Road trips are fast becoming the travel of choice since most of the country is still on furlough and Mother Nature is reminding us what it’s like to have a summer. With overseas travel restrictions in place, it’s no surprise that many will be favouring road trips and fortunately, there are some magnificent places within easy reach of Bristol.
Please remember to travel responsibly and within the recommended guidelines.
Disclaimer: due to the current UK lockdown regulations, some of the proposed road trips destinations in this article may be closed. Be sure to check if the following are open and safe to travel.
Road Trips to Flower Fields
Distance from Bristol: approx. 75 minutes
Surprisingly, some of the best flower fields in the UK are located around the South West making them great options for road trips. The Confetti Flower Fields in Pershore are in a beautiful Georgian town meaning road trips of rolling greenery and exquisite architecture. Grown as biodegradable confetti, the Delphiniums and cornflowers are on public display for just 7-10 days a year so you’ll have to be quick!
A Walk With a View in Lyme Regis
By Clare Mackenney from Flip Flops or Wellies
Distance from Bristol: approx. 1 hour 45 minutes
When you’re taking road trips to find walking hot spots it’s good to know routes that are recommended. If you don’t know East Devon it’s a fantastic area to explore – gorgeous coastline, pretty villages and rolling hills in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The region was popular back in the Iron Age as well, that was approximately 800 BC until the Romans arrived in AD 43. Iron Age hillforts are a common feature across the UK and make great walks and road trips. Often owned by the National Trust they often offer free parking for members and well-marked paths.
Just on the Devon Dorset border is a large hill fort known as Lambert’s Castle. With a mixture of beech woodland and open heath, it’s a lovely circular walk. Just 7 miles from Lyme Regis the views are stunning across the Marshwood Vale – on a clear day you can see all the way to Portland.
After a walk there you can head into Lyme Regis. Stroll around the popular seaside town and it’s iconic Cobb Wall and pretty harbour. There are plenty of great pubs, cafés or fish and chip options not to mention an ice cream on the beach.
By Laura Oxley from She Who Wanders
Distance from Bristol: approx. 2 hours 15 minutes
Chances are you’ve seen a photo of this place at least once on social media or on a calendar in someone’s house. This iconic destination on the Jurassic Coast is one of the most photographed places in Dorset, and for good reason.
It’s a bit of a drive but the best part of road trips are the car snacks and Spotify playlist so settle in because you’re in for a treat! The pay off is a stunning natural limestone arch surrounded by rolling hills and the nearby picturesque bay of Lulworth Cove. Nearby campsites mean that in the summer months this is a highly sought after destination for holidaymakers.
If you are visiting during the holidays especially summer ones, the car park on-site will fill quickly, however outside of summer and weekends this spot can sometimes be entirely free of people.
Walking the coast on the cliffs above the beach is definitely a must-do for the best views of the arch and the sea.
The paths on either side of the main beach are the South West Coast Path, one will take you to Man O’ War bay. With a beautiful crescent moon shaped bay and golden sand mixed with rocks out to the gorgeous blue ocean. On the other side is Durdle Door which you can access via the steps down to the beach.
By Tor Hands from Tor Goes Travelling Again
Distance from Bristol: approx. 1 hour 50 minutes
Nestled between Chesil Beach and the open water of Lyme Bay, Fleet Lagoon is 8 miles long and definitely worth a road trip if you fancy a weekend trip away out of the city. Two hours away by car, or via a train journey to Weymouth, it’s also just about feasible for a long day trip.
Chesil Beach is well known as the title of Ian McEwans 2007 novel, later made into a film. Local fishermen claim they always know where along the 18 mile beach they are based on the size of the pebbles, which range in size from large stones in the east to pea-sized pebbles in the west.
The best way to appreciate the Fleet is to lace up your walking boots and follow the coastal path. A great circular walk starts from Langton Herring, offering fantastic views of the lagoon.
There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the area for a whole weekend, so check out Pitch Up for budget campsite options in the area and dust off your camping gear. You can enjoy the seaside delights of Weymouth, brush up on your Saxon history on the Isle of Portland Bill, attached to the mainland by a barrier beach or meet 600 mute swans at Abbotsbury Swannery.
Road trip to Castle Combe
By Jenni Sheldon from Travel to Recovery
Distance from Bristol: approx. 31 minutes
Castle Combe is just over a 30-minute drive making it one the most perfect road trips from Bristol. More than the race circuit it’s become known for, Castle Combe claims to be the prettiest village in the UK and since it’s like stepping back in time it’s easy to see why.
Castle Combe is very picturesque with its fairytale-inspired cottages making it a lovely village to walk around with your family and dogs. Based in the Costwolds, which itself is made up of many more pretty villages, this road trip offers the opportunity for exploring! So if you have a car, drive around and see what else you can discover in the Costwolds area.
I love driving to the Costwolds for a traditional Sunday lunch in one of the many local pubs.
The stone cottages and stream running through the village are beautiful. If you are lucky, one of the local villages will have homemade cakes and jams for sale in their front garden.
There isn’t much to do in Castle Combe apart from taking in its beauty, visiting the church or having a local beer in the pub however it’s still a great UK village to visit. It is a tiny village and will take about 5 minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other but its definitely worth it for its tranquillity and beauty.
Road trip to Woodchester Park
By Kim John from Life Can Be Toff
Distance from Bristol: approx. 42 minutes
Woodchester Park is a National Trust woodland park settled in the Nympsfield Valley near Stroud. An approximately 45-minute drive from Bristol, it offers a peaceful woodland and lake walk for all. There is plenty of parking available, charged at £3 or free to NT members.
After setting off on your walk from the car park, you’re immediately delved deep into woodland, make sure to wear comfy shoes as although well tracked it can get muddy and with a variety of climbs it certainly works those leg muscles!
There are a variety of paths you’re able to take and a route map, available at the car park, allows you to follow designated coloured paths. Although it is worth noting that this is a working forest area and can sometimes be slight
diversions in place from the mapped paths.
At the bottom of the main valley, an unexpected find as you approach the Gothic Woodchester Mansion (separate to the National Trust and open season to be checked ahead).
My favourite route follows the path past the mansion down to the boathouse and lakes. It’s a challenging but beautiful place to visit where you can settle for a picnic, take your dog (to be kept on lead) and enjoy the day.
Road trip to The Mendips
By Tor Hands from Tor Goes Travelling Again
Distance from Bristol: approx. 33 minutes.
Often overlooked as it’s right on Bristol’s doorstep, the Mendip Hills are one of the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding National Beauty for a reason another of the best road trips.
The limestone hills are home to gorges, caves, rocky outcrops reminiscent of Lord of the Rings and countless ancient monuments. An easily accessible road trip from Bristol, a half or full-day hike is the perfect antidote to the stresses and strains of city life.
Hike up Crook Peak for dramatic views of Wales beyond the Severn estuary or enjoy a peaceful walk around the shores of Blagdon Lake, actually a reservoir dating back to Victorian times. Take in views of the Somerset levels from Deer Leap or explore ancient woodland in Kings Forest.
The Mendip Hill ANOB website has easy to follow walk guides in PDF format. So why wait? Dig out your walking boots, pack a picnic and head into the hills!
As far as road trips go, this one is one of the best since The Mendips are easily reached by car from Bristol. Chew Valley Lake is just twenty minutes drive away, while Bleadon Hill is forty minutes by car. Public transport gets a little tricky but with careful planning, it’s still feasible to explore some of the walks.
Road trip to South Wales and Caerleon
By Heather Cowper from Heather on her Travels
Distance from Bristol: approx. 33 minutes.
The area around Newport in South Wales is surprisingly close to Bristol and can be reached in under an hour making it another of the great road trips, especially now that there are no bridge tolls to cross the Severn Bridge. At the pretty town of Caerleon you’ll discover the remains of the Roman fortress that was founded in the 1st century BC, when up to 30,000 Roman soldiers were stationed there. Visit the site of the Roman Baths to see the outdoor swimming pool and steam rooms that operated much like a modern day leisure centre, where the soldiers could relax.
A short walk from the baths is the Roman museum, with all the archaeological finds from the area, such as pottery, jewellery and the coffin of a Roman soldier. Your discovery of Roman Caerleon is completed by visiting the remains in nearby fields of the Roman amphitheatre and barracks where the soldiers lived. There are some pretty cafes and gift shops in Caerleon and we can also recommend lunch at the Priory Hotel, a 12th-century cistercian priory that is opposite the Roman Baths.
If you have more time to spare, there’s a pretty walk along the River Usk that starts at Caerleon and meanders towards Newport, then connects to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. The canal was used in the 18th century to transport coal by barge from the coal mining valleys to Newport and your walk could end at the Fourteen Locks visitor centre, where there’s also a car park. You can also discover many other things to do in South Wales, in the Valleys known for their green rolling scenery and fascinating industrial heritage.