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.
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 Sion Hill at the look-out point above the Avon Gorge Hotel, but you can join at any point on the map.
(D) Start at Sion Hill look-out point above the Avon Gorge Hotel; take a seat looking up the hill. Walk on up the hill following the tarmac path that curves left and then right below the bridge’s abutment. Very carefully cross Suspension Bridge Road by the speed restriction signs and take the steep tarmac path winding up Observatory Hill, stopping very soon at the first bench.
(1) Walk on up the hill always keeping to the path at the edge of the gorge. Continue past the Observatory and take a seat at the first bench 20 metres after you have enjoyed the information panel ‘Having a wild time’. You have four ‘chapters’ here; do also wander and marvel at the spectacular landscape around you. Walk on along the path and descend through the hill fort’s ramparts to the Promenade avenue. Continue to the far end of the avenue, cross over very carefully by the bus stop and take a seat on the bench near the point of the Triangle close to the gothic fountain.
(2) Follow the pavement to your right along the grandest sequence of semi-detached houses in England. After the first four gloriously various houses turn right past the Mansion House and cross the road above the point of the Triangle opposite the Merchant Venturers’ Hall, rejoining the avenue’s broad path. At the top of the avenue, bear left this time around the hill until you see the playground and the bench beside it.(A)
D : km 0 - alt. 72m - Sion Hill
1 : km 0.48 - alt. 60m - Hill
2 : km 1.85 - alt. 96m - Pavement
A : km 2.31 - alt. 85m - Sion Hill
How to get there :
By bus : 8, 9, 586 and 587
By train : the nearest station is Clifton Down Station, 15 minutes walk away.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The obelisk and the sarcophagus before you were originally in the rear garden of the Manilla Hall, the subject of this engraving whose viewpoint was almost identical to yours. In 1883, soon after the house was demolished and replaced by Manilla Road, these monuments were re-erected here.
Go to www.bristol.gov.uk/page/downs 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 the Promenade and Observatory Hill 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.