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Backpacking in Bristol and Beyond

“Stop and smell the roses” is one of those old adages that you’ve probably heard countless times. Thing is, most of us aren’t able to follow that advice on any given day. We’re either commuting to school, work, the gym, the store – we’re constantly on the move. 

Maybe we need to spend some time backpacking. Backpacking combines hiking, camping, and nature walking into one activity. You load up your essential supplies, choose a destination, then go for a walk in nature’s beauty. 

The more scenic the area, the better your trip will be. Bristol is full of gorgeous venues and lush landscapes. We’ll show you how to go backpacking through Bristol. But first, drop extra items at a luggage storage service to travel light so as to not be slowed down.

“Banksy Trails”

Banksy is a street artist who hardly needs an introduction. His works have made international headlines countless times, even earning a well-deserved mention from the likes of Stephen Colbert. As far as contemporary artists go, Banksy is one of the most famous.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Banksy? That’s understandable, this artist is a very secretive fellow. However, you’ve likely seen his work. ‘Girl with Balloon”, “Escaping Prisoner”, and “Migrant Child” are some of his most iconic pieces.

Banksy has left his mark everywhere from New York to Venice. But several of his most famous pieces are located in Bristol. We recommend backpacking along a “Banksy Trail” at least once or twice during your trip.

We say, “a Banksy Trail” because there are numerous routes that you can follow. Just like Banksy, these trails break away from convention.

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Berkeley Castle

Outsiders have very specific thoughts about the UK. Thanks to series like Downton Abbey and countless shows and movies, first time visitors might expect the UK to be filled with castles, mansions, and other kinds of royal estates. 

There’s certainly no shortage of these types of buildings, but you often have to travel far to reach them. That’s why a place like nearby Berkeley Castle is the perfect destination for a backpacking trip. It has scenic views, ancient architecture, and cultural significance.

The Castle belonged to and is named after the Berkeley family. During the 10th and 11th centuries, the Berkeley family was incredibly prominent. So much so that William the Conqueror gifted this castle to them.

Berkeley Castle has been around for centuries. Records show that it was built sometime in 1067 and renovated numerous times since. There’s a terrace and a garden on the castle grounds, and history buffs can easily sign up for a tour of the interior.

Bristol Harbourside

You don’t always need to travel outside of the city to find adventure. Bristol is a big place with sprawling streets and amazing architecture. Honestly, you could make a day out of backpacking in and around the city.

If you stay within the city, you’ll come across numerous landmarks. We’ve already mentioned Banksy’s artwork, but there are also several fountains, statues, and estates that are worth your time. And then, there’s the Bristol Harbourside.

This seaside neighborhood is the ideal area for water lovers. Backpacking through this place will grant you consistent views of Bristol Harbour, numerous boats, and landmarks like Lloyds Amphitheatre. 

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Backpacking through the Bristol Harbourside will connect you to the neighborhood, its residents, and its culture. Grab a plate of fish and chips from a waterside eatery. Watch sailors haul in cargo. Immerse yourself in Harbourside. 

Cheddar Gorge

We’re bending the rules with this next entry, but it’s the kind of place that’s worth it. After all, you don’t find gorges and canyons in every part of the UK. You’ll need your good hiking shoes for this one, as it’s a 6-hour walk to Cheddar Gorge.

You could also drive to this spot, especially if you’re planning on canyoning for a bit. There’s plenty of room to do every outdoor activity you can think of. Rappelling, hang gliding, and ziplining are just the tip of the iceberg – or the tip of the mountain, in this case.

Cheddar Gorge is home to a myriad of fascinating animals. It’s also where the “Cheddar Man” was found. Sadly, he’s not a walking, talking pile of cheese – he’s a well-preserved 9,000-year-old ancient human. Even more discoveries are waiting to be uncovered.

Leigh Wood

Travelers walking through a gigantic green forest is probably the most picturesque backpacking image we can imagine. Trekking through the forest is certainly an experience we endorse – it’s just you, your gear, your companions (possibly), and your thoughts.

Some might be wary of trekking through the woods for fear of getting lost. Others may be searching for a challenge and will want miles of woodland to explore. In our opinion, Leigh Wood offers the best of both worlds.

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Leigh Wood is located near the Clifton Suspension Bridge, meaning that it’s not too far from the city. This forest is incredibly dense and absolutely teeming with vibrant plants and rare animals. It’s also full of trails and pathways, making it very easy to navigate.

Backpackers are more than welcome to set up camp here. Trekking through Leigh Wood during the day is one thing, but exploring the area at night is a must.

River Avon Trail

Bristol’s beauty can’t be understated; for every gorgeous building or astonishing bridge, there’s a natural landmark that’s just as amazing. One of the best things about backpacking is experiencing all of these sights firsthand.

The River Avon is a wonder that has to be seen in person. It’s 83.3 miles long and cuts through several cities. Bristol is one of them, hence why some folks call this landmark the Bristol Avon. People sail boats and kayak along the River Avon. 

However, we recommend the River Avon Trail for backpackers. Start in Pill, make your way along the trail in Bristol, and continue on to Bath. You’ll end up at the spectacular Pulteney Bridge. This is the sort of epic backpacking trip that you won’t soon forget. By the time you finish, you’ll have a great journey to talk about.

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