I was asked for my top Bristol recommendations for a first time visitor. One of them has to be climbing the Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill. I’ve not tired of this free folly viewpoint since finding it as a first year student 15 years ago.
Bristol’s blessed with topology, which gives it an interesting cityscape even before you add the built environment. The latter is of mixed quality, and a visitor who arrives at Temple Meads and walks through Broadmead won’t have seen much to enamour them to the city. But cross College Green past the neo-Georgian City Hall and Grade 1 mediaeval Anglican cathedral, and climb Park Street towards the Gothic Wills Memorial Building of Bristol University and Baroque City Museum, and you might start to recognise its merits.
But detour into Brandon Hill park and climb the Cabot Tower, built in 1897 to mark the fourth centenary of the voyage of John Cabot to Canada, and you’ll really see what the cityscape of Bristol offers, from its calm tree-filled city squares to the industrial heritage of its Harbourside, out over the colourful rolling terraces of houses that line its many hillsides, and up to the steep slopes of the Mendips and Cotswolds that contain the city in the valley of the Avon.
Many years ago, on a previous incarnation of this site, I put together this guide to what you see from the top. Things have changed a bit since then.