Avon Gorge

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The Avon Gorge is a geological masterpiece and integral to the City of Bristol in everyway – physically and culturally, geographically and historically.

No marauders have ever dared to steal up the Avon to raid Bristol. Hillforts sit strategically on Clifton Downs and in Leigh Woods on the other side. In the 18th and 19th centuries excited vistors were thrilled by its Romantic wildness.

The Gorge defines the western edge of the city. The 18th century houses of Clifton and Hotwells wrap themselves artfully around the steep incline from the harbour to Clifton Downs. On the other side it's the woods. Then there's Brunel's contribution – the Clifton Suspension Bridge – connecting the two. Audacious engineering for its time, it remains an elegant stucture in a perfect setting.

The Gorge isn't just spectacle to be viewed at a distance. It has lots of nooks and crannies worth exploring. A foot and cyclepath pass along the whole length of the Gorge on the western side connecting Bristol with the village of Pill. On the way there are several routes off into the woods. Nightingale valley, close to the Bristol end, gives access to a whole network of paths in Leigh Woods; and further down at Paradise Bottom other paths lead up into more woods around the mansion of Leigh Court.

above: The railway neatly steps over the entrance to Miles' dock at the bottom of Paradise Bottom. The dock exported both sandstone (stone one of the Suspension Bridge piers was quarried from this area) and celestine a mineral used in fireworks and flares. It burnt a bright red colour.

There's a great deal more to be said about the Avon Gorge find out more here and you'll find plenty with a general internet search.


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