Christmas is just around the corner, and although it will be quite different for all of us this year, there’s one festive tradition we’ll still be able to look forward to: the winter walk. There’s nothing quite like stepping out into the crisp, cold air to stretch your legs (especially after several days cooped up at home), and here in Bristol we’re lucky enough to have lots of lovely green spaces we can get out and about in. So if you’re looking for somewhere special for your winter walk, here are 5 of our favourites.
In the heart of Bristol, just beyond Totterdown, is the beautiful Arnos Vale Cemetery. Set among enchanting woodland, and with plenty of twisting paths and imposing architecture to explore, this little beauty spot is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city. The gates will be open from 9am to 4pm every day over the Christmas period, and the cafe and shop will be open for limited times if you want to linger a while.
Stoke Park is well known for its bright yellow stately home, the Dower House, which sits on a hilltop in north-east Bristol and is visible from the M32. The grand sweep of parkland up to the Dower House is well worth a wintertime visit, but there are also plenty of other places to explore on the Stoke Park Estate. The Bristol City Council website has maps of three circular walks around the grounds, taking in woodland, historical sights and interesting vistas.
The beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum, a short drive out of Bristol in the Cotswolds, will be open over the festive period, but in order to keep everyone safe guests are required to book in advance. There is plenty of opportunity here to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and discover trees from all over the world growing in Bristol’s backyard. If you want to make a day of it, the restaurant will be open for takeaway food, and you can also take the children into the woods to see if they can spot a Gruffalo!
For a winter walk a little closer to home, there’s Leigh Woods – a stunning nature reserve on the western outskirts of Bristol, near the Avon Gorge. There are walking trails to follow, taking in spectacular views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, plenty of woodland and wildlife to explore, and even a mountain biking trail! Leigh Woods really is a must-visit if you want to see some greenery without going too far from the city.
A 40-minute drive north of Bristol, on the River Severn, is the Slimbridge Wetland Centre, a haven for trees, wildlife and birds. Once again, it’s required to book in advance, but when you get there you can expect to see all sorts of wild birds wintering here, including geese, gulls, grebes and swans; the Centre also runs wild bird feeds at 4pm most days. As well as the birdwatching, this is a wonderful place for a relaxing, picturesque winter walk.
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Cover photo by Aldrich C on Unsplash.