The Go Wild Go West blog

Woodland Walks near Bristol & Bath

To put it simply, walking in the woods is awesome. Fortunately, my home near Bristol/Bath is surrounded by some beautiful woodland that is perfect for family walks.

Family walks in the woods

Whether you’re kicking through autumn’s fallen leaves, or watching the trees awaken with a burst of colour in spring, head to your nearest patch of woodland to enjoy some fresh air and fun outdoors.

I’ve also written about family walks in Somerset and fun day trip ideas from Bristol but this is all about loving the woods!

Family Outdoor Adventure Guides

As you head out on your family adventures, make sure you take your Go Wild Go West Outdoor Adventure Guides along with you, filled with awesome outdoor ideas and activities to try.

woodland walks near Bristol
woodland walks

Here are our favourite woodland walks near Bristol:

1. Goblin Combe, Cleeve

  • Post code: BS23 4XR
  • Parking: Yes
  • Journey time from Bristol:  30 minutes

As name suggests, Goblin Combe is home to a healthy population of Somerset Goblins. As you walk through the woods, you may notice them poking their heads around trees, or scuttling into the undergrowth. Well, that’s what my children tell me anyway….

This is an absolutely beautiful stretch of woodland. Even the car park is exciting with a huge slab of granite that is great for climbing.

Goblin Combe walk

There’s an easy, marked circular walk, heading up into the woods, past an ancient settlement towards the top of the combe. Then venture down the steep stairs towards the bottom of the combe and wonder back along the main path. The landscape is incredible – look up to see climbers on the steep combe cliffs above, discover dark caves along the way, and try to find the Goblin King’s tree (pictured).

The main path is good for buggies.

Goblin Combe, Cleeve
The Goblin King’s tree

2. East Harptree woods

  • Post code: BS40 6BZ
  • Parking: yes
  • Journey time from Bristol: 45 minutes

This beautiful stretch of woodland acts as a bridge between the Mendips and the Chew Valley. With so much to explore, you may need to visit a few times before you really get to know it.

Park in the large car park at the top of the woods. There is a network of good, hard-surfaced paths for buggies, or you can venture along any of the smaller paths to see where you get to!

East Harptree walk

Just a short walk from the car park you’ll find Smitham Chimney and a large pond (full of newts). The chimney is one of the last of its kind in the South West and represents the industrial past of this area of the Mendips. Standing in this amazing wood, it’s hard to imagine that it was once an epicentre of lead mining.

woods near bristol
spooky knight statue, East Harptree

From here, you can continue on a shorter loop back to the car, or connect via a few footpaths to the other beautiful part of East Harptree woods, the Combe (*it’s worth having a map to help navigate).

East Harptree Combe

The combe is one of our all-time favourite places to hang out – one of nature’s best playgrounds! Beautiful rocky banks carve out the combe itself which has a lovely stream running through it (many a welly splash done here), complete with a Victorian aqueduct running overhead. Wildlife is booming; ferns, wild garlic in Spring and a healthy population of dormice. We even saw a stoat once.

We once walked here with Clare Balding for an episode of BBC’s Ramblings. Listen here.

Walking in East Harptree Combe for BBC’s Ramblings

3. Rowberrow Warren

  • Post code: BS25 1QL
  • Parking: yes (paid parking or free if a pub patron)
  • Journey time from Bristol: 35 minutes

On discovering a good pub, it’s always worthwhile finding a nice walk nearby. Fortunately, we discovered both the Swan at Rowberrow and the beautiful woods around it at just about the same time. Park at the pub, grab the kids and dog, and head out for a woodland adventure.

These woods have a network of well-established pathways winding through them. Move between deciduous Beech trees full of colour, to dark, tall Evergreens. You could spend hours exploring and admiring the views. For a longer walk, you can easily connect up to the beautiful Dolebury Warren and on to Beacon Batch, the tallest point in the Mendips.

Cycling in Rowberrow

The woods are also great if you’re looking for something extra fun to do. There are bridleways for horse riders and, best of all, woodland tracks and trails for bike riders. Cycle along the main paths for a more gentle (though hilly) ride, or if you fancy a challenge, take to the downhill biking trails and scare yourself silly!

Woods conquered, head back to the pub for a hard-earned pint. 30 minutes from Bristol.

cycling Rowberrow
Rowberrow Warren

4. Lords Woods, Pensford

  • Post code: BS39 4NF
  • Parking: yes, Pensford village hall or limited parking on Birchwood Lane
  • Journey time from Bristol: 33 minutes

This small(ish) section of woods is great for exploring with kids. The well-established paths are ok for buggies though it does get very muddy in winter. There are 3 streams running down through the woodland, all joining in the centre to form a large, very pretty pond (or small lake?)

There are lots of trees to climb and fallen logs to scramble along. To extend your walk, park at the village hall in Pensford, head towards the woods then loop back along the river Chew through Woollard and Publow. This is a really beautiful spot of Somerset.

Finish off with a pint or lunch at the Rising Sun, Pensford. This pub has one of the best gardens on the banks of the river with views of an old footbridge and the viaduct overhead. It even features in our Guide to Wild Swimming in Somerset.

pub by the river, somerset
The Rising Sun, Pensford

5. Ebbor Gorge

  • Post code: BA5 1AY
  • Parking: yes
  • Journey time from Bristol: 50 minutes

When I spoke to my children about woodlands near us, my eldest said ‘well, you’ve got to include Ebbor Gorge.’ And he’s quite right. Ebbor Gorge is the lesser-known sister of Cheddar Gorge. It’s quieter and just as beautiful. Enjoy colourful deciduous woodland, some rock climbing, and beautiful views from the occasional clearing. It feels like an ancient and quite magical place. In fact, the fossilised remains of reindeer, aurochs, brown bear, spotted hyena, lemming, arctic fox, great bustard and woolly rhinoceros have been here.

Ebbor Gorge Walk

From the large car park, venture down into the woods. You may find caves along the way, and even a large brown bear and hyena (in wicker form). There’s a wonderful picnic spot towards the top with a clearing and one of the most stunning views in the area. It is perched on a precipice so parents with small children may not want to linger here for long, instead heading down to the nearby field clearing for a picnic.

There are steps to climb up and down and even an exciting rocky scramble along the path so buggies are a no, but this is a great adventure for kids, young and old!

family walks near Bristol

How do we plot our adventures? Using a map and the awesome series of Wild Guides which share the best, secret spots to explore across the South West. We take it with us whenever we visit somewhere new! Grab a copy here.

woodland walks bristol

*I have used and enjoyed the Wild Guide book series for years and I hope you will too. Though I take an affiliate commission for each book sale from my website, this helps cover the running costs of Go Wild Go West.