It’s English Tourism Week and what better way to celebrate than by visiting a few local gems in and around Bristol?
Making up 80% of the UK’s visitor economy, English tourism generates over £100 billion a year and supports more than 2.6 million jobs, many of them for school leavers and young people.
The Bristol area has a plethora of fantastic tourist attractions for all ages, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that some of the most interesting are outdoors and free to experience.
Here’s Bristol World’s pick of nine great local tourist spots to explore over the coming months.
And if we’ve missed out your favourite places, do let us know so we can share them with readers.
1. Troopers Hill, St George
Between St George and Kingswood, Troopers Hill is a hillside nature reserve overlooking the River Avon. As well as being known locally as one of the best places to watch the hot air balloons when it’s the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, it also has stunning views and two Grade II-listed chimneys from when the area was quarried and mined. Walk among the heather and rocky crags and you’ll think you’re anywhere other than Bristol. According to the excellent Friends of Troopers Hill, the Parliamentary army, under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, camped on Troopers Hill prior the siege of Bristol in 1645.
2. Stanton Drew stone circles
Not one for people relying on public transport, but if they have access to a car it’s definitely worth the 20-minute drive out of Bristol. The 26 surviving stone make up the third largest prehistoric stone circle in England - and no-one really knows what it was used for. The English Heritage site is well maintained and costs £1 to enter, just mind the cows grazing in the field. There’s also a great pub called The Druid’s Arms nearby for a drink afterwards. Also nearby are walks taking you along the River Chew to Chew Magna or Pensford. Just pray for good weather, as there’s no shelter on site.
3. Goldney Hall, Clifton
Built in the 18th-century, Grade II-listed Goldney House and gardens occupy a hilltop position in Clifton overlooking Bristol. Now halls of residence for Bristol University students, the gardens are opened to the public annually as well as for weddings and small group tours by request. The landscaped gardens are beautiful and include six follies, an orangery and a shell-lined grotto with fountains and rock pool. It’s the only grotto in Britain with a shell room and running water and the central chamber has life-size plaster of Paris lions and a statue of Neptune.
4. Maes Knoll hill fort
Iron age forts usually provide the best views - and Maes Knoll is no different. In fact, we’d go as far as saying it offers the best views of Bristol. Perched at the eastern end of the Dundry Down ridge, the ancient monument is 646ft above sea level and gives views not just of Bristol but also Bath, Chew Valley Lake and the Mendip Hills. It’s quite a climb up there, however. The easiest way is from East Dundry Road in Hartcliffe, the hardest is up a steep grass bank from Norton Malreward. It is believed that the site was built in around 250BC by a Celtic tribe ahead of the Roman invasion of Britain. In more recent times it was used by the Home Guard in the Second World War to spot enemy aircraft.