I have lived in Bristol for almost my whole life. Over the years, from childhood to adulthood, I have visited almost every corner of the city, seeking out interesting streets, spaces and wild places.
It turns out that Bristol is great for walking. A city defined by its hills and steep-sided river valleys, there are many places where nature unexpectedly creeps into inner-city neighbourhoods. The city is also blessed with some fantastic historic townscapes and green open spaces, including four large country parks within the city or on its outskirts.
This web site will eventually collect together more than thirty walks that will explore every compass point of the city and its immediate hinterland, from its busy and occasionally gritty city centre right out to the Severn Estuary coast. Join me as I lead you through hidden footpaths, secret gardens and alongside the city’s many streams and rivers, or simply explore the parks and pleasant streets of Bristol’s inner suburbs.
Of course, the shelves of the city’s book shops are already groaning with books of walks, so what makes my walks any different? Well, while many writers take their readers out in search of the pubs, villages and hills of Somerset and Gloucestershire (and there are some truly lovely country walks to be had out there), my focus is firmly on the city itself, and not just the obvious historic attractions of the city centre, the docks and Clifton (although they, of course, also play a part).
I enjoy urban walks, exploring the city’s streets with their many buildings and gardens, but my favourite environments to explore are the sorts of places where the urban meets the wild, like on the slopes of the Avon and Frome river valleys, or where pretty old villages like Westbury-on-Trym have been absorbed to become part of the wider patchwork that is Bristol. As such, many of my walks seek out this fusion of the built and natural.
All of my walks can be completed as circuits, with the exception of couple of walks along parts of the Severn Estuary coast, which are, by their nature, there-and-back-again sorts of walks.
My ideal project would be to develop these walks as an interactive smartphone app, but for now a web site will have to do. All of the walks will be made available in web page format so that you can navigate by smartphone if you wish, but also as PDF files that can be downloaded and printed.
Lastly, I would love to have your feedback. To share your experiences of my walks, or to alert me to any problems you encounter while out following the routes, please feel free to get in touch.
Some thanks are due at this point.
- Firstly to my parents: without their upbringing, in which urban, country and coastal walks were a constant feature, walking for leisure would never have been so much of a part of my DNA as it is now;
- To the community at OpenStreetMap, for preparing such high-quality mapping of the city that can be reproduced for free;
- To my friends Chris L and Ben B, whose encouragement was so valuable during my first attempt at this project when it was still supposed to be a book;
- And finally to my teenage son, for walking with me every step of the way as I brush these walks up in 2020.