyed by all. Cotham Gardens is a compact Victorian Park in north Bristol and has a play area ideal for children under 12. Queen Square is located in the heart of Bristol, and its beautiful open space, level lawns, and well-maintained gravel paths offer ample space to sit and breathe in the middle of a city environment.