Backyard travel part one: Bristol and (just) beyond

Lily shows you how to see Bristol through new eyes and suggests places to make your escape that aren’t too far away

Through hard work and a splash of good luck I have been able to travel a fair bit. I realise, though, that this isn’t always possible – maybe you’re in school, at uni or maybe you  have a full-time job, meaning you don’t have the time. Maybe you simply don’t have the funds. My splash of luck was a little bit of money from relatives, and my hard work was being thrifty, finding deals and saving up. I had a job at a takeaway for four months in Bristol to fund my travel, and I busk and sell portraits on the road, as well as freelance writing.

Travel is such a great way to  find out where your strengths lie and how you cope with problems. It’s also fantastic for expanding your mind, meeting interesting people and seeing wonderful things. Most importantly, it’s fun.

My first suggestion for those whose souls are (like mine) filled with wanderlust, would be to explore Bristol first. Whether you are from this wonderful city or you have moved here more recently, there is no way you have seen it all. My Bristol bucket list is still as long as it will ever be, and it will never end as there are always new things to discover. The best thing is you can probably walk to all the places you are ‘travelling’ to!

Bristol as a tourist

How many Parisians have been up the Eiffel Tower? If you were from Rome do you think you would spend lots of time at the Colosseum? Do Londoners ride the London Eye? Maybe the answers to those questions are loads, yes and all the time but more likely is that they have their own local haunts and would rather avoid the tourists.

These attractions are, however, popular for a reason and maybe it would be nice to find out why. Most of the top things listed on TripAdvisor to do in Bristol I know I haven’t done – for example, the Red Lodge Museum or the Georgian House Museum. Maybe they’re incredible. Maybe they aren’t – but there’s only one way to find out!

If you’re stuck for what to do in Bristol some attractions that are popular with visitors are the SS Great Britain, Cabot Tower or the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Some great places that I love in Bristol:

  • The Bristol Improv Theatre is the first dedicated improv theatre in the UK. It is a fantastic place to spend an evening. There are always amazing shows and they run courses if you want to give it a go yourself.
  • Watershed is a cultural hub. It is a cinema, a cafe/bar, office space for creatives and just a chill place to hang out or try and get some work done.
  • A great area of Bristol to spend some time is the harbourside. As well as being beautiful there is also a lot going on. This is where you will find the Watershed as well as lots of other cafes, restaurants and shops. The surrounding areas contain a lot of other things to see and do. For example in Millenium Square you can find we the curious which is another great thing to do.

I hope this can inspire you to explore Bristol with fresh eyes.

Just beyond Bristol

Part of the travel experience is the journey, the physical act of traveling. This is the moment you can get excited about the adventures you are about to have. I personally have a little ritual for every time I get on a coach, train, bus or plane. I listen to the song ‘Two of Us On the Run’ by Lucius and stare out the window. If I’m on a plane I try and time it so the bridge of the song coincides with the plane leaving the ground.

If you can put yourself in the mindset of travel and out of the mindset of everyday life then you will have a wonderful time. Maybe you’re in school and you’re having a hard time with the pressure of homework and doing well to eventually get into university. Maybe you have a job and you want to escape your daily routine. Maybe you’re in between things and you are just trying to figure out what comes next and you’re looking for a way to clear your head to work it out. Whatever your situation, a day out could be exactly what you’re looking for.

The easiest way to have travel time on an adventure when you don’t have vast funds or a huge amount of time is to use the bus or the train. There are plenty of little train stations around Bristol that all take you to Temple Meads and from there you can catch a train to many nearby places. Same with buses – from wherever your journey starts, it shouldn’t be difficult to reach the bus station.

Glastonbury is an option, with loads of historical ruins to discover plus the Abbey and Glastonbury Tor. If you fancy a more coastal adventure, then Weston-super-Mare would be a great place to go. You could spend an afternoon strolling up and down the pier. Also accessible by bus is a beautiful place called Claverton Weir where you can go wild swimming.

The place that came to mind first of all when I was planning this article is Bath. It’s not too far from Bristol and it is accessible in many different ways. The two modes of transport I have mentioned are available, the train and the bus will both take you to Bath. However you also have a third option – the Bristol to Bath cycle path. It is a beautiful route through the countryside that goes alongside a railway track. It is a thoroughly pleasant experience and a day out in itself.

The journey will put you in the mindset of a holiday and you can make like you are jetting off for a great adventure and hype yourself up along the way. There’s plenty to discover and explore and it’s all on Bristol’s doorstep.

Do you have any other local recommendations? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram