Queer Vision opens 18 Sept

Wellbeing day blog

As well as celebrating online this year we wanted to acknowledge the negative side of the web and encourage you to switch off a bit. We all know by now that getting outdoors is great for your health and mental health. So put down your phone, switch off the TV and get outdoors.

We’ve got suggestions for walks, cycle routes and some gorgeous wild swimming spots. We’re incredibly lucky to be surrounded by beautiful countryside here in Bristol and as summer is turning to autumn now is the perfect time of year to explore it.

Let’s start with the walks, these are some of our favourites and take you out to some of the most beautiful spots.

Blagdon – Velvet Bottom Circular (6.8 miles) 

Starting from the village carpark in Blagdon, you climb up a hill and are met with the most beautiful views over Chew Valley Lake, you might even be able to see the Severn and Wales on a clear day. You cross fields and pass through the gloriously named Velvet Bottom Nature Reserve. Your return takes you across more fields, long wood and the Black Down hills. This one comes highly recommended.

Leigh Woods – Abbots Leigh Circular (6.38 miles) 

This one is great if you don’t have a car as it’s accessible from the city centre. It’s an nice easy walk taking in some of Bristol’s famous views over Avon Gorge, Clifton Suspension Bridge and Ashton Court. There are loads of weird and wonderful points of interest along the way including an Iron Age fort, a miniature railway, an old priory, a magnificent orangery and the tranquil beauty of Abbots Pool.

Sandpoint Circular Coastal Walk (3 miles) 

Just north of Weston-Super-Mare, Sand Point is an extension of the Mendip Hills made of limestone with unusual volcanic intrusions that juts into the Bristol Channel. You’ll get great views across the Bristol Channel to Wales, and up the Bristol Channel to the Severn bridges and lots of wildlife and archaeological features to explore. Perfect place for a quick dip.

Numerous studies have linked cold water bathing to a reduction in the hormone cortisol (your bodies main stress hormone). While it performs lots of important functions, an undue increase in this chemical is related to a lot of different problems, including depression. You can read more about the benefits of wild swimming here and its impact on anxiety and depression. So with that in mind we have some great spots for you to swim in.

Clevedon Marine Lake

Filled with fresh seawater this has been one of our favourite places to go in lockdown, it’s 250m long so you can get a really good swim, it’s open all year round and is absolutely free. There’s lots of space round the edge to change or to sit and open up that flask of hot chocolate.

Dundas Aqueduct

Just under this 250 year old aqueduct, on the right hand side if you’re looking at the basin, is the River Avon and a great spot to swim. Shallow and with a pontoon, people of all ages can enjoying a good swim here. There’s also a large field nearby for picnicking and there’s a cafe 5 minutes walk away along with some toilets.

Publow

This is a lovely spot for a swim and a picnic, there are some little nooks on the river bank and some big grassy meadows. There is a small beach you can use to get into the water and it’s just deep enough for a few laps. You can cycle to here quite easily from Bristol or park at the church. The weather has got colder so make sure you don’t stay in the water for too long, always go with someone and bring a good coat, blanket and a flask of something to warm up with after; or even better wear a wetsuit.

Cycling has boomed in Bristol and there are loads of great routes out from the city centre.

Chew Valley Lake Loop (24 miles, 2 hours)

This is a great ride on undulating roads with some short and minor inclines and one long gradual descent. Starting off at Queen Square, you follow signs for Route 3 on a traffic-free path which follows Portwall Lane, past Bristol Temple Meads, and following the River Avon. Here the route heads south through the suburbs of Arnos Vale and Knowle, skirting Talbot Road allotments and Knowle Golf Course. A lovely route and we would definitely recommend stopping at Chew Valley Lake for some fish n’ chips at Salt & Malt.

Bristol-Bath Railway Path (13miles, 2-3 hours)

It’s possibly the most famous of Bristol’s cycle routes, but for good reason – it’s very flat and takes you along gorgeous views. It’s also packed with riverside pubs, which are perfect for stopping at for lunch.

Strawberry Line (10miles, 1.5-2.5 hours)

The Strawberry Line runs across the flat plains of North Somerset, goes through a tunnel under the first ridge of the Mendips and deposits you in beautiful Cheddar, with its gorge, reservoir and cheese.

You can either cycle out from Bristol through Long Ashton towards Nailsea, and go down the lanes to Yatton or – and this is my preference – get a train to Yatton and head off with your bike from there.

The line runs flat and almost dead straight across the fields to Sandford – where the Thatcher’s cider farm is waiting with its tastings and shop and pub, and then on to Woodborough and through the tunnel to Cheddar.

Blaise Castle to Chepstow (28 miles 2.5hours)

The route starts at the fantastic Blaise Castle (which is also lovely for an autumn walk), you’ll cycle through the estate and pass through the picturesque Blaise Hamlet, it’ll take you close to Severn Beach and its diverse range of wildlife from seals to peregrine falcons. The route also takes you over the old Severn Bridge which has a pathway designated for cyclists and boasts some incredible views.

 

We hope this gives you some great ideas for getting out and about, remember to look after yourself and the people around you at this strange time. A while ago we pulled together some Bristol and National LGBT+ resources for you and Mind also offer some LGBT+ specific support.