As much as we love city life, it’s easy to forget that there’s a world of breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history right on our doorsteps.
The National Trust work tirelessly to preserve the rich heritage of these isles, and if you don’t mind venturing off the beaten path, you’ll find that there’s an awful lot worth preserving.
So put down your iPad, step away from the Wii and take a look at five stimulating family days out that are good for the soul (and easy on the wallet).
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Leigh Woods offers stunning views, idyllic walks and a choice of easy going mountain bike trails.
The ancient woodland boasts oak, ash and lime trees, as well as a charming picnic area and the remains of an Iron Age fort. Oh, and until September, a flotilla of abandoned fishing boats, courtesy of artist and UWE graduate Luke Jerram.
Kids will love building dens and exploring the trails, while nature lovers will be treated to a bounty of native flora and fauna, some of which are unique to the area – although you don’t need to be Chris Packham to appreciate the magnificent views of Avon Gorge. And best of all, it’s absolutely free – even the parking. Leigh Woods, take a bow.
Distance from city centre: 2.3 miles. Get there using the National Cycle Network Route 41 by bike, or look for the Forestry Commission car park on North Road, off the A369 if driving.
PPI cold calls and endless emails getting you down? Then step back in time with a visit to historic Blaise Hamlet.
Built in 1811 to house retired servants from the nearby Blaise Castle estate – which is also well worth a visit – Blaise Hamlet has peace, quiet and olde-worlde charm by the bucketload.
Each of the nine unique cottages, designed by the pioneering architect John Nash, faces a charming open green complete with a sundial and water pump. Picturesque, much?
Maybe this is what Ray Davies had in mind when he wrote ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’. We like to think so, anyway.
Just remember not to get carried away peering in through the windows – the cottages are still very much occupied…
Distance from city centre: 4.2 miles. You can get there by following the National Cycle Network Route 4 to Henbury by bike, and use the B4057 to Henbury to get you their by road.
Failand estate is a nature lover’s paradise. The hedgerows and woods are home to more than 76 species of bird, including buzzards and sparrowhawks, while tree spotters will have a field day, since the area is home to some of the UK’s more unusual species, including cedar and sequoia – otherwise known as the giant redwood.
Let your imagination (and your kids) run wild amid the evocative ruins in Summerhouse Wood before nosing around the charming 19th century church. Then, when you’re all worn out, head to the Failand Inn for some much-needed grub and a swift ale or two.
The area is perfect for walking dogs, and the rolling hills afford some stunning views of the Severn Estuary and Wales. Epic Failand.
Distance from city centre: 4.6 miles. Cyclist can reach Lower Failand using the National Cycle Network Route 334. Driver will find limited parking on Sandy Lane in Lower Failand.
Completed in 1863 by the fertiliser magnate WIlliam Gibbs, this quintessential Victorian pile is an object lesson in glorious neo-Gothic extravagance.
Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or not, you’ll be enchanted by Tyntesfield’s imposing grandeur. Plus, youngsters may notice more than a passing resemblance to a certain school of witchcraft and wizardry.
The opulence continues inside, where four generations of Gibbses left their mark with oil paintings, curios and more stained glass than you can shake a stick at (although you probably shouldn’t).
There’s also a thoroughly modern gift shop and an excellent cafe, and the surrounding parkland is worth a visit in its own right. For a fun-filled and informative family day out, Tyntesfield is hard to beat. Not bad for a man who made his fortune from bird poo.
Distance from city centre: 5.4 miles. Cyclists can follow the B3128 and then the B3130 to Tyntesfield. Drivers from Bristol will likely take the A370 onto the B3130.
Sure, the Victorian times were pretty wild. But if you like your history really old, then the Iron Age hill fort at Cadbury Camp is sure to stir your imagination.
The grass-covered earthworks look almost like a natural part of the landscape, but don’t be fooled: the fort was built some 3,000 years ago by the local Dobunni tribe, although its purpose remains unclear to this day.
The area has a mystical, uncanny feel, and legend has it that King Arthur once walked among the rolling hillocks. Bronze Age artefacts and Roman coins have also been discovered here, so keep your eyes peeled for hidden treasure. And if you’re feeling particularly cruel, you could always tell the kids you’re going to Cadbury World…
Distance from city centre: 8.6 miles. National Cycle Network Route 33 will take you to Nailsea, then use the B3130 towards Tickenham. Drivers can follow the B3128.
If you still want to get some fresh air an enjoy what nature can offer in and around Bristol, take a look at our list of nearby nature reserves and woodlands.