Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Horfield Common to Eastville loop

Trip summary:

Cost: Free
Time: ~ 1 hour at a leisurely pace
Distance: 6.2 miles or 10 km 
Start/end point: Horfield Common, near the Horfield Leisure Centre
Equipment: Bicycles
Bring: A snack and some water
Special notes: Some of the roads along this route, such as Muller Road, can be very busy. We have a Trail-Gator so that we can attach our six year old's bike to ours, preventing any chance that he could make an unpredictable move that takes him into the traffic. This is a very personal choice and it's obviously a decision that each family has to make on their own based on their own comfort levels.

We need to get out of here...

There are times when you simply need to get out for a bit...the pre- or post- dinner window, after school, or a Sunday afternoon when your garden isn't quite large enough to contain your children's energy anymore. For these occasions you need something quick and dirty that doesn't require a half day to prepare or need a lot of equipment or money.

We were in need of just such an outing a couple of Sunday's back when at lunch time we realised we had spent the whole morning making preparation for a dinner we were hosting with some friends. With lunch in our tummies and guests not due to arrive for a few hours, we needed to get out and enjoy some sunshine. We deferred to a loop that I used to run every now and then, but this time we would bike so we could get back in time for some last minute preparations.

Within five minutes we had a camera, snack, water bottle and we were on our way. It's a very short jaunt up to Horfield Common, which was the start and end of our 10 km loop.

Get the worst part over first

Shelby attaches Morgan's bike to his with the Trail-gator.
We generally like to get the busy traffic-heavy part of the route over with first...that way, assuming we survive, we can really enjoy the rest of the ride. On Muller Road we hook up Morgan's bike to one of ours using our Trail-Gator so that there's no chance he'll accidentally make an unpredictable swerve out into traffic. He's a competent and very cautious cyclist, but he's also six and has been known to swerve to avoid killing worms and slugs...so better to be safe than sorry. The Trail-Gator (or any equivalent obviously) gives us the flexibility of letting Morgan ride independently when he's able and attaching him when he's tired or we're on busy roads. I can't recommend it enough!

These points all correspond to points on the live map on Google Maps here.
The fantastic mural that makes a great landmark for where you
get onto the underpass to get to Eastville Park from Muller Rd.
1 - Getting off Muller Road - Just before the large round about at the M32 there is a fantastic mural on the left hand side of the road. This is where you need to hop off Muller Road and take the underpass to avoid the round about. When you're under the M32 it is the left tunnel you want to take as you look straight ahead. This will take you out into Eastville Park.

2 - Follow along the river and lake - Once you're in Eastville Park follow the paths that roughly follow the M32 that you will no doubt hear roaring above you. This will take you down to the River Frome at which point you follow the path to the right with the river on your left. This is a nice little amble along and you will soon come out to the fishing lake, where you can always stop to feed the numerous resident swans, geese and ducks.
The view just as the path along the River Frome
comes out to the fishing lake.

3 - Turn left at the end of the lake - When you get to the end of the lake, the path takes a slight uphill and goes in three directions. Turn left. This will again follow a lovely shaded path along the River Frome, past a small weir and eventually over a bridge. Across the bridge there is a bench for a quick snack and water break if needed, or for a longer break there is a picnic table situated right beside the river along with a grassy area that's perfect for throwing a disc or kicking a ball around should the kids need a break in activity.

4 - Through the gate and over the stone bridge -
After the picnic area there is a gate at the end of the path with a space for cyclists and walkers to get around. Turn right out of the gate and cross over the beautiful stone bridge. Then you need to look for a path to your left and although there are a couple of options, only one is really suitable for bicycles - and it is pictured to the right (it's the last one you'll see but the most substantial of the paths). This is part of the Frome Valley Walkway and it will lead you past the Wickham Hill Allotments on your right and out onto Broom Hill Road.
This is the entrance to the path that you need
to take left that will lead you past Whickham
Hill Allotments. It's part of the
Frome Valley Walkway.

5 - Broom Hill Road - If you are happy to cycle on the road at this point, simply turn left and follow the road until you come to a roundabout. If you aren't as comfortable cycling on the road then you can cross immediately to the pavement on the opposite side where there is a bicycle path. When you get to the roundabout, go straight across and take the path into Stoke Park Estate.

6 - Under the M32 and up the hill - Follow the path under the M32 and past the giant yellow house. It's a gradual uphill, which makes you feel as though you are either incredibly out of shape or that you have a flat tire! Then the hill gets a lot steeper. Morgan had a helping hand from his dad, who biked alongside him with a hand on his back, but he felt pretty happy to have done the hill (mostly) by himself.

7 - Follow the sign for UWE - When you get to the top of the hill there is a sign post for UWE Frenchay and Stoke Gifford. Follow it to the left up Jellicoe Ave. Stay on Jellicoe Avenue until you see a path to the right that takes you through to Long Down Avenue (see the photo at the bottom of the page). Once out on Long Down Avenue turn left and follow cycle path that runs beside the road.

Cycling through Stoke Park Estate.
8 - Nearly there! - When you reach a fork in the path, take the left route. You can also go right, but it's slightly longer though arguably has more off-road paths. The left path follows along the edge of Hermitage Wood and will eventually come out right at the Lockleaze Youth & Play Space.

9 - Mostly back on roads and a final steep hill - When you come out of the path, cross Romney Road and follow Hogarth Road, which is a gentle downhill. At the end of the road turn left and then right onto Bonnington Walk. This road can have traffic, but it's also nice and wide. Before you cross the bridge over the train tracks you will see a cycle path down to the left, which you can take. This will lead you on a traffic-free path to Constable Road where you turn right. From here it is straight back to Horfield Common, though the road changes names from Constable Rd to Lockleaze Rd to Wessex Ave...it's all the same road. It's a very steep incline at the end back up to the Common and Morgan nearly lost all hope as he looked ahead at what was to come. However, with another helping hand from his dad he made it!

The route:

Our 10 km circular route from Horfield Common, North Bristol.
To see this map live in Google Maps please click here.


It's such a short trip, you just need to bring a snack for the kids.

Notes for the kids:

While Shelby and I enjoy the ride, Morgan needs to stop and enjoy the spaces. As a result, our trip allowed time to stop and look for fish from the bridges and throw a few stones in the river....things that are important for the kids. Sometimes it's easy to forget that stuff as adults.

Trip highlights:

This isn't exactly a wildlife excursion, but there are still pretty places along the River Frome. The highlight for me, however, was seeing Morgan's face when he finished the top of the hill out of Stoke Park Estate! He had such a sense of accomplishment because even though Shelby helped by giving him a push alongside, he was still independent and that seemed to make all the difference. I'm not as confident a cyclist as Shelby and wouldn't likely have been able to do it, so I'm glad he was there.

What we'd do better next time:

Well, I probably wouldn't lock us out of the house next time! That was a pleasant surprise upon our return what with dinner guests coming. Alas, it was a good way to meet the new neighbours we had yet to introduce ourselves to...always a silver lining!

Additional photos:

Biking with children
Cycling along the River Frome.
Cycling in Bristol with kids
A small weir on the River Frome.
A little bridge over the river. After you cross this bridge
there is a lovely picnic spot beside the river to the right of the path.
A picnic table and a grassy area make for a perfect picnic
place beside the river.
The entrance into Stoke Park Estate off the

Shelby gives Morgan a helping hand up the steep winding path
out of Stoke Park Estate.

Morgan is thrilled to have got up the hill with
very little help!

The path that leads from Jellicoe Ave to Long
Down Ave.

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