Hello! Welcome to the first instalment of our #Bristots series where, in conjunction with Forget Me Knit we are reviewing and investigating great spots in Bristol to help Bristol parents get out and about with their families and exploring this great city. First up today is a fabulous freebie: Brandon Hill and Cabot Tower, which can be found hidden alongside the top of Park Street; a little microcosm of tranquillity nestled amongst the busy hubbub of Bristol life.
Once, in my childhood I have a vague recollection of visiting Brandon Hill with a school friend and her grandparents and having squirrels eating nuts off of my head and shoulders. Until one sunny afternoon last August, I couldn’t actually remember where this event occurred but another brilliant Bristol phenomenon allowed me to stumble upon this gorgeous little spot accidentally once again. During the summer holidays last year, Darcey, my eldest nephew Oliver and I began to tick off the occasional Shaun the Sheep on the brilliant Shaun in the City trail where seventy sheep were placed around Bristol to raise money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal. It turned out this was pretty fun and a brilliant way to explore Bristol so we slowly recruited more family members and made it our mission to complete the trail (which we had great fun in doing). One of the sheep was hidden at the bottom of Brandon Hill and as my sister Gina and I blindly followed my iPhone Maps along Park Street and into Brandon Hill all recollections of my squirrel feeding aged 10 came flooding back. We quickly decided to come back soon after with a bag of monkey nuts and a picnic, when we had more time to explore. We did this in late August with my Mum, Nath, my sister and her two boys and my brother and his girlfriend. The brilliant thing about Brandon Hill is that it’s a bit of an adventure for toddlers – it’s really quite safe because of the vast, walled grassy spaces but has lots of ‘off-roading’ opportunities if you fancy a game of hide and seek amongst the trees. We were a little too early at the time but there are plenty of horse chestnut trees which would make for brilliant autumnal conker hunting and there is a fabulous little toddler-friendly park at the bottom to help run off any steam that hasn’t been expelled amongst the trees.
We came supplied with a hearty picnic and blanket and set up under some lovely shade. It was here that the children had great fun trying to coax the exceptionally brave squirrels over to join our meal. It wasn’t long before we’d made lots of furry friends who were quite literally eating out of our hands. Darcey and Harry, who were both only just one at the time, both held themselves perfectly still and sat with us waiting to give the squirrels another nut to hide away for winter. Even at this young age they were in complete raptures watching them running in front of them. Oliver, at four years old, couldn’t get enough of this and took himself up the hill to “find his own squirrels” to feed, with his pot of nuts. Another brilliant thing about this park is that the front half of it is really exposed so we could see Oliver clearly even though he had taken himself quite a way up the hill from us. It gave him the bit of independence he wanted but us the peace of mind that he was perfectly safe.
For older children again you might want to take a trip up the winding steps of Cabot Tower which was built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s voyage to America. There is some fantastic history associated with Cabot and lots of architecture in Bristol and if you want to find out more, have a look at the Visit Bristol site here.
After a busy afternoon out we were in need of a little refresher and stopped off for a delicious slice of cake and a drink at Boston Tea Party on Park Street, before we walked back to the car which we’d parked in the multi storey car park on Trenchard Street. We chose to make this expense but aside from this, the only thing we’d had to pay for was the parking charge. Being in Bristol, you are directly on many major bus links so travelling to Brandon Hill shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s also really close to lots of other major Bristol attractions like the Hippodrome and the Museum so you could really make a day of things if you wanted to.
- Where is Brandon Hill? It’s just off the top of Park Street: Brandon Hill Park, Park St, Bristol, Avon BS1 5RR
- When is it open? It’s open all year round – Cabot Tower is closed on Christmas Day though, in case you fancied a festive climb!
- How much does it cost? It’s free! Even entry to the tower is free.
- What facilities are on site? There is a dog-free park, lots of benches and a toilet block. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find an Ice Cream Van.
- Is it pushchair/wheelchair accessible? Yes – there are paths the whole way round and down the hill. The only bit you wouldn’t manage is the Tower.
- Is there parking? As anyone who lives/visits Bristol City Centre will know, street parking can be tricky. Tenchard Street multi-storey is about a ten minute walk along Park Row and is relatively affordable.
I’m sure it won’t be long before we revisit the squirrels of Brandon Hill and I’m intrigued to see if Darcey will stay still again this time, now she’s a little older! We wholeheartedly recommend stopping by this little hidey hole if you get an hour spare and we guarantee you’ll want to head back and explore it further, no matter who you’re with! Let us know what you think of Brandon Hill using our #Bristots hashtag and look out for the next Bristots review coming up next week!