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Out and About In Bristol

Arnos Court Triumphal Arch Junction Road, Brislington, Bristol
Constructed from Bath stone, this Gothic arch was built in around 1760 for William Reeve,a wealthy Quaker and businessman. The architect, James Bridges, was also responsible for the new Bristol Bridge. Originally at the entrance to the Arnos Castle (now the Black Castle Public House),the arch was moved 100 meters to its present position in 1912.The two buildings are now separated by a major road junction.
Location Map
The Matthew of Bristol Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol
The Matthew, on the same site as the ss Great Britain, is a replica of the square-rigged sailing ship in which John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497.Built in 1997 by Bristol shipwrights to celebrate the 500th anniversary. Visitors to ss Great Britain can also go aboard this ship when it is in harbour. The Matthew offers harbour cruises and sailing experiences. Admission includes entry to the ss Great Britain, Dockyard Museum and The Matthew (when in Bristol). Tickets allow free visits for 12 months from issue.
Tel: Trips: 0117 927 6868 Info:0117 926 0680 Open: Daily, Apr-Oct: 10:00-18:00 (last entry 17:00);Nov-Mar 10:00-16:30 (last entry 15:00)  Closed 17, 25 & 26 Dec. Admission Charge Location Map
The Shot Tower Cheese Lane, Bristol Harbourside, Bristol BS2 0JJ
A feature of the city skyline, the Shot Tower was built to replace the very first shot tower in Redcliffe Way, Bristol.Willam Watts, a Bristol plumber, invented a system of producing perfectly round lead shot for shotguns in the 18th century. Molton lead was dropped through a copper sieve high up in a tower. As the lead fell into water it solidified and formed into balls. When the original tower was demolished for road widening in 1968 it was replaced by this 140 ft reinforced \r\nconcrete tower. A listed building, the Shot Tower now forms part of an office complex known as Vertigo.
Location Map
Peros Bridge, Bristol
A stunning new footbridge spans St Augustines Reach to link Queens Square with Millenium Square. Designed by Ove Arup & Partners, the bascule bridge comprises two fixed spans and a central 11m lifting span. This leaves a 9m wide channel for navigation.  The striking horn-shaped counterbalances were designed by the Irish artist Eilis OConnell.  \r\nOpened in 1999, the pedestrian bridge was named after Pero, an enslaved African-Caribbean man who lived from around 1753 to 1798. Pero, from the Caribbean island of Nevis, was the personal servant of John Pinney, a wealthy West India\r\nmerchant.
Location Map
Millenium Square, Bristol
This recently created open space is a welcome respite for pedestrians in this bustling area of the city.Part of the rejuvination of Bristol Harbourside, Miillenium Square is also the location of @Bristol.Dominating the square is the huge silver globe of @ The square also boasts fountains, water features, sculptures and statues commemorating notable Bristolians including William Tynsdale (who translated the New Testament) the poet Thomas Chatterton, and the film actor Cary Grant.
Location Map
Bristol Bridge, Bristol
Spanning the Floating Harbour is a Grade II listed Georgian bridge. Built in 1763 - 68, to the designs of James Bridges, this toll bridge replaced the original medieval wooden bridge  This was wooden and lined with houses, some five stories high and overhanging the river. In 1793, bitter resentment over the tolls lead to the Bristol Bridge Riot. This was one of the worst riots of the 18th century with eleven people killed and many injured.
Location Map
Brandon Hill Park Great George Street (off Park Street), Bristol BS1 5RR
Brandon Hill Park, set between the city centre, Clifton and Hotwells, is one the few city centre parks set 260 ft above Bristol Harbourside, offers wonderful views over the city \r\nand the Avon Valley. It was given to the city corporation by the Earl of Gloucester in 1174. For centuries the hill was sublet to farmers but since 1625 it has been a public open space. Crowning the steep hill is Cabot Tower, 1897, commemorating the 400th anniversay of John Cabots voyage to Newfoundland in 1497. Climb a spiral staircase inside the tower to the viewing platforms. In one corner of the park is a nature conservation area, the first of its kind to in Britain, a haven for wildlife with a pond, wildflower meadow and butterfly garden. Water gardens, ornamental gardens, picnic areas and play area.  Lots of squirrels on the Hill and visitors can feed them unsalted nuts.
Tel: 0117 922 3719 Open: Daily 08:00 am to dusk Location Map
Castle Park Broadmead, Bristol
Castle Park lies beside the Broadmead/Cabot Circus shopping centres and Bristol Harbourside. The park was the site of a Norman castle-destroyed after the Civil War by Act of Parliament of 1650. Markers identify the remaining features of the keep and curtain wall. One of Bristols newest parks, it was laid out in the 1970s on a part of the city centre destroyed by bombing in World War II. In the park are the ruined shells of St Peter and St Mary le Port churches. The gutted tower of St Mary le Port stands at the edge of Castle Park. St Peters church has been retained as a war memorial with a garden with lime trees and water features. There are peaceful places to sit or walk beside the city harbour. The park has works of art including creative seats and a carved stone throne. Castle playground for children.
Tel: 0117 922 3719 Location Map
Clifton Observatory Litfield Place, Clifton Down(near Clifton Suspension Bridge), Bristol BS8 3LT
The Clifton Observatory stands 338 ft above the River Avon overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Erected in 1766, it was a windmill for corn but later used to grind snuff and became known as the Snuff Mill. In 1777 the mill machinery was destroyed by a fire during a gale. The building lay derelict until the artist William West rented the Snuff Mill as a studio. He installed telescopes and a camera obscura in 1828.

Still working today, the camera obscura is a box on top of the building with a convex lens and a rotating mirror. Light is reflected down onto a table giving a true (not mirror) image. Best results are achieved on bright days. Visitors can see images of the surrounding area, including the Downs and Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Also on the site is St Vincents Cave or the Giants Cave. William West cut an underground passage to the cave, 250 ft above the valley floor, which opens onto St Vincents Rocks, a viewing platform above the Avon Gorge.


Open: Summer: Mon-Fri: 11:30-17:00  Sat-Sun; 10:30-17:00  Winter: 12:00-16:00 Admission Charge Location Map
Queen Square, Bristol
Queen Square is one of the largest Georgian residential squares in Europe. Completed in 1727, the square is in the heart of Bristol, just south of the shopping centre and near the redeveloped Bristol Harbourside. Probably the first landscaped square outside of London and named after Queen Anne. A statue of William III by the Flemish sculptor, John Michael Rysbrack, was erected in 1736. Much of the west side was destroyed in the Bristol Riots of 1831 but rebuilt. The north side includes the Customs House (1835 - 37), designed by Sydney Smirke.  \r\nIn 1936 the unity of the square was destroyed when Redcliffe Way was driven diagonally across it. Heavy traffic meant that the square was noisy and polluted and became rundown. The Redcliffe Way was closed in 1993 and 5 years later the square was restored, including the central grassed area and creation of pathways.  \r\nToday the square is a popular location for businesses and its park provides a recreational area for office workers.  Hosts outdoor theatre, concerts and other events.
Location Map
Blaise Castle Estate Kingsweston Road, Lawrence Weston, Bristol BS10
Blaise Castle Estate,five miles from the city centre, includes Blaise Castle, an 18th century country house now a Museum and Art Gallery ( see Museums ). Surrounding the mansion are 400 acres of parkland, laid out during the construction of the house by the leading landscape designer, Humphrey Repton. The extentive grounds offer numerous walks and there is also a adventure playground for children.  On a hill overlooking Bristol, the Avon Gorge and Avonmouth is a sham castle dating from 1766. Other features include Gorams Chair, a limestone outcrop often used by rock climbers, and Lovers Leap, a panoramic viewing spot.
Tel: 0117 903 9818 Open: All year: 8.00am - dusk Free admission ( except events). Location Map
The Bristol Downs Stoke Road, Bristol
A 400 acre public park, to the north of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. A wide grassy area edged with mature woodland, the extensive area of limestone downland has two adjacent green spaces: Durdham Down to the north-east and Clifton Down to the south-west, originally the commons of the manors of Henbury and Clifton. For hundreds of years Clifton Down was protected from development by the Society of Merchant Venturers (a business guild in Bristol).In 1861 by Act of Parliament Clifton Downs was given to the public, while Durdham Down was purchased from the Lords of the Manor of Henbury.
Over the centuries the Downs were used as rough grazing for sheep, lead mining and stone quarrying and once they were the haunt of highwaymen. In the 19th century it was a venue for sports including horse-racing, boxing and wrestling contests and cricket matches.  Sport is still important with local football leagues having pitches here. Views of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge from the south-west corner of Clifton Down.  The Clifton Observatory is located here, a stone tower with a camera obscura.  Near the Observatory is a rock face that has been used as a slide for generations of Bristolians and is now a popular attraction. Beneath the Downs is the Clifton Down Tunnel carrying the railway line from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach.  Two ventilation shafts for the railway can be seen.
Tel: Park Manager: 0117 922 3719 Location Map
Ashton Court Estate Long Ashton, Bristol
Ashton Court, two miles from the centre of Bristol, was once the home of the Symth family. Since 1959 it has been owned by Bristol City Council and its park is now a recreational area. 850 acres of woodlands and meadows, landscaped by Humphrey Repton.  For over 600 years there has been a deer park at Ashton Court and herds of deer still graze here.  On the higher ground are 2 18-hole pitch and putt golf courses with views over Bristol. Trails for orienteering, horse-riding and cycling and open spaces for picnics. 
The Avon Cycle Way runs through the estate.  A miniature railway operates here on selected weekends of the year. Many events are staged at Ashton Court including the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, the largest Balloon fiesta in Europe and one of the largest outdoor events in the UK. 
The mansion, dating from the 15th century, has a south facade added in around 1633 and extended in the 19th century. Open for guided tours on selected weekends only. Around the mansion are gardens including a ha-ha, rose gardens and Giant Sequoias.  A visitor centre in the stable block has lots of information on the history of the estate and provides an Ashton Court Discovery Pack, trail maps and event details. Cafe. Main entrance is off A369 Portishead Road at Kennel Lodge Road.
Tel: 0117 963 9174 Open: Daily 08:00-dusk Free admission (excluding some events) Location Map
Christmas Steps, Bristol
Christmas Steps, a short but steep thoroughfare in the city centre, is a great place to browse. In medieval times the narrow street was a muddy incline down which barrels were rolled to be loaded on to ships on the River Frome.  The river originally lay at the bottom of the slope but this has long since covered by a road.  In 1669 Jonathan Blackwell, a local wine-merchant, paid to have steps constructed down the steep street.  Today Christmas Steps is home to a wonderful mixture of specialist shops, galleries and cafes.
Location Map
Severn Bridges Visitor Centre Shaft Road, off Green Lane, Severn Beach, Bristol BS35 4HW
The Visitor Centre, run by the Severn Bridges Trust, is near the east end of the Second Severn Crossing at Severn Beach. Interactive displays, pictures, video films and models show the history of crossing the Severn Estuary from the Iron Age to today. Highlights the skill and ingenuity required to create the two Severn crossings. Short walk to Binn Wall where there is a superb view of both Severn bridges.
Tel: 01454 633511 Open: Easter-late Autumn Tue-Sun: 11:00-16:00 Location Map
Second Severn Crossing (M4), Bristol
The Second Severn Crossing is downstream of the Severn Bridge, close to the route of the Severn Tunnel (built in 1874-86) and the ferry crossing used by the Romans. Its English end lies in Severn Beach and its Welsh end in Monmouthshire.  Work began on the gently S-shaped crossing in 1992 and was completed in 1996.  At just over 3 miles (5km) wide, the crossing marks the lower end of the River Severn and the official start of the Severn Estuary. A single cable-stayed span, with a number of approach viaducts on either side.  Known as the Shoots Bridge, the 1,496 ft central span allows vessels to navigate the deep water shipping channel of the Severn Estuary.  To reduce winds high baffles have been built on each side of the crossing. New roads on both sides were built to join the Second Severn Crossing to the M4 motorway.  There is also a link to the M5 at Avonmouth.  Tolls are collected on the Welsh side (near Rogiet) from vehicles travelling from England only. 
Admission Charge Location Map
Severn Suspension Bridge (M48), Bristol
The Severn Bridge was built to replace the ferry between Aust Cliff and Beachley Peninsular (8 miles upstream ).

Opened in 1966, the elegant suspension bridge is 5240 ft (1597m) long ,with a main span of 3,240 ft (988m) and 1000 ft side spans. Its two towers, based on hollow rectangles, stand 445 ft (136m) above mean high water level. The bridge is two bridges, the main section over the Severn Estuary and the second cable-stayed section bridging the River Wye.

The bridge provided a direct link for the M4 motorway into Wales. By 1990 traffic levels had increased with congestion at peak and occasional high winds, accidents and breakdowns added to the difficulties.

It was decided to build a second Severn crossing 5 km downstream. The Second Severn Crossing now carries the M4 and the motorway across the Severn Bridge has been renamed the M48.

Tolls are collected but it is free for motorcycles, cycles and pedestrians. The charges are collected from vehicles travelling westwards from England to Wales.


Admission Charge Location Map
Clifton Suspension Bridge Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, Bridgemasters Office, Leigh Woods, Bristol BS8 3PA
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a most famous landmark. Stretching 702 ft across the beautiful Avon Gorge, it links Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset.

The history dates back to 1754 when a Bristol wine merchant left a legacy to enable a bridge to be built across the gorge In 1830, after two competitions were held, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was declared the winner and appointed project manager Work began on the bridge in 1836 but was beset with difficulties and was abandoned in 1845 with only the towers completed. Following Brunels death in 1859,at the age of 53, it was decided that the Clifton Suspension Bridge should be completed in his memory.

In 1860, when Brunels Hungerford Bridge over the Thames was demolished to make way for a new railway bridge, the wrought-iron chains were purchased for the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Work restarted in 1862 and it opened in 1864.

Clifton Suspension Bridge is the symbol of Bristol. At night the bridge is illuminated. From the bridge there are views of Clifton and the Avon Gorge. Vehicles crossing it are charged a toll - free for pedestrians and cyclists.

On the Leigh Woods side is a small Visitor Centre with information on the history, construction and maintainance of the bridge. Free guided tours are operated by volunteers on Sundays in the summer.

 
Tel: Guided tours: 0117 9744664 Open: Visitor Centre 10:00-17:00 Location Map
Avonmouth Bridge, Bristol
Opened in 1974, the Avonmouth Bridge carries the M5 motorway over the River Avon near Bristol. The cantilever bridge is 4,554 ft (1,388 m) long, with a main span of 538 ft (164m).  The steeply sloping bridge was designed to allow tall ships to pass underneath.  Because of its sharp angle lorries and heavy vehicles slow down, causing bottlenecks at peak times and in the summer.  Following improvements in the early 2000s the Bridge now has 8 lanes of road traffic, plus a separate lane for foot passengers, bicycles and mopeds. 
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