My partner and I moved to Shirehampton 5 years ago, taking the classic path to the suburbs for our first house.
When lockdown hit, when my runs started to stretch longer than 5k and when we had our daughter, we got out more and more to explore the local area.
Looking back over the last 2 years now, I'm amazed to find just how much green space we are surrounded by in North Bristol, and just how lucky a trail runner is nestled in this little paradise.
Below is a list of some of the trails on our doorstep, a love letter to the area and hopefully some inspiration for others to explore their local woods.
Starting with the first woods we became familiar with after moving here; between Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston is the King Weston Estate, stretching from Penpole Lane in the West, through extensive woodland that incorporates part of the Severn Way, up over long green commons to Blaise Estate.
I did my first ever trail run in these woods; shooting through the trees and circling King Weston house in completely inappropriate footwear for the rocky ground!
As an added bonus there is a hidden trail section that runs parallel to King Weston Hill just off the commons that is nice and technical, quiet and rarely used.
Blaise Castle & Coombe Dingle
Leading over from King Weston Hill we get to Blaise Castle Estate; a large and popular park that is the jewel of the whole area.
On the north side are long stretches of grass, the car park, café and playgrounds, along with the National Trust manor.
In the middle you have the woodlands leading up to the Castle with lots of little routes, descents and variety.
To the east is Henbury Golf Course which attaches to the Coombe Dingle paths, good for some hill training or extending your run around the park
Then heading south is the Coombe Dingle path, a long paved surface popular with dog walkers that runs along the River Trym. This is nice for a bit of speed work, whilst on the opposite site of the Trym is a muddy, technical path as an alternative (and climbs into Blaise if you are truly nuts).
At the Coomb Dingle carpark on the south side of Blaise Estate you can join the valley that runs alongside the River Trym, leading you on to the River Avon at Sea Mills Harbour.
This area is low lying and prone to flooding / mudding, but also offers a great way to extend a run right down to the Portway from Blaise without touching a road.
Severn Way & Old Sneed Park
At the bottom of the Trym Valley we can join the River Avon, which has a track running alongside it as an alternative to being on the Portway. This track can join on to Old Sneed Park, a wooded area with a large pond alongside short but sweet woods following the train line to Bennet's Patch & White Paddock.
Bennet's Patch is a open wilded space that hosts 2 Whales made out of recycled materials, originally on display outside At Bristol as part of an environmental awareness piece.
North of Sea Mills Harbour you can extend a run along the River Avon across the marshes next to the Rugby center before proceeding into Shirehampton Park; a short piece of National Trust woodland that gives stunning views of the Avon bend and fields across the way.
The woods end in a track past the local allotments, whilst a short hop across the road takes you into the golf course.
Shirehampton Golf Course
Around the edge of Shirehampton Golf Course, just south of King Weston Estate, is a National Trust trail with a lot of variety. The northern side is a flat run across the top of the course with views over the Avon valley, the eastern side is a fast descent with a little trail towards Sea Mills if you so wish, whilst the southern side is a climb up to high views of the river's bend.
The Downs & Avon Gorge
Moving back east and to the edge of the Severn Way; you can get onto the Downs from the Portway through either the gorge path, the woods next to Bridge Valley Road, the road itself or the zig zag path just past the bridge.
Once there, the well dubbed "Fairyland" stretch has plenty of technical trails and descents to try out, whilst you can run along the Downs proper, including the classic Circular Road and Ladies Mile stretches.
From there you can proceed up to Clifton Observatory and take a trip over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Extending a bit over the bridge takes us into Leigh Woods, a large woodland with plenty of options, whether it's the well marked trails, the hidden tracks through the woods or a jog along the Avon path.
The Gordano Round & More
As an added bonus, west of Leigh Woods is a whole set of woodland in Somerset; including Prior's Wood below Portbury, and the Gordano Round route linking West Tanpit, Abbot's Pool and more.
For even more routes, there's also the woods east of Failand and the whole of Ashton Court.