Walk Distance: 5 km
Walk Duration: 1hr 20 (including view time!)
OS Map: OS Landranger 172 Bristol & Bath; OS Explorer 154 Bristol West & Portishead; Or any good Bristol street map will suffice.
Suitable for: pushchairs, babies in backpacks, little legs, scooters, all the family.
Walk features: great views, point of historic interest, playground, observatory, teashops, pubs, baby changing facilities (at Clifton Suspension Bridge);
The Downs and Bristol ‘s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge are a wonderful place to head to with a pushchair to for some great views, fresh air and to escape the hustle and bustle of this large city. The ultimate Bristol family walk for a lazy Sunday morning, there is plenty to do en route – from testing out your head for heights with dizzying views into the Avon Gorge, the Observatory, the playground or simply letting the little ones run free with a ball or a kite on the flat open grass of Durdham Downs. When you’ve had enough, retreat to Clifton Village for a wide range of pubs, cafes and shops or perhaps extend your visit with a trip to Bristol Zoo!
This walk starts at Isambard Kingdom Brunell’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, built in 1864 and a symbol of the city of Bristol. This walk is only a suggested route – once you are up on the Downs you can wander in any direction with little fear of losing your way. If you become disorientated just follow the road and signs for Clifton Suspension Bridge or Bristol Zoo and eventually you will come back to the start again!
From the pavement next to the road leading to the Clifton Suspension Bridge you will see a paved path leading directly uphill behind the bridge. Walk up this hill and you will pass a children’s playground on your right hand side, continuing on up towards the Observatory (worth a trip in its own right) and Clifton Down Camp – the site of an iron-age hill fort. On your left hand side you will see a sloping rock face with a very smooth worn line down its centre. This has been used by Bristol’s youth for many years as a natural slide (I have fond memories of whizzing down here as a child and I’m sure had many bruises to prove it) although it has been fenced off these days as slides made from solid rock are a bit of a health and safety liability!
Walk along the footpath, keeping to the left as it splits into two. Enjoy the spectacular views back onto Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol and the vertiginous drops over into the Avon Gorge as well as looking forward as the gorge and river open up as they leave Bristol behind. At the benches veer towards the right hand path – the left one involves a few steps.
Follow the footpath down a small slope and onto a wide paved footpath which in turn leads onto a shady avenue of trees running alongside the road. This is a great spot for little ones eager to practice their scooter or biking prowess – lovely, flat and wide and set back from the main road. Continue to the intersection with the main road at the end of the avenue.
Cross over the main road and continue to walk in the same direction uphill on Ladies Mile, keeping to the paved path to the left of the road. Follow the road here and don’t be tempted to explore the smaller paths into the woods if you have a pushchair – you will eventually have to double back when you get to some narrow steps.
Follow the footpath around to the left as it joins the Circular Road – the aptly named road running the circumference of the Downs. From here, walk along the roadside pavement as it snakes around the edge of the Downs to Sea Mills, overlooking the Avon Gorge and back onto the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Bristol. Some of the best views can be found just before the road curves round to the right and past the large houses of Sea Mills backing onto the Downs.
Once you have drunk your fill of these spectacular Bristol views, continue on the pavement round to the right and past the large houses and their gated drives on your left. At the road intersection with Ivywell Road, cross over the road onto the paved path opposite that leads away from the roadside and over the middle of the Downs. Bikes are not permitted on this footpath so toddlers can charge around here without fear of being flattened by enthusiastic cyclists! This is a great spot for picnicking getting out that frisbee or kite or just enjoying the wide open green space after the buzz of Bristol city centre.
On the far side of the path you will once again meet Ladies Mile road. Turn right and walk along Ladies Mile back down to the intersection with Bridge Valley Road. For animal enthusiasts looking to extend the outing, turn left here and you will shortly come to Bristol Zoo on the right hand side. Otherwise cross back over Bridge Valley Road and retrace your steps along the avenue of trees and back to the bridge. For those looking for a shorter route back to Clifton Village, instead of climbing back up to the right towards the Observatory and Clifton Camp, stay on the wide path to the left and it will lead you back to the village edge where you can relax with a hot drink in one of the many quirky and welcoming cafes.
Map of Route:
The Clifton Suspension Bridge and Downs Pushchair Walk in Bristol is incredibly easy to access by public transport. You can catch the number 8 bus from Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station to Clifton Village (no. 9 on the return leg) and Clifton Suspension Bridge is just a short walk away. Check Traveline South West for more information and bus stop maps.
For those driving to Bristol and the start of the walk, there is parking in Clifton Village although it can get quite busy and parking spaces can be tight. Try Caledonia Place or failing that you may have to tour the surrounding streets to find a spot.
View Clifton Suspension Bridge and Downs Pushchair Walk in a larger map
Rate this walk: