No visit to Bristol is complete without visiting the up market Clifton Village. Foodies will be delighted with the choice of restaurants catering for all budgets in Clifton Village and in the surrounding area stretching to Whiteladies Road. Once a small hamlet, Clifton with its beautiful Georgian streets, is now very much part of Bristol city and without doubt it is the place to see and be seen. Shopping here is a delight if a bit on the pricey side, with a plethora of chic boutiques, jewellery and art shops. If you are looking to buy something a bit out of the ordinary try the Clifton Arcade. You will be delighted with the choice of goods in this lovely Victorian shopping arcade, from books and music to antiques and fashion.
While you are in Clifton Village step through the archway adjacent to the entrance of the arcade (beside Primrose Café) to view Victoria Square with its beautiful Georgian houses facing a quiet park with benches. Why not bring your lunch, bought at one of Clifton’s delis and enjoy some peace and quiet here?
A short stroll away from Clifton Village is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, another icon attributed to Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Take a walk across the bridge to enjoy wonderful views of the Avon Gorge and then drop into the Visitor Centre at the Leigh Woods end of the bridge to learn about the construction of this famous landmark. Note: if you are planning to drive across there is a small toll to pay.
Back on the Clifton side of the bridge, a little further up on the left you will find the Clifton Observatory, Camera Obscura and Cave.
The Camera Obscura is still in working order and it is advisable to visit on a bright day to see the best panoramic image of the surrounding area including the Suspension Bridge and the Downs. Make your way down the small spiral staircase to Ghyston’s or Giant's Cave and step out onto the balcony on the cliff-face for an alternative perspective of the Suspension Bridge and the River Avon – if you do not have a head for heights or are claustrophobic you may want to give this one a miss!
By the side of the observatory is a rocky slope worn to a sheen over the years by intrepid fun lovers using it as a slide. I don’t recommend trying this as you can reach quite a speed.
From the bridge and the Observatory it is only a short distance to Bristol Zoo Gardens. Set within 12 acres of grounds the Zoo provides fun, adventure and education for all the family. It houses over 400 different types of animals from all over the world and is probably most famous for it’s family of gorillas.
Not far from the zoo, bordering Clifton and Redland is a massive area of protected parkland known as The Downs. This is a popular area for walkers and runners and is also used by local schools and clubs for team games such as football. The Downs also regularly play host to events such as circuses, funfairs and flower festivals.
Photographs by N. Hindmarch