Clifton Suspension Bridge Walk
This circular walk explores the area around the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge. The bridge links the Bristol suburb of Clifton with Leigh Woods. The Grade I listed structure opened in 1864 and is based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The walk starts from the Clifton observatory on Clifton Down. The observatory is a great place to start the walk as it includes a viewing platform overlooking the bridge and the City of Bristol. There's also a museum and a Camera Obscura which is now one of the only three in the UK. You can follow a tunnel from the Observatory to St Vincent's Cave, which opens onto St Vincent's Rocks on the cliff face, 250 feet (76 m) above the floor of the Avon gorge.
From the observatory you can pick up the Bristol Triangular City Walk and follow the waymarked trail up onto the bridge which is located a short distance to the south. Walk across the bridge and you can then pick up the River Avon Trail on the other side and follow it north along the river. You can then pick up trails through Leigh Woods where you'll find oak, small leaf lime and ash forest with carpets of bluebells in the springtime. It's a lovely area with sculputre trails, ponds and lots of woodland birds to look out for.
After exploring the woods the route crosses back over the bridge and returns to the observatory. Here you can enjoy post walk refreshments at the on the 360 cafe. There's a good menu and outdoor seating with fine views to the bridge to enjoy with your meal.
To continue your walking from the bridge head a short distance north on the Clifton side to visit The Downs. There's meadows, wildflowers, excellent birdwatching opportunites and fine views back down to the bridge.
Clifton Suspension Bridge Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Clifton Suspension Bridge Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Clifton Suspension Bridge OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Clifton Suspension Bridge Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
The on site 360 cafe is a good option but if you prefer a pub lunch head into nearby Abbots Leigh to visit The George. The historic pub dates back to 1719 and includes a particularly lovely walled garden area for warmer days. Inside there are cosy fires for the winter months. They have a great menu and can be found on Manor Road at postcode BS8 3RP for your sat navs.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
On the western side of the river you'll find the little village of Abbots Leigh and the lovely Abbots Pool. This hidden gem includes a nature reserve with a medieval pool and woodland trails. There's also lots of flora and fauna with wild flowers, ferns and rhododendrons to see on your visit.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Somerset Walks page.