Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge walk
Bristol's waterfront and historic centre, Clifton's grand houses and Suspension Bridge over the dramatic Avon Gorge.
|Start and Finish||Bristol Temple Meads|
|Length||7.0 miles (11.2 km). Allow 3 hours plus sightseeing.|
|Toughness||3 / 10. 500 feet (150 m) of ascent. All tarmac.|
|Map||OS Explorer 155 (Bristol and Bath) or 154 (Bristol West), but Google Maps / Openstreetmap on your phone / a city map (in Visit Bristol tourist pamphlets) is better|
This is a city walk through Bristol's historic centre to the wealthy hillside suburb of Clifton, which has a picturesque iconic suspension bridge across the dramatic River Aon gorge just off its village green.
Starting from the main station, pass St Mary Redcliffe Church (free), Queen Square (restored Georgian Square), the floating harbour (waterfront area), Spike Island (historic dockyard buildings, cranes and railway), M Shed (museum of Bristol life and history, free), The Matthew (museum ship replica, free), Arnolfini Gallery (free), Bordeux Quay (bars and restaurants), Millennium Square, We Are Curious (kids science museum, pay), Bristol Cathedral (free), College Green, Brandon Hill (hillside park), Cabot Tower (free), Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (free), RWA (Royal West of England Academy, pay), Clifton's grand houses and crescents, Clifton Village (independent shops and cafes), Clifton Suspension Bridge (free) and visitor centre (museum, free), street murals, the old town, St Nicholas (covered) Market. St Peter's Church (ruin), Castle park (riverside park with ruins).
The highlight of the walk is the iconic suspension bridge over the river Avon Gorge. Lots of photo opportunities off the bridge and gorge! Just over it is the recommended visitor centre / museum.
This is one of 2 Bristol walks, the other is around the harbour. You could combine them.
You could extend the walk (OS map or google maps required) north from Clifton, along the gorge rim to Clifton Downs.
You could spend time exploring the old town
Too many to choose from.
Trains from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads are 2 per hour, and take 1 hour 30 mins. £63 off peak.
Slower but cheaper trains from London Waterloo via Salisbury are hourly (a few direct, most change at Salisbury), and take 3 hours. £41 off-peak.
Consider Advance tickets. Beware of clashing with sports events (the Advance tickets will have sold out), especially on Saturdays. There are occasional special offers.
Bristol is in a Mon-Sat CPZ, so free parking outside the very centre on Sundays. Free parking anytime in the industrial area east of the station, or residential area (Totterdown) south of it (and the river), but on weekdays, commuters will have beaten you to it. Try Googling Bristol CPZ map. The SS Great Britain car park is good value at £5 for 5 hours (max).
Clifton is in a weekday CPZ. There are no car parks, pay and display street parking is 5 hours max, but over the suspension bridge is outside the CPZ
The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
The station to the bridge via the waterfront and Cabot Tower
- Exit Bristol Temple Meads by the main exit, down the roadway
- Cross the road, turn left (past the Holiday Inn), and left along Redcliffe Way.
- Pass the large St Mary Redcliffe church (free). Continue straight on at the roundabout.
- Cross the river into the Hole in the Wall pub
- Continue ahead down a pedestrian path to Queen Square. Walk along its south side.
- Detour left (Prince Street) and cross the bridge to the harbour and Spike Island, and turn right along the waterfront to M Shed (large museum free), disused cranes, the Dockyard Railway, The Matthew (replica museum ship, free). Return to this point.
- Continue ahead to a quay with many bars and cafes.
- Turn left to the waterfront for the Arnolfini gallery (free)
- Cross the pedestrian bridge, and continue ahead into Millennium Square, with We Are Curious museum (kids science museum, free), a large glitter ball, and a big screen TV.
- Turn right at the start of the square, uphill, crossing a road, then up again (Trinity Street) for College Green and the Cathedral.
- Continue, and veer left for Brandon Hill and Cabot Tower (free)
- Exit on the right hand side of the green, and go left, uphill, along College Road which becomes Park Road
- Look right by the bridge (over Frog Lane / Frogmore Street), there's a Banksy mural, "Well Hung Lover"
- Turn left on Gt George Street. Pass the Georgian House museum (free).
- Enter Brandon Park, head for, and climb the tower.
- From the tower entrance (at the back of the tower), go right, then second left to come out on Upper Byron Road. Cross diagonally Berkeley Square, and come out by the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (free), with a tower next to it (part of Brsitol University).
- Go up University Street (next to the museum), the left at the end on Woodland Road, for Royal Fort Gardens. Afterwards, retrace your steps.
- Head left, up Queens Road to the RWA building (Royal West of England Academy).
- Just before it go left on Richmond Hill, a residential road
- Go left (now back on Queens Road)
- Veer right, now on Clifton Road, and diagonally cross Victoria Square.
- Go down an ally, passing shops and the Clifton Arcade
- Come a shopping street. Go left, and immediately right onto Princess Victoria Street (more shops)
- Go right on The Mall (more shops)
- Come out on to a green
- Turn left, and in 100m, cross the suspension bridge to its visitor centre.
From the bridge to the station via the old town and Castle park
- Cross back over the bridge, and climb up to the viewpoint by the observatory for photos.
- For a longer walk, head north, along the rim, to the Downs
- Alternate route back to town. Longer, but with river and harbour views via a crescent. By the bridge go downhill on Sion Hill. Where a road veers of to your right, there is a path down to the river. Follow it (out and back) to The Lookout Lectern, a bridge viewpoint. Continue downhill on Sion Hill. Turn left on Royal York Crescent with harbour views. At the end turn left, uphill on Regent Street, then right on Boyce's Avenue (the alley), then continue as below.
- Retrace your steps to the Bristol Museum. That's down The Mall, left on Princess Victoria Street. Cross the road and down the Boyce's Avenue (the alley). Diagonally across the square. Right on Clifton Road / Queens Road. Right on Richmond Hill. Down Queens Road to the museum.
- Continue past the museum to the junction
- Veer left for the Red Lodge Museum (free)
- Veer right, downhill, along College Green.
- At the bottom, turn left, away from the river.
- Go right on Baldwin Street. This is what's left of the old town. Left, uphill on Marsh Street. St Stephan's Church is to your left. Continue on Clare Street, then Corn Street. At the bend, continue ahead (still Corn Street).
- Go left on Broad Street for the Everards Printworks (tiled exterior). At the end go right on Nelson Street. Look up for murals from the 2011 See No Evil street art festival.
- Go right (Broad St, then High St), passing St Nicholas Market (covered market, food stalls, independent traders).
- Follow the river through Castle Park, passing the remains of St Peter's Church and an S shaped bridge
- Keep following the river until you have to cross St Phillips bridge onto the opposite bank.
- Continue following the river
- Head inland by the next big bridge, inland, right on Temple Back, left on Temple Rose, to Temple Gardens for the ruined Knights Templar church.
- Follow the river, passing another S shaped bridge.
- Across the square is the Knights Templar pub, a Wetherspoons.
- Continue ahead for the station.