Campsites, hill walks and beaches are abundant, but if you’re in the market for a nice peaceful lake trip, you’ll also be well catered for. Below are six of the most beautiful, inviting lakes within easy reach of Bristol.
Henleaze Lake has been a landmark of the Bristol area for a century, mostly thanks to its wild swimming club. Created through the flooding of a limestone quarry in 1903, it was taken over by the club in 1919. Now, members can enjoy 165m (541ft) of swimming water, as well as fixed diving boards on the banks and even a sauna. Henleaze Lake is in the Eastfield district of Bristol, a 15-minutes drive or 30 minutes by bus from the centre.
A popular fly-fishing destination, Chew Valley Lake is a sizable reservoir surrounded by woodland and originally opened by the Queen herself, a mere four years after her coronation. The perimeter of the lake features two nature trails and several bird-watching hides – more than 200 different species can be seen there. Chew Valley is near Bishop Sutton, 30 minutes south of Bristol by car.
The Litton Reservoirs were built around 170 years ago to bring water from the Mendip Hills down into the Bristol area. Made up of one smaller upper lake and a larger, deeper lower one, the site is girdled by a public footpath which is alive with wildflowers in the spring and summer months, while the lake itself is popular with birdwatchers and anglers alike. The reservoirs are just outside Litton, a village 40 minutes south of Bristol.
Another manmade lake, Blagdon Lake was formed when the River Yeo was dammed in 1905. At 440 acres (178 hectares), it’s massive, with several areas of visitor-friendly woodland dotted around the fringes, some of which hosts populations of badgers and roe deer. There is also a visitor centre which houses two historical steam-driven pumps, one of which still works. Blagdon Lake is 35 minutes southwest of Bristol by car.
Relatively small compared to some of the other lakes on this list, Hunstrete is only five acres (2 hectares), but sits in the midst of the Lord’s Wood, which stretches out into the Chew Valley. It is a popular habitat for water birds and, at the right time of year, you can even spot bats. Hunstrete Lake is 30 minutes south of Bristol by car.
It might sound like a tangle of waterslides and wave pools, but Cotswold Water Park is actually a collection of small marlstone lakes. There are 147 lakes in the system and many of them are suitable for sailing, swimming, fishing and other activities, so take a picnic and make a day of it. Cotswold Water Park is an hour northeast of Bristol by car.