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Bristol's open spaces you need to explore

Before I moved to Bristol I had spent the first 18 years of my life in the tiny village of Bodiam, relying on my parents to drive me everywhere I needed to go, and with the nearest form of nightlife being 11 miles away.

By Imogen Rogers, Deputy Living Editor

Before I moved to Bristol I had spent the first 18 years of my life in the tiny village of Bodiam, relying on my parents to drive me everywhere I needed to go, and with the nearest form of nightlife being 11 miles away. In Bristol everything - and more - was within walking distance and I loved being part of the city. However, with a lot of my uni life involving being in my bedroom or at the library, I began craving the peace and quiet of the countryside. Going for outside walks, runs or even just sitting on a bench, has, for me, always had a beneficial impact on my mental and physical health. Fortunately, Bristol is a city which embraces its open areas having been described as a city within a countryside by many. Over the years I have found many great outdoor places in Bristol allowing me not only to be alone with my thoughts from time to time, but giving me an insight into the history of Bristol.

St Andrews Park

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

This Victorian park was close to my first-year accommodation - Northwell House (yes, I know you haven’t heard of it) and is just a short walk from Gloucester Road. I stumbled across the park after getting lost on my home from the supermarket, and was impressed by its size and beauty, but also by the historical significance of the park within Bristol history. A memorial in the park records the 1941 event in which a WW2 Wellington bomber plane crashed into one of the trees, resulting in three deaths. Ironically, it was also the sight of an air-raid shelter, and the children’s paddling pool was used to supply water to nearby homes within the war. Many events and fundraisers take place in the park throughout the year.

University Royal Fort Gardens

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

Right in the centre of campus, the Royal Fort Gardens are a great starting place in which to explore Bristol’s open spaces. Beginning its life as a Civil War fortification, the gardens are well situated to be used as an outdoor study spot or lunch break area for students. They also boast a great collection of outdoor public art installations. Artworks include ‘Hollow’ by Katie Paterson, and the mirror maze ‘Follow me’ designed by Jeppe Hein. In the warmer weather, the gardens get quite busy, but they remain a peaceful place.

Brandon Hill

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Brandon Hill is a formal garden, nature reserve and the oldest park in Bristol, and an ideal place to escape the hustle of the nearby city centre. At its summit is the beautiful -and free- Cabot Tower, built to commemorate John Cabot’s voyage from Bristol to North America. After a painful – but rewarding - climb up the winding stone staircase, you can enjoy the beautiful 360 views of the city and beyond. I recommend that every Bristol student experiences it at least once.

The Harbourside

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

Further down the hill, you will reach the Harbour-side. Although not strictly a ‘green-space', the Harbour-side is a must-visit area for any Bristol student. Although alive with markets, restaurants, and sporting activities, the harbour-side provides a relaxing and visually pleasing walk, especially in the evening and during the Christmas period. Keep an eye out for events held in Millennium Square, for example they often hold free film screenings in the evening.

The Clifton and Durdham Downs

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

Familiar to members of student sport societies, and those living in Stoke Bishop, the Downs is a huge open space. Many events happen here, and in the summer, it becomes the favourite place for picnics and barbeques. It is also a great place to take a walk – or a run if you prefer- especially with the view of the Avon Gorge. I would recommend bringing some breadcrumbs or a ball of string as there are 440 acres available to discover, with similar looking paths, but is it really an adventure if you don’t get lost?

Redland Green

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

Redland green is ideally situated within the popular student residential area. This park has plenty of open space as well as a children’s play area if you fancy giving the zipwire or swings a try! If snow hits Bristol again, it also makes a fantastic place to go sledging! Every first Monday of May, the locals host the Redland May Fair here which is a great way to get involved with your local community, even as a student.

Leigh Woods

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The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a thing of a beauty and fame in-itself -and a staple on every freshers’ Instagram- but cross the bridge and go and explore Leigh Woods. If, like me, you enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside then the woods are a great place to forget that you are even in a city. They have a large selection foot and cycle paths, and a small coffee shop for a post walk hot chocolate. It can get quite muddy in the winter however so make sure you are not wearing your best trainers. The main attraction, by far, are the stunning views of the Avon Gorge and the surrounding city.

Epigram / Imogen Rogers

Featured image: Epigram / Imogen Rogers

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