JUN 30,2016 - JUN 30,2016 (1 DAYS)
Start & End: Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Weather and Timing: Only sunny days. Cloudy (NOT rainy) days are acceptable. Expect vast crowds in the weekends along the floating harbour docks. Do not miss the Millennium Square. Bristol always means good vibes - but, reserve it for a sunny day, PLEASE. Duration: one busy day. Orientation: I fell in love with Bristol - although I picked a gloomy day. It is a very promising city. Good vibe and variety ! A great, FREE walk ! A long, busy, quite demanding day. Distance: 18 km.
Part/Tip 1: From Temple Meads to College Green.
Part/Tip 2: From Brandon Hill back to Temple Meads.
Tip 1 Main Attractions: St Mary Redcliffe Church, Floating Harbour, Queen Square, Thelka ship, Pero's Bridge, Anchor Square, Millennium Square, Millennium Promenade, Hannover Quay, SS Great Britain (view from Hannover Quay), College Green, Bristol City Hall, Bristol Cathedral, St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel.
Introduction and orientation: One of Britain's most popular tourist destinations. The Sunday Times named it as the best city in Britain in which to live in 2014 and 2017, and Bristol also won the EU's European Green Capital Award in 2015. A city of huge potential for growth, investments, attractions and long-run flourishing. Bristol's modern economy is built on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, Bristol extensive docks have been redeveloped as magnets for tourism and culture. It is located not far from thr border with Wales. It has an airport and two main railway stations: Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway mainline. Bristol is one of the warmest and sunniest cities in the UK. Rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Autumn and winter are the wetter seasons. BUT, winter frosts are frequent. Snow occasionally falls from November to April. Bristol is the 11th most populated city in the UK with, approximately, 430,000 inhabitants. The city has its own currency - the Bristol Pound. A typical example for spirit of independence and creativity. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damaged in the English Civil War - and very little remained from them.
Part 1- From Temple Meads to College Green:
We exit westward from Temple Meads station, turn right to Temple Gate. In the 1st cross-lights (Temple Circus) we turn LEFT (west) and the same with the 2nd cross-lights. Just follow the signs to "Harborside".
We follow the Redcliffe Way westward, when the Double Tree Hilton Hotel is on our left. 80 metres further west - you see the St Mary Redcliffe Church. St Mary Redcliffe is one of the largest churches in England, and some state that it is the largest of all. Built from the 12th to the 15th centuries - but, the major part of the mighty church dates from the late 13th and 14th centuries when it was built and decorated by wealthy merchants of the city whose tomb and monuments decorate the church interiors. The church is sited on the red cliffs, above the floating harbour, and was originally at the very centre of shipping and industry, which is the key to its history. The merchants of the Port of Bristol began and ended their voyages at the shrine of Our Lady of Redcliffe. The spire is also the third tallest among parish churches, and it is the tallest building in Bristol. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damage during the English Civil War, caused by Oliver Cromwell's men. Very little had remained of them - new glass being added, mainly, during the Victorian era. Gorgeous church. Allow 20-30 minutes for visiting this church. Open: MON - SAT: 08.30 - 17.00, During certain festivals, the Church is only open for worship:
This church has lovely, unusual exotic carvings on the outside walls:
Very calming and great variety of things to look inside. The Calmness derives from the thick walls. You cannot hear the 15 bells of the church if they ring outside ! The walls consist almost entirely of large stained glass windows, filling the interior with light.
The highly decorated vaulted ceiling in St Mary Redcliffe:
Nave roof with gilded bosses:
The lady Chapel:
William Canynges tomb 15th century:
St John’s Chapel, now known as The American Chapel holds the tomb and armour of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of Pennsylvania's founder. Look out for the giant whale-bone next to the chapel, a souvenir brought back to Bristol by John Cabot in 1497 following his expedition from Bristol to discover North America:
If you get the chance to hear some choir and organ music here, it is well worth it:
We leave St Mary Redcliffe Church and continue walking west along Redcliffe Way. Before crossing the Avon river over the Redcliffe Bascule Bridge we see this sculpture on our left:
After crossing Redcliffe Bascule Bridge with our face to the west - we see this custom house on our right:
and, next, this modern building on the right (west) bank of Avon river:
But, your main sight, at the moment, is the view of the Avon river entering the city from west to east, and, later, flowing from south to north:
Bristol's history as a trading port stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th-century, the city was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were also leaving Bristol to found new colonies in the New World. Bristol's history as part of the slave trade is well documented. In 1809, Bristol was transformed by the opening of the Floating Harbour to overcome the challenge of the second highest tidal range in the world. Over the next two centuries the harbour grew as a busy commercial port until it closed in 1975, and, has now, transformed into an amazing destination for leisure, business and residence. 80 acres of tidal river were impounded to allow visiting ships to remain afloat all the time.
The Floating Harbour near Redcliffe Way:
After crossing the Avon and the bridge we pass Welsh Way on our right and arrive to the Old City and to the Queen Square.The site on which the Square was built lay outside Bristol's old city walls and was known as the Town Marsh. The Square was planned in 1699 and building finished in 1727. It was named in honour of Queen Anne. The north side and much of the west were destroyed in the Bristol Riots of 1831 (after the House of Lords rejected the second Reform Bill, which aimed to get rid of some of the rotten boroughs and give Britain's fast growing industrial towns such as Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leeds, greater representation in the House of Commons) and rebuilt. In 1937 the Inner Circuit Road was driven diagonally across the Square but in 2000 it was removed and the open space restored.Many of the buildings now have listed building status. Coming from the east to the square - you see, first, this impressive building with sculptures:
The Square had been restored to a very high standard. The railings and forecourts of the surrounding buildings have been reinstated, and the central open space with its promenades and equestrian statue restored to their former grandeur. The restoration is recognized as a major success. In the centre of the Square is a statue of William III by John Michael Rysbrack, cast in 1733 and erected in 1736 to signify the city's loyalty (bad state). I've been in this square in June, when the Comedy Festival took place and the square's centre had been closed. It is rather a huge (the second largest in England, second to Bath) historic square with sculptures, beautiful Georgian buildings and huge chestnut and macadam trees:
We are stone's throw from the floating harbour. From the square we walk SOUTHWARD to Grove Avenue, turn RIGHT (west) to The Grove. On our left is the Mud Dock and, in the corner, the Thelka ship: a former cargo ship moored in the Mud Dock. The ship was built in Germany in 1958 and worked in the coastal trades. In 1983 the ship was bought to Bristol. It was used as a theatre, cabaret, comedy, plays, musicals, and poetry events. The ship also contained an art gallery. The ship has now been returned to its original working name of Thekla and is run as a night club:
We turn right (NORTH) and we reach a bridge (south to north) that connects with Prince Street (Prince Street Bridge). Here we have a views (better ones in a sunny day...) of the harbour's basins and piers:
Turn your head right to see the St Mary Redcliffe Church in the east:
We cross the bridge and walk a bit along Prince Street from SOUTH to NORTH. On our left is the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts. The listed building also houses a popular café bar (open ONLY from 19.00 or 20.00):
If you walk, a bit, more to the north promenade along the channel (parallel and west of Prince Street) - you'll see the famous V-Shed waterfront and bar, Canon's Road (one of the most famous bars in Bristol) - Bordeaux Quay:
On our right is the Grain House (right from the Narrow Quay), 14 Narrow Quay. The building includes a restaurant and YHA hostel. Beyond it the Pero's Bridge with its horn-shaped counterweights which connects west and east banks of the channel / promenade from south to north or, in other words, It links Queen Square (Farr's Lane) in the (more tranquil) Old City and the bustling entertainment area of the Millennium Square and Bristol Aquarium. The bridge was designed by the Irish artist Eilis O'Connell. The name reminds us, again, Bristol's link to slavery: the Bridge is named after Pero Jones, an enslaved African who came to live in Bristol. Pero Jones was bought by wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant, John Pinney, to work on his local plantations:
Before you step onto the Pero's Bridge - look to your left (west): the Bordeaux Quay:
... and to the east:
Walk along Pero's Bridge and we arrive to Anchor Square. Located right by the Waterfront its in a lovely location, and all the places surrounding the square are very modern and beautifully designed. The square is equipped with beautiful fountains and water displays. It is really just a nice place to go to especially when they've got some kind of entertainment going on or they are screening a live show or play in the giant plasma situated at the adjacent Millennium Square. On our right is the Bristol Aquarium:
Opposite is the the massive @ Bristol building (see below). On your left is the Pryzm Building:
We walk a bit further WEST to arrive to the stunning Millennium Square. A breathtaking square. A great big BBC screen for the sports-inclined and large water features, fountains and pools for the little ones.
Millennium Square is home to a BBC Big Screen and a large water feature:
A bronze statue of Bristol-born actor Cary Grant by sculptor Graham Ibbeson was unveiled by Grant's widow in 2001:
Other bronze sculptures include William Penn:
and poet Thomas Chatterton- all three by Lawrence Holofcener:
There are also a number of small painted bronze Jack Russell terrier dogs by Cathie Pilkington, some of which are set into the paved surface, as if they were swimming:
The Energy Tree, designed by artist John Packer provides free mobile phone charging points and Wi-Fi:
We continue WESTWARD along the Millennium Promenade -on our left are colored blocks of residence:
and Rainbow Casino. Crossing the Cathedral Way and Canon's Way along the Millennium Promenade, very nice paved path/bridge - on both our sides are nice blocks and pretty plantation:
The complex of buildings on your left form "The Crescent" of Bristol (see our blog on Bath):
The Millennium Promenade ends, in the west, in Hannover Quay viewing platform: a wooden bridge/path with stunning views of the port and Brunel's historic ss Great Britain (in the opposite bank). Here, in this point - you see the genius in constructing the floating port of Bristol: an artificial dockland area within the very urban confines of Bristol had been carved out of the landscape between 1804 and 1809. By the installation of cleverly-placed locks on the River Avon (and the cutting of a new channel that, to this day, allows the great waterway to skirt the centre of the city), the harbour helped Bristol to cement its place as arguably Britain's key port of the time (Liverpool was its main rival) – despite the fact that it sits some five miles inland from the Severn Estuary ! The Floating Harbour is one of the most thriving areas of the city, thanks to a multi-million-pound regeneration effort that, since the 1980s, has transformed Bristol harbour from a time-faded industrial zone into a major tourist attraction:
The SS Great Britain is the highlight of Bristol Harbour. You can see it, a bit from a distance, from Hannover Quay landing point. In 1970 the SS Great Britain returned to the original Great Western Dockyard where she had been built - on the opposite bank of Hannover Quay. You can cross the rive to the ship - by ferry:
We retrace our steps and walk the whole way from Hnnover Quay BACK to the Millennium Square. On our right wall paintings and graffitties:
We turn left onto Cathedral Walk, turn right (north-east) to Anchor Road. On our right is the Ibis Centre hotel (lavatories !). Around you can find several budget restaurants and eateries. I ate in the Slug and Lettuce - grilled salmon + king prawn risotto + drink: 11.67 GBP. We cross the premises of the Cathedral Choir Primary School (might be closed during specific hours along the mornings) (the school on our right, east) and we climb, heading to the Bristol Cathedral. We pass through a marvelous gate adjacent to the Central Library - arriving to the MAGNIFICENT College Square or College Green. College Green is surrounded by a number of historic and important public buildings, including the Council House, the Lord Mayor's Chapel, the Cathedral and the Abbey Gatehouse.
Rammohun Roy statue by Niranjan Sarkar’s statue was unveiled in 1997 in College Green or College Square near the Cathedral. Rajah Rammohun Roy (1772 - 1833), known as the 'Father of Modern India' is buried in Bristol, where he died suddenly in 1833. Rammohun Roy's far reaching influence in India was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. The Rajah is remembered in India particularly for founding the Brahmo-Samaj, the Hindu reform movement, and for his work in fighting for women’s rights, including an end to "sati", the practice of widow-burning:
Another statue is of Queen Victoria's which stands at the apex of the College Green:
You cannot miss, on your left (WEST) the grandiose Bristol City Hall built as crescent. It was designed in the 1930s but built after World War II. The architect was Vincent Harris. Nowadays, it is a great venue for conferences, meetings and events. We also have several rooms which are licensed for weddings and civil partnerships:
When we climbed to the College Green where our face to the north - the Bristol City Hall is on our left (east side of College Green) and the Bristol Cathedral is, immediately, on our right (south side of College Green hill).
Founded in 1140 and consecrated in 1148, Much of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century. In the 15th century the transept and central tower were added. The nave was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. In the 19th century a new nave was built by George Edmund Street partially using the original plans. The structure of the church was completed with the Pearson's towers in 1888. Little of the original stained glass remains with some being replaced in the Victorian era and most replaced after the Bristol Blitz in WW2.
Muslim pupils visiting the Cathedral:
Remarkable feature of Bristol Cathedral is the vaulting of its various medieval spaces. The work that was carried out under Abbot Knowle. The spectacular vaulting of the choir and tower(s) can be seen from the Cathedral's nave, with clustered columns and marble shafts:
Effigy of Sir Charles Vaughan (a Welsh landowner) in Bristol Cathedral:
South Transept - This carving of the Harrowing of Hell is one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon stonework in existence, and the most important object to survive from Bristol before the Norman Conquest. It proves that there was a place of worship on this site in ancient times. It dates from just before the Norman Conquest. The Harrowing is the term used to describe the newly risen Christ descending into hell, standing on the head of Satan, to assert his victory over the powers of evil, and to rescue Adam and Eve (representing all people) from imprisonment:
Berkeley Chapel - This chapel was originally a vestry and place of prayer for the souls of the Berkeley family. The Family are the only English family still in existence in England that can trace its ancestors from father to son back to Saxon times. English history has been lived out within these walls - and by this family. The Castle ( in the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire) is the oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it:
Berkeley Tombs (14th century Lords) - Memorial of Thomas B. Ferrers Berkeley (died 1321) and Lady Joan Ferrers (Died 1301):
Adjacent to the Berkeley Chapel are the Eastern Lady Chapel (photo below) and the Choir:
There are also marvelous stained-glass windows:
In the most northern end of College Green (just the opposite direction to the Bristol Cathedral) waits for you the St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel. The Chapel was built in year 1230, by Maurice de Gaunt, a cousin of Thomas, Lord Berkeley (see above), as the chapel to St Mark's Hospital. The Hospital, served by a number of clergy and lay brothers, served the city citizens. In 1541 Henry VIII emptied the complex, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the City fathers purchased the buildings and extensive lands from him. The Lord Mayor's Chapel is now the only building left. Nowadays, it is the only municipally-owned church in the UK. Open: WED - SUN:10.00 - 12.00, 13.00 - 16.00:
We head now to Brandon Hill. Move to Part/Tip 2 below.
Tip 2: From Brandon Hill back to Temple Meads:
Main Attractions: Brandon Hill, Cabot Tower, SS Great Britain ship, Porto Quay, Clifton Bridge, No. 1 Brunel Square, SS Great Britain, Wapping Wharf, Princes Wharf (M-Shed), Buthurst Basin, Temple Meads Railway Station.
We head to Brandon Hill from the College Green (distance: 800-900 metres of climb-up). With our back to St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel we turn right and start ascending the College Green Street up along the hill (there is a sign pointing to Brandon Hill). In the start of our ascent we see a wall painting on our right:
We turn left to Great George Street (where you can find Nando's restaurant). After 80 metres - you see, on your right the St. George Hall (a Georgian building):
In the end of Great George Street is the entrance to Brandon Hill Gardens and Park. There is a play park for children at the bottom level of the park. BUT, keep in mind much of the park is hilly terrain. The park is on a slope and overlooks Bristol City Centre. The whole hill park is very well kept, and full of wildlife. A very rewarding place.
We continue climbing up direct along the path, we slight right, then left, and we see a nice view of Bristol city:
Last level in Brandon Hill - before arriving to Cabot Tower. There are lots of squirrels around and as they are so used to people, you can get quite close to them:
After 20-30 minutes of climbing up we arrive to Cabot Tower in the top of Brandon Hill - opened in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's voyage from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497. There are 95 stairs to climb until arriving to the tower summit. Cabot Tower offers wonderful 360 degree views across Bristol. The panoramic views from the top of the tower are spectacular:
You can see, even, the SS Graet Britain in the Floating Harbour - from Cabot Tower:
We shall descend from the eastern slope of Brandon Hill,
connecting with York Place alley and, continuing down along Partition Street. In the beginning of Partition Street - you see a another wall-painting on the Three Tuns Pub:
We walk DOWN southward until the end of Partition Street. We continue soutward along Canon's Way. We turn right (west) where the sign of "Harbourside Walk" is standing and we face... the SS Great Britain ship with all its grandeur:
We are, actually, in the promenade of Porto Quay. We walk on wooden decks and, around us, nice blocks of residence and, beautifully manicured, gardening beds. We get nice views of the harbour from the zig-zg decks of Porto Quay:
We walk along the harbour decks from EAST to WEST. When we arrive to Hotwell Road we face the Brunel's SS Great Britain on our left (south) again:
View of the Great Western Dockyard from Hotwell Road. On our left is the Mardyke Wharf:
We walk approximately 800 metres along Hotwell Road until we arrive to the Dowry Square roundabout. We take the right (north) leg which climbs (steeply) to Hope Chapel Hill. Pass from the right side of Hope Chapel (these are the deep brown houses you saw from Cabot Tower summit):
Turn RIGHT (NORTH) to Granby Hil. It is a steep climb along Granby Hill and, then, turning left (west) to Wellington Terrace. It is only 1.2 km until we arrive to the Clifton Suspension Bridge. BUT, it is a tedious, hard climb. Only in Wellington Terrace, when White Lion Pub and Avon Gorge Hotel on our left - we can see, first, this grandiose bridge. When you end (at last) climbing Wellington Terrace, you slight a little to the left - arriving to the Clifton Bridge Visitors Centre (the opposite, north side of the road) - and that what you see:
Wellington Terrace houses before arriving to Clifton Bridge Visitors Centre:
Trafalgar House right to the Clifton Bridge Visitors Centre:
Clifton Bridge is spanning over the DEEP Avon Gorge and the River Avon, linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The bridge was designed by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by the genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and contributed to by Sarah Guppy. In 1831, an attempt to build Brunel's design was halted by the Bristol riots, and the revised version of his designs was built after his death and completed in 1864. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, never lived to see his creation finished in 1864. Brunel died aged only 53 in 1859, but the Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed as his memorial. Since opening in 1864, it has been a toll bridge; the income from which provides funds for its maintenance. It is an iconic landmark of Bristol city. The bridge is used as a symbol of Bristol on postcards, promotional materials, and informational web sites. It was also used as a backdrop to several films and television advertising and programmes. It has also been the venue for significant cultural events such as the first modern bungee jump in 1979, the last ever Concorde flight in 2003 and a handover of the Olympic Torch relay in 2012. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is well known as a suicide bridge.
The bridge is open and manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year.The Visitors Centre is open everyday 10.00 to 17.00 throughout the year. There are free guided tours on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to October at 15.00. Tours last 45 minutes to 1 hour, finishing at the Visitor Centre on the Leigh Woods (Somerset) side of the bridge. FREE (If you drive across the fee is £1, but a walk across is free):
The Clifton Suspension Bridge’s spectacular setting on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge has made and makes it the defining symbol of Bristol, drawing thousands of visitors a year just to stroll over it across for views of the ancient Avon Gorge, elegant Clifton and the magnificent city beyond:
Walk across the bridge and you stay BREATHLESS. Fantastic views. On a clear day you may get an heart attack. When the sun is out the view is stunning. What a grandiose beauty !!! The engineering and the history are as stunning as the views you capture:
During my visit only one of the walk ways (the southern one) was open.
Toilets are ONLY in the Clifton (east) side. The Leigh Woods (west) side has a visitors centre which is free and is full of interesting info and a short film runs also. For just visiting the bridge, allow an hour. But to do more you could need a half or even a whole day (walking down to the tunnel, cave or even descending down to the Avon river and gorge).
From the Observatory, in the beginning of the bridge, in the Clifton side - you get, even, more stunning views of the bridge itself:
... and of the Avon:
Clifton village is spread east to the bridge. Clifton itself is a nice little village too. You can pop into Clifton for lunch or a drink at one of the many lovely places to eat and drink.
It is time to return to our base. We descend the whole way back: Wellington Terrace-> Granby Hill-> Hope Chapel Hill->Hotwell Road. When we arrive (along Hotwell Road) to Clifton Vale (on our left. north) and Christina Terrace / Merchants Road (on our left, south) (cross-lights) - we turn to the left to Merchants Road. On our left is the Pump House. The building was constructed around 1870 by Thomas Howard to house a hydraulic pump that powered bridges and lock gates around the harbour. It was replaced by the current Hydraulic engine house in the 1880s and is now a public house and restaurant of well-reputed chef:
Walking further south along Merchants Road - we cross the Cumberland Basin over the Merchants Road Bridge:
View from the bridge to Merchants Navy Branch House. The Merchant Navy Association is a group of retired and serving men and women of the Merchant Navy:
We connect with the Bristol Floating Harbour - when the Nova Scotia Hotel Side Walk is on our right. We see the Underfall Yard - Boat Builders on our right:
We return to the city centre when our face to east and our back to the west. We can walk along the Mardyke Basin when the harbour is on our right OR along the Avon river, along the Cumberland Road (or the Chocolate Path). I preferred to do the more northern way, along the basins, passing through Bristol Marina and along the Gas Ferry Road.
You arrive, quickly, to the Brunel Square - where you hit, again, the SS Great Britain with a display of fruits boxes, loaded on the ship in the past. Here are the headquarters of the SS GB Trust. The interior design of the main spaces uses the SS Great Britain Trust’s corporate branding of red, white and grey:
From the No. 1 Brunel Square we continue eastward along the Museum Street. We arrive to the Wapping Wharf quarter - a new, vibrant and developing area in Bristol. The M-Shed is on our left and the Wapping Wharf facilities on our right:
Museum Street brings us, further east to the Princes Wharf and the M-Shed restaurant and bar:
M-Shed is also a municipal museum with striking exhibits on Bristol city, its history, past and its innovative present. Open: TUE-SUN: 10.00 - 17.00.
Closed Mondays except Bank Holiday Mondays and Mondays during Bristol school holidays:
800 metres further east and we arrive to the Buthurst Basin, crossing a bridge and arriving to the Redcliffe Way to see the St Mary Redcliffe Church and we face, opposite, the Mud Dock:
On our right is the Ostrich Inn and, opposite, the Thelka ship again:
It is 1.5 km walk east along Redcliffe Way, Temple Gate and the the Station Approach - until we return to the Temple Meads train station.