Leigh Woods Gorgeous Woodland Wander
This walk passes our natural play area and runs through beautiful woodland with rare and veteran trees as well as grassland. Stokeleigh Camp hill fort is perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge; there are dramatic views along the river here. See if you can spot the North Devon cows that graze the area during the summer.
North Road entrance, grid ref: ST555730
There's a site map at the North Road entrance. Go through the kissing gate and up the sunken track straight ahead.
When part of Leigh Woods was threatened by development, George Wills of the citys tobacco family purchased it and gave it to us in 1909. The Wills family had a vision of preserving this special place for the enjoyment of the public and so we were a suitable recipient. Another family member, Hilda Wills, also made generous gifts, donating Horton Court in Gloucestershire as a commemoration for her nephew who had died in the Second World War.
This brings you out onto an open grassy area. Cross this, sticking to the right hand side. You'll walk past a line of rare whitebeam trees.
Leigh Woods has long been recognised for its rich natural environment, including an abundance of rare whitebeam trees. James White described Leigh Woods in his book of 1912, Flora of Bristol: 'Famed Leigh Woods, a fine forest-like tract that crowns the cliffs and descends to the tideway - home to a plant community of uncommon interest.' They contain nearly every indigenous tree in the country, and offer in consequence a foliage of singular varied tint, from that of the darkest Yew to the pale light green of Lime and Oak, or the silver of the Whitebeam.
Just past these trees take the small path that runs along the top of the valley and straight on to another grassy area.
Ahead of you are the ramparts of Stokeleigh Camp, an Iron Age hill fort. Follow the narrow rocky path through these; take care if wet as it may be slippery.
Stokeleigh Camp is an Iron Age hill fort dating from c300 BC. It's about 7.5 acres (3ha) in extent and sits nearly 300ft (91m) above the River Avon below. There are two massive ramparts and ditches, and other smaller defensive lines. The camp had a counterpart on the other side of the gorge at Clifton and together they could guard or control the river below and lands above.
Once through the rampart, follow the grassy path straight ahead for 218yd (200m) to the viewpoint.
From here you will see breathtaking views of the Avon Gorge, Brunel's world famous suspension bridge and the city of Bristol beyond.
Turn left and follow the path along the gorge side for 328yd (300m), back through the ramparts and past a fenced pond.
Turn left on to the Purple Trail, where you can see the dramatic sweep of the ramparts and Centenary bench on your left.
Turn right and follow the Purple Trail to the stone wall.
When you reach the parish wall leave the Purple Trail and turn left following the stone wall. Go straight through the gate after 218yd (200m) and join the Blue Trail.
Follow the Blue Trail straight ahead. Once you reach the ancient yew that grows in the line of the wall, the path should curve away from the wall.
This is one of the oldest trees in Leigh Woods, approximately 500 years old. Can you see how the trunk bulges out? have a close look and see what you can find. In the past the tree has swallowed a part of the wall. We have now removed short sections of the wall either side of the tree to give it more room.
After yards 65yd (60m) you'll pass the entrance to the Natural Play area on your right.
Carry on past a single storey wooden building to the National Trust office, where you can pick up a site leaflet. Follow the gravel road and look out for the blue topped waymarker on the left after 76yd (70m).
Here is a great place for a picnic, we have a selection of bespoke tables and chairs and a carved wooden sofa. You can pick up leaflets, find out what's going on in the woods, there are toilets here too.
Follow the Blue Trail back down hill to the start.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
North Road entrance, grid ref: ST555730
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