It is 150 years since The Clifton and Durdham Downs (Bristol) Act, 1861 secured the Downs as a place of recreation for us all – forever. This trail and a second trail exploring the Promenade and Observatory Hill celebrate this anniversary and explore the rich and fascinating history of the Downs.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Start at the café on Stoke Road by the Water Tower in the centre of the Downs, but you can join at any point on the map.
(D/A) As you leave the café, turn sharp right along the worn joggers’ path for a few yards to the clump of three stones. Continue along the joggers’ path (or the tarmac path which is also a cycle route) running parallel to Stoke Road. Go past the two benches close together to the third bench facing north (B1 and B2 on the map). Cross the busy Stoke Road behind you with care and head for the right hand of the two benches by the rather haphazard circle of young ash trees.
(1) Turn left and continue south-west at right angles to the bench, crossing over the tarmac path and then passing through the avenue of trees to the bench just beyond the three ash trees. Continue south-west towards Sea Walls, the cliff edge, to the bench by the next tarmac path overlooking the Plateau.
(2) On to Sea Walls itself and the spectacular views up the Avon Gorge to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and down the river to the Bristol Channel and the Welsh hills. Take a seat to the left of the information panels. Please look at the information panels to your right. Then walk east, up river, along Sea Walls and continue as the path turns north-east along the edge of the Gully. 20 yards before the road bends sharply to the right, turn right just after the litter bin and go through the goat gate.
(3) Retrace your steps through the gate. Continue along the path to the Peregrine Watchpoint – your next chance of a view across the gorge. Soon after rounding the bend, you will cross from Durdham to Clifton Down and to your left and right, you may spot the mere stones marking the boundary. Note, also, the discreet fencing that steers the joggers away from bee orchids and other rarer plants.
Please look at the Peregrine Watch information panel before heading (north-east) across the grass at right angles to the road. Cross Ladies Mile carefully to the open area, where zoo visitors are permitted to park at certain times of the year, to the bench on the far left side. There is a small hawthorn behind it.
(4) Continue north-east towards the water tower to the middle of the precision-planted circle of five young ash trees. Turn sharp right and walk thirty metres to the joggers’ path and then continue north-east again. Soon you should be able to see the railway tunnel’s other ventilation tower below to your right. Stop briefly at the tarmac path. Continue north-east keeping the pitted ground of The Dumps to your right. Stop at the highest point by the bench backing onto The Dumps. One final stop: continue north-east in the direction of the wooden bus shelter, stopping well short of it at the bench by the path.(D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 315ft - Café
1 : mi 0.17 - alt. 312ft - Bench
2 : mi 0.73 - alt. 171ft - Sea Walls
3 : mi 1.33 - alt. 253ft - Gate
4 : mi 1.58 - alt. 285ft - Path
D/A : mi 2.22 - alt. 315ft - Café
It is all on the flat; some paths can be muddy and the grass can be wet.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Loos and don’ts :
The nearest toilets are by the Water Tower (disabled and baby-changing) and at Sea Walls, see map. Please do not park on the grass; no barbecues.
How to get there :
By bus : 1, 8, 41, 42, 54, 55, 99, 586, and 587 all run past the Downs.
By train : the nearest station is Clifton Down Station, 10 minutes walk away.
Go to www.bristol.gov.uk/page/ downs for further history and to download other trail leaflets on trees, birds, lichen and other subjects. For educational visits, events, guided tours, news and volunteering go to the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project’s site : www.avongorge.org.uk.
It is 150 years since The Clifton and Durdham Downs (Bristol) Act, 1861 secured the Downs as a place of recreation for us all – forever. This trail and a second trail exploring Durdham Down celebrate this anniversary and explore the rich and fascinating history of the Downs.
A moderate walk suitable for a family with older children but unsuitable for wheels. Takes you through quieter parts of the Blaise estate and Henbury gold course.
The gorge is at its deepest below Lover’s Leap. You can see massive cliffs of steeply tilted white Carboniferous Limestone. It is difficult to see exactly how the Gorge was formed. It would have been directly influenced by the most recent Ice Age up to 100,000 years ago.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin dates back to 1093, with various rebuilding over the years until an extensive refurbishment in 1878. Look out for two notable graves; an obelisk memorial to the Egyptologist Amelia Edwards and coloured head and foot stones of ‘Scipio Africanus’, a negro slave.
Built in 1795 for John Scandret Harford by William Paty. A solid, simple design placed on a rise so as to appear bigger. Harford was responsible for commissioning landscape architect Humphrey Repton and thereafter, architect John Nash who designed the Orangery, Dairy and nearby Blaise Hamlet. More ornate additions representing a Greek classical influence were made to both the exterior and interior of the house from 1832-3 by C R Cockerell on instruction from J S Harford Jnr.
Passing by Goram’s Chair, Tarn Lake, Beech Cathedral, Lily Pond, Rhododendron Walk, Rustic Lodge, Woodman’s Cottage.
Walk passing by Iron Age Hill Fort, Echo Gate, Arbutus walk, Kingsweston Down and wildflower meadows.
Contoured walk with a focus on 18th century historic features in semi-ancient woodland.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.