Little to see: the river Frome
Bristol is where it is because this is where the river Frome flows into the Avon. Firstly, the inlet provided a mooring: secondly the confluence created a peninsular with a nice defendable mound sheilded by soggy meadows.
The Avon is now a very heavily managed waterway - as noted elsewhere- and the Frome is almost completely invisible except for the evidence of street names.
The mouth of the Frome is now St Augustine's Reach. From here, the "Tramways Centre" was part of the harbour until covered over in the nineteenth century, the anchorage stopping at St Johns Bridge, now a streetsign on a segment of traffic management.
St Lewin Mead, Broadmead: mead meaning water-meadow. The river briefly resurfaces the other side of Cabot Circus, where there is a small riverside park, then it's underground again along Frome Street (a pedestrian way nestled alongside the motorway) until the Eastville sluice.
This was a small surprise for me. It is a small alley that contains some tiny shops and restaurants. It was very atmospheric walking down the steps of this charming part of Bristol.
The original name -back in the medieval era- was Queene street and some people say that the name Christmas steps is because of a scene that can be seen in a vitro window at The Chapel of the Three Kings of Cologne.
At the bottom of the steps you can taste fish and chips in one of the oldest fish and chips shops in UK. I was expecting to find many book shops like I have read about in some magazines but instead of that I found just some (empty?) buildings although most of them are from the 19th century so it’s worth just to take a look. The funny thing is that I was there during xmas so the alley was decorated for this anyway :)
There are many stories about ghosts in the street because there was supposed to be an old cemetery here in the past but I guess the locals like stories with ghosts like many people in England :)
The christmas steps are very close to Colston Hall, off Colston Street, watch out for the signs because it is almost hidden
No way to Valhalla:
the RAINBOW bridge
I'm lying. I think. Because if my guess is right this bridge is only here because there was a beaten path here and the railway cutting severed it: a 'rights of way' footbridge, actually only providing a marginal shortcut rather than a vital link.
A very ordinary bit of steelwork, it's been painted up by local children. The little oval plaques at either end tell you that you are crossing from Montpelier into St Andrews. (the one in the middle dates the bridge to 1904)
The Adam and Eve, Bristol
This pub is a good one, in between the Clifton suspension bridge and town. It serves a wide range of beers, and has a good menu. We had baguettes for lunch which were freshly cooked (maybe not made!) and filled, which did the job after a stroll to the bridge and back. There are lots of pictures and sculptures for sale, usually representing Eve.
Clifton Cathedral - worship of concrete
Bristol's Catholic cathedral lies in the leafy suburb of Clifton (on the way to the famous suspension bridge). It is interesting because it is one of Britain's newer cathedrals, completed in 1973 by Welsh architects 'Percy Thomas and Son'. It is not only interesting architecture, but a beautiful tranquil place to stop and rest, get out of the weather, or light a candle to a loved one.
I am not quite sure whether the parishioners of Clifton Cathedral worship the Big Guy, or are in love with concrete! Maybe both! The building is certainly very modern, almost brutalist on the outside. The body of the cathedral is hexagonal and can seat 1000 people. I love the texture of the concrete inside the building, imprinted by wood grain when the building was made. And interesting acoustic baffles on the ceiling. There is also some stunning modern stained glass windows.
Located on Pembroke Road in the heart of Clifton, close to major bus routes.
- Religious Travel
Spike Island Art Gallery
'Spike Island' Contemporary Visual Art Centre re-opened in February 2007. It includes some very impressive gallery spaces for exhibitions of paintings, audio-visuals and sculpture.
To finish your visit there is a large colourful cafe overlooking the River Avon, selling coffees and cakes.
'Spike Island' is the name of the long spit of land between Bristol Floating Harbour and the old tidal River Avon. The gallery is a short walk from the SS Great Britain. Bus 500 circuits Bristol city centre and passes outside the door.
Address: 133 Cumberland Road, Spike Island, Bristol
- Arts and Culture
The Old Harbour
While on the north side of the Floating Harbour - the Harbourside - there are big redevelopment projects the southern part still has the old harbour feel. Not for long though, some of the old warehouses will soon be converted into other uses, like the Bristol Industrial Museum that is located in an old warehouse (and was under reconstruction in Feb. 2007).
Until this happens you can wander around old warehouses and railtracks. As a train enthusiast for me the short walk here was worth just to take a photo of the "Trains and Pedestrian have priority" sign ;)
I took the photo of the old crane and few days after I returned to Zagreb the Discovery Channel had a programme about these devices and showed the Bristol crane as one of the first steam-operated cranes and - more surprisingly - the one that still works. They lifted a cargo rail car using just the power of steam! Hope this monument of early industrial design will be preserved!
best sunday afternoon stroll
My favourite Bristol walk. I was born and bred in Bristol and I oly started to appreciate how beautiful some of the places I saw all the time are a couple of years ago. This is perfect for a Sunday afternoon. From the centre walk along the docks to the Arnolfini, over the bridge to the industrial museum and then down to Cumberland Road. Walk along Cumber land Road until you get to a slip path that goes down alongside the river. You can walk along here for a little while. At the end there is a gate back onto the road. If you come out here you can cross over and go right up to where the Cottage pub is. If you go in to where the pub is off the road you come back to the docks and can walk pack up to the centre.
I think this walk is perfect for chillig out in Bristol. Along the way you can stop for art in the Arnolfini and Spike Island (on cumberland road), a pint in the Nova Scottia or the Cottage (sit outside when the sun is shining!) and a sandwich from Brunel Buttery or a BBQ from the mediteranean place at the end of the walk.
Leaning Tower of Bristol
Not to be outdone by Pisa and Caerphilly, Bristol has its own leaning tower! Temple Church was built in about 1460 (hence the name of the area 'Temple Meads'). Engineering and construction technology was not an exact science and, unfortunately, shortly after the tower was built it began to sink!! Nowadays the top is leaning 5 feet further than the bottom!
Temple Church has had little luck. During the Bristol Blitz of World War II it was bombed and gutted. So you can no longer go safely inside. But an interesting landmark all the same. And there is an information board at the foot of the tower.
Very close by is the wonderfull Shakespeare Pub, dating from 1636, a remnant of Temple Meads' historical past.
LOCATION: Between Bristol Temple Meads Station and the old city centre, behind the Shakespeare Pub on Victoria Street
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Artists' "Front Room" Events
Bristol is slowly developing a reputation for quirky, underground art. For example, there are a small number of groups who unnofficially occupy empty buildings and turn them into art galleries. In addition, a number of artist communities hold annual events to open their homes and studios to the public.
For example, Totterdown (a colourful hilltop community near Bristol Temple Meads station) has held a weekend "Front Room" event every November since 2001. Over 40 houses, pubs and churches host art exhibitions in this small area. You can walk around the small terrraced houses, though lounges, kitchens and sometimes bedrooms too! In 2006 an artist, Gerry King, claimed to have the smallest gallery in the world, the 306 Gallery @ M673 OMO. This was in fact the registration of his car, a Peuguot 306!
Also in November a similar event is held in North Bristol.
- Arts and Culture
Bristol Zoo Gradens is a great day out for kids and adults alike.
As well as a huge monkey island and large gorilla enclosure, Bristol Zoo has walk through bat houses, reptiles, aquariums, nocturnal enclosures and much more.
Sadly there are no giraffes or elephants here any more but there's plenty more to keep you occupied.
There is a large picnic area in the centre of the gardens to take a break and an adventure playground close by to wear out the kids.
Visitors are welcome to take their own food and drinks in but there are cafes, shops and burger bars dotted around the complex which are not that expensive.
First American Consulate
For visitors from the United States, it will be interesting to know that the first ever American Consulate in the UK was opened in Bristol, in 1792. The original building has been replaced, but there is a plaque on the wall marking the location. It is one of the stops on Bristol's historical walking tours, as evidenced by the large crowd in the photo here!
Look for the large Georgian style house on the south side of Queen Square (which is a pleasant, tranquil green space worth a visit in itself).
- Historical Travel
The limestone landscape includes an open windswept plateau, wooded combes, steeply cut gorges and flower rich valleys.
The Mendip Hills covering 198 sq kms is recognised as one of England's most attractive landscapes.
Lay by providing views of the coast and on the West Mendip Way.
Burrington Ham/Black Down/Roberrow Black Down trig point is the highest point on Mendip offering terrific views across to Wales. Significant wildlife and archaeology. Excellent for walking ,cycling and horse riding.
Chew Valley Lake
Lake side area with visitor centre, tearoom, nature trail, toilets:
Distinctive peak. Open grassland site with areas of gorse and scrub. West Mendip Way passes over the peak.
Open access site with fantastic views over the Somerset Levels. Excellent for walks, picnics, flying kites.
Stockhill and Priddy Mineries Reserve
Forest plantation with easy going trail. Priddy Mineries offers walks over old lead workings.
Velvet Bottom Reserve
Nature reserve part of Charterhouse lead workings complex of sites. Rough grassland with small areas of scrub. Reserve links to Black Rock and Longwood Reserves.
An old lead mining area steeped in history, rough grassland, heath, wetland and woodland. Industrial archaeology visible. Netherwood a small woodland on the reserve has an easy going trail.
Village green at centre of ancient settlement of Priddy. Two village pubs. Hurdle stack on the green is a symbol of the ancient wool trade and annual Priddy sheep fair that takes place second Wednesday in August.
Ancient woodland with ground flora. Access to Wavering Down and Crooks Peak.
Iron age hillfort of great interest for its grassland, limestone heath vegetation and ancient field systems.
Black Rock Reserve
Coppiced woodland reserve including old quarry. Links to Velvet Bottom Reserve.
- Hiking and Walking
Stanton Drew ancient stone circles
There are three stone circles at Stanton Drew: the Great Circle being one of the largestin the country. Most of the stones have fallen, although a few still remain upright. They are thought to date from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age - ca. 3000 - 2000 BC.
It is thought that the stones represent the members of a wedding party and its musicians, lured by the devil to celebrate on the Sabbath and thus becoming petrified in their revels.
Stone circles are believed to have played an important part in contemporary social and religious life, and there is evidence that some were aligned with major events of the solar and lunar calendar.
Recent surveys have discovered that the Great Circle is itself contained within a very large buried enclsure ditch (ca. 135m diameter). This is about 7m wide and has a broad gap or entrance facing to the north-east. Such enclosures, or henges, are a well known feature of later Neolithic Britain and are assumed to be the foci of ritual activity. It seems probable that at least some of the pit circles at Stanton Drew once held massive posts. Other evdience suggests ritual pits.
The sites of these stone circles, although in the care of English Heritage, lie on private land. You are welcome to visit them during daylight hours on payment of an entrance fee of £1.
- Historical Travel
SNIFF THE COUNTRY AIR!
Bristol offers over 20 parks and open spaces for weary residents and tourists alike. For unrivalled views of the city and surrounding area, head for the ASHTON COURT ESTATE. Especially good if you have a bike and enjoy a fast cycle through woods and down long big hills. The estate is South West of Bristol and holds many events throughout the year including: The Bristol Community Festival, Kite Fiesta, Deer Feeding Walk, Bikefest and the Essential festival (to name a few). It is a great place for a Sunday walk.
BRANDON HILL is located in central Bristol (just go up Park St and turn off left - follow the sign posts)- this a wonderful oasis of green in the heart of the city and you will find Cabot Tower at the top for good views all around.
For other Parks and events go to the Tourist Information (next door to @Bristol) and pick up a 'Park Life' leaflet.
- Hiking and Walking
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