– If you’re looking for a short, woodland walk with some interesting history, ducks to feed, and a lovely spot for a picnic, Abbots Pool circular walk is for you!
About Abbots Pool
History of Abbots Pool
In the Middle Ages these ponds were used by the abbots and monks from St Augustine Abbey in Bristol to provide fresh fish whilst they were staying at their rest house nearby. Abbots Pool would have been created by damming the brook and natural springs.
Below the pool there is an extended sequence of small trout pools separated by cascades, and a little bridge further down.
In the 1920’s the woodland and pools were owned by tobacco magnate, Walter Melville Wills, who had the area landscaped. Much of the stonework around the dam and cascade is made from an artificial material called Pulhamite which looks exactly like stone. A cave was constructed next to the pool from this material too. Pulhamite was also used in the gardens of royal residences such as Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.
North Somerset Council (NSC) now owns the majority of the woodland surrounding the Pool; the rest is leased to the Forestry Commission. In 2012, Abbots Pool and its immediate woodland environment were granted Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status by Natural England. The work to maintain and improve the environment around the Pool is carried out by North Somerset Council, Abbots Pool Volunteers and the Abbots Leigh Wildlife Group.
The track running through the woodland, which is now a bridleway, is thought to have been used in Roman times.
How to Get to Abbots Pool
From the M5 (Jct 19) follow A369, then right on Manor Road;
From North Somerset follow B3129, left on Weir Lane, to Manor Road.
From South Bristol follow A369, then left on Manor Road
X4 from Bristol city centre (to Portishead) alight at The George Inn, Abbots Leigh
Level of Difficulty
I would rate this Abbots Pool circular walk as Easy. The terrain is mostly flat and paths are woodland tracks and gravel/rocky paths. You can walk this route all year round but can be muddy in parts after rain.
Abbots Pool Circular Walk Directions
The walk starts from the car park off Manor Road.
🥾 From the car park, head towards the green barrier and follow the wide track. After a couple of minutes you’ll see some steps on your right-hand side.
🥾 Turn right here, and follow the steps to the edge of the pool. Cross a little bridge and there is a picnic area with a few benches dotted about if you want to stop.
🥾 Otherwise, follow the path round to the left, continuing along the edge of the pool, through the trees. The path eventually takes you over the top of a small man-made cave. Walk round to the left and have a look. This area is a perfect spot to feed the ducks! There is also a well-positioned bench to sit and enjoy the view across the water.
🥾 From the cave, follow the path to the right of the wooden fence which goes downhill, with the cascade of water on your left-hand side.
My kids loved walking along the fallen tree over the pool on the left-hand side, but this isn’t advised for younger children.
🥾 Continue on down hill and turn left over the stone bridge.
🥾 Follow the path up some rough stone steps until you meet the main path at the top. Here, you’ll see an information board.
🥾 Turn right and follow the path alongside a fence, past an old stone building.
🥾 Turn left just after the building, where you’ll see a footpath sign. Follow the track into Snake’s Well Wood. Here, is the perfect spot for building a den!
🥾 Head along the path until you see a metal gate on your right-hand side as the path turns left. Go through the gate into a field. Dogs must be put on a lead here, due to livestock. Follow the well-trodden path towards another metal gate, keeping right, along the edge of the field.
🥾 Go through the gate and into another wooded area, Scutche’s plantation. Follow the path through the wood where you may spot some wild raspberries growing next to the path, until you reach another gate which brings you out into a field.
🥾 Walk straight ahead, keeping the fence to your left. Through another small metal gate and out onto a bridleway.
🥾Turn left here, and follow this path all the way to the road. Keep right where the path splits about half-way along.
If you want to shorten the walk, turn left on Manor Road and continue until you reach a public Bridleway sign. Turn left here, and back to the car park.
🥾 Otherwise, turn right and head up the hill (Weir Lane) under a tunnel of over-hanging trees.
*If you park in the layby on Manor Road, it’s a good idea to start the walk here.*
🥾 After about 100m turn left through a gap in the wall, at the start of the Avon Timberland Trail path. You’ll see a small brown sign on your right-hand side directing you.
🥾 Head along the wide path along the avenue of trees on either side. You’ll soon see wooden posts marking the 50 Acre Wood Trail off to the right. Ignore these and continue on.
🥾 Further on, take the left-hand fork in the path. There is a field to your right and the path starts going downhill.
🥾 At the junction, take the left-hand path and continue down hill to a gate. Pass the gate and continue to the road.
🥾 Cross over and follow the Bridleway signs straight over, and back to the car park.
Things to Note
Can you wild swim in Abbot’s Pool?
Wild swimming is no longer allowed in Abbot’s Pool. You used to be able to swim or paddle but since 2021, signs were put up by the council prohibiting swimming to protect the local wildlife. Suncream that enters the water system contains dangerous chemicals for wildlife and also creates a film over the water, which can kill fish and other species native to the pool.
Can dogs swim in Abbots Pool?
No, dogs aren’t allowed to swim in the pool either. Flea treatment on dogs has a similar devastating effect on the sensitive local wildlife. There are shallow water areas further down where dogs can have a drink.
Best time to hike Abbot Pool
This Abbot pool circular route has established paths throughout and can be walked at any time of year. It is particularly pretty in spring when the bluebells are flowering, and in drier months.
What to wear and bring with you
I recommend wearing a good pair of walking boots/shoes or trainers to provide support and comfort.
Other things to do around Abbot’s Pool
- Walk across Clifton Suspension Bridge (1 mile away). There is a lovely kids play park on the other side in Clifton, and the famous rock slide!
- Explore The Clifton Observatory and Giant’s Cave on the other side of the suspension bridge.
- Visit Ashton Court Estate – There are over 850 acres of park and woodland. Attractions include walking trails, deer parks, a miniature railway (on certain dates in summer), golf courses, mountain biking trails, courtyard cafe and picnic areas. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is held here each August.
- Discover Portishead – walk around the marina, walk along the coast path, or visit the lido.
- Explore Leigh Woods for more walking trails and views of the Avon Gorge.
- Try one of our other nearby walks – Clapton-in-Gordano or Cadbury Camp.
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