ressing the hills of the Avon Gorge in colourful Victorian terraces, symmetrical town-houses, and Regency railings, the vibrant city suburb of Clifton is an historic settlement that lies to the west of Bristol’s bustling centre. Lined with cafés, wine bars, and beautiful boutiques, this wealthy ward is one of the town’s most affluent areas – but we’ve selected five fundamentals for a 48-hour trip.
Set thousands of feet above, on the hills of the Avon Gorge, Clifton Suspension Bridge is, without doubt, one of the most defining features of the suburb. Completed in the late 19th century, this majestic Brunel-designed bridge, that links Clifton to Leigh Woods, has a pedestrian footpath overlooking the city and the surroundings of Somerset. Although there is a small toll charge for motor cycles and cars, you can breathe in the sights, smells, and sounds, on foot, bike or horse, for free.
Promising spectacular panorama, the White Lion Bar is a place you can rely on for views. Adjacent to the Suspension Bridge, this gastro pub is part of the Avon Gorge Hotel, and has one of the largest heated terraces in the South-West. With umbrellas and wooden benches in abundance, this local favourite, open throughout the year, can get quite busy during the summer season. But the wooden panelled interior, with large leather sofas, real ales, and gourmet pies, offers a warmer experience during the winter.
One of the oldest surviving Lido’s in the country, this 19th-century outdoor swimming pool, hidden away in the heart of the suburb, is open to the public all year round. Framed with pastel-coloured changing cabins and an award-winning poolside restaurant, the 24-metre heated pool paints a more authentic picture of Clifton. As well as a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room; a number of treatments are also available, such as the bamboo massage, and there is a tea room to relax in afterwards.
Peering down onto the Avon Gorge, Leigh Woods and the Severn Estuary, it is hard to believe that the populous parts of Clifton are only moments away. But the botanically-rich 400-acre expanse of Clifton Down depicts a very different side of the suburb. From the wild flowers of summer through to the golden palette of autumn, this public park is always a good idea. Bordering Durdham Down, Clifton Village and Redland, the limestoned grassland also encompasses an observatory, a rock-slide, and a railway tunnel, and is a Green Flag Award winning site.
Situated on Clifton Down, this Grade II listed building provides the perfect opportunity to home in on the horizon. Dating back to the 18th century, this former snuff mill also contains a Camera Obscura, that projects a true image of the Suspension Bridge, Leigh Woods and the Avon Gorge onto a table from a convex lens and sloping mirror above. Below the deep-rooted structure, a tunnel to St Vincent’s Cave also survives, and leads onto St Vincent’s Rocks on the cliff face.