I went on a fascinating walking tour through Bristol and this is what it was like
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Despite living in Bristol for two years, I hadn’t realised how many parts of the city centre I had overlooked until I went on a walking tour.
From learning about Bristol’s street art and its artists to the architecture in Bristol and the history of the slave trade, Blackbeard to Banksy: the Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour is jam-packed with information about our city and presented in a fun format.
The tour started at the Bristol Cathedral, where I was mistaken as the guide by a couple also going on the walking tour. When the real guide arrived, he started a game of ‘who’s travelled the shortest and longest distance’ to kill some time until the missing people from our group of 28 arrived.
The game revealed the diversity of the group with people from Scotland, Australia, America, Siberia and Ecuador. The tour kicks off with some background on the Cathedral’s history as well as some background on the city council building and Bristol’s crest.
You may have wondered why there are so many unicorns around Bristol, for example. Legend says they only pay homage to men of virtue, a theme carried in the crest’s phrase “by virtue and industry”.
The walk continues along Frogmore Street where the guide gave us some background to the street art pieces we encountered such as Banksy’s famous Well Hung Lover and three different pieces by JPS, an artist from Weston-Super-Mare who implements real-life elements to his pieces. One piece highlighting child knife crime was purposely built on the same wall as a security camera.
We then encountered Bristol’s oldest pub, The Hatchet, before making our way through Orchard Street, former home to merchants who built their homes during the Georgian period, and making our way to Corn Street.
Here we encountered some reminiscences of the slave trade history: the face of an African man and two merchants can be seen above Caffe Moka on the corner of Clare Street and Baldwin Street.
Our next stop was Quay Street. Street Artist Inkie was paid £300,000 to complete the “See No Evil” event where he invited street artists from all over Europe to beautify Quay Street and turn it into a large live street art gallery.
Through St John’s Gateway, we encountered one of Bristol’s oldest structures and took a break so that we could go inside St John’s.
We then travelled through Leonard Lane, an ever-evolving street art gallery and home to some of Bristol’s smallest art pieces, before making a stop at Centre Space Gallery where we enjoyed the exhibition.
Back in Corn Street and St Nicholas Market, we learnt about the city’s merchant history and the origins of the phrase “pay on the nail” outside the Corn Exchange building. We were told about the stories of King Street before the tour concluded in Broad Quay.
Overall the walking tour was really interesting and our guide was full of passion throughout. We were lucky it did not rain during the tour, however, the website says the walking tour runs in all weathers.
The walk is also flat and accessible to wheelchair users and covers two miles in about two hours.
More information about Blackbeard to Banksy: the Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour can be found here.