Accessibility: Unsuitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs on most of the route
Parking: Free on Kings Weston Road (limited space) or pay in Blaise Castle Estate car park BS10 7QS, (£3 for 5 hrs), or pay at The Dingle car park BS9 2PA (limited).
Kids will love: House museum (events for kids), parkland, folly castle, caves, stream for paddling, legends of giants, woodland, 2 children’s play parks, fairytale cottages, awesome views.
About Blaise Castle Estate
Blaise Castle Estate is a 650 acre green space located on the outskirts of Bristol. It is only a short drive from North Somerset and it’s a place we visit often as a family.
It’s a great place for young and older explorers alike. The historic landscape has over 20 listed buildings to discover, dramatic scenery, and a large open space where the kids can run about and play. There is so much to explore that an hour quickly turns into a full day out.
The House and Museum
The current Blaise House was built in 1796-1798 using Bath stone in a Georgian style. The owner, John Harford, was a wealthy Bristol Merchant and Banker. Later, he added the beautiful Orangery and Picture Room onto the house, and a pretty thatched dairy where the original house once stood. The Estate was sold to Bristol City Council in 1926 to preserve it from development and is now Grade II listed. Parts of the house are open to the public as a museum of everyday life, highlighting domestic and social history. It is free to visit and there are often events for children in the school holidays.
Blaise Castle is a Gothic-style folly built in 1766 on the hill above the gorge. The site was once a Iron Age Hill Fort, and later on the location of a Roman Temple and medieval church.
The castle was perfectly situated to give the owner, a great view of the passing ships along the Bristol Channel.
Although it’s now an empty shell, Blaise Castle was inhabited well into the 20th Century. It was built as a summer house and for entertaining guests. The rooms included a kitchen and a large oak-panelled drawing room with stained glass windows, tapestries and suits of armour. Even Jane Auston mentioned the castle in her novel, Northanger Abbey, where it is described as “the finest place in England”.
Blaise castle was restored by The Friends of Blaise and is occasionally opened up to visitors on Sunday’s in the summer months.
Blaise Hamlet (NT)
Blaise Hamlet is a picturesque hamlet of nine cottages built around a green. The cottages were individually designed by John Nash for John Harford in 1809 to house Blaise Estate pensioners. Built in 1811, the nine cottages are Grade I listed. This also includes the sundial and pump on the green. Each cottage is unique, some with thatched roofs, all with tall brick chimneys and dormer windows, they look like they’re straight out of a fairytale! Blaise Hamlet was gifted to The National Trust in 1943. Blaise Hamlet is definitely worth a visit and the following route includes a walk around the green.
Blaise Estate Parkland
The parkland area is a huge green open space that includes two excellent children’s play areas. The parkland is Grade II listed for its special historical interest.
Kings Weston Down leads off to the South West, parts of which were thought to be a Roman road between Sea Mills and Gloucester. Kings Weston Hill, was once the site of an Iron Age enclosure. You can see the embankment where it once stood. There is an information board with map to read about its history, archeological discoveries and ecological importance.
The Estate also has a large woodland with lots of paths to explore, some man-made caves to discover, a lily pond and Hazel Brook which is a great place to paddle.
Stratford Mill can be found down in the gorge next to Hazel Brook. It dates from the 1700’s. It originally stood on the River Chew near West Harptree and was moved to Blaise in 1956. It was dismantled ahead of the creation of Chew Valley reservoir, saving it from destruction.
How to get to Blaise Castle Estate
Blaise Castle Estate is located near Henbury in North West Bristol. Postcode BS10 7QT.
From the M5 South (Jct 18) follow A4 towards Bristol. Turn left on to Sylvan way, left onto Shirehampton Road and continue on to Kingsweston Road;
From Bristol South/city centre and Bath follow A4 towards M5, turning right into Sylvan Way and follow signs to Blaise.
From M5 North, (J17) follow signs for Westbury on Trym, along Cribbs Causeway and Wickbeck Road, turn right into Crow Lane, right into Henbury Road to Kings Weston Road.
Kings Weston Road is served by buses to Cribbs Causeway running via Shirehampton and Avonmouth. Nearby Station Road, Henbury, is served by more direct buses running to Cribbs Causeway via Westbury-on-Trym.
Bus services 1 and 76 from Bristol City Centre to Henbury
The closest railway stations are Sea Mills, Shirehampton. served by Bristol Temple Meads (4 miles).
Level of difficulty
I would rate this Blaise Castle circular walk as moderate.
About half of this route is paved. But the other half covers rocky, uneven paths, woodland tracks and grassland. There are three sections with steps.
If you want to stick to the paved paths and avoid any steps, you could walk a linear route to Coombe Dingle and back. From the house, instead of walking to the castle, stay on Hazel Brook Drive all the way down to The Dingle and back again.
If you have little ones who can’t walk far, I’d advise you to stay at the top and not venture into the gorge, unless you’re happy to carry them.
Blaise Castle Estate Circular Walk Directions:
The walk starts from the main Blaise Car Park near the playground. Or, if you parked on King Weston Road, start here.
Exit the car park onto Kings Weston Road and turn right. Continue along this busy road and find somewhere safe to cross over.
At the junction turn left onto Hallen Road and follow this downhill until you reach the entrance for Blaise Hamlet on your left hand side.
Go through the gate and follow the path around the perimeter of the green to see the nine fairytale cottages.
Exit via the same gate and turn right. Cross over and walk back up Hallen Road. At the top of the hill follow the road round to the left on to Henbury Road.
Cross over the road again and enter Blaise Castle Estate through the green stables entrance gates.
Follow the drive to the main house and museum.
Passing the house, take the left hand path down hill towards the trees. Turn right where the grassy area meets the trees and take the path along the woodland edge. Follow the path into the trees and look out for the wooden markers.
Take the first left into the woods at the marker and immediately right. Follow the wooden markers with castle sign to some steps.
Follow the steps uphill where you will meet a drive way.
Here, you can either follow the drive to your left and continue uphill. Or, cross over the drive and continue uphill on the track. Both will bring you out onto Castle Hill.
(If you want to visit Robber’s Cave, turn right here instead, and you’ll soon see it on your left hand side. Then, turn back and continue the route.)
As you walk into the clearing on Castle Hill, you will see Blaise Castle ahead of you. Take a walk around the perimeter. You may be lucky as it’s occasionally open to visitors on weekends in the summer months.
Directly in front of the castle is a bench overlooking a stunning view point. This is a lovely place to stop for a picnic.
The viewpoint in front of you is called Lover Leap and overlooks the valley, with Bristol (Stoke Bishop and Sneyd Park) in the distance. On the other side of the valley, you may be able to see Goram’s Chair, a rock resembling a throne, said to be for one of two legendary giants in local Bristolian folklore.
Descend here and follow the path round to the left.
Shortly, you will reach another view point and bench.
Continue on this path, passing Butcher’s Cave on your left. Named after the red tinge to the stones inside which resemble hanging joints of meat. It’s a small man-made cave with stone seat inside. Fun for the children to explore.
After a short distance the path becomes rocky. This limestone pavement rock formation is known as The Giant’s Footstep. Again, local legend says that the footprint was created by the giant Goram in a fit of rage.
Continue to the end of the path, descending down some steps on to the main drive. Turn right and head down hill past Stratford Mill on your left. This 18th Century building is in need of conservation work.
Walk across Mill Bridge over Hazel Brook and follow the lower path to the right, (keeping the brook on your right hand side). This path is Hazel Brook Drive.
Continue past Tarn Lake – which was originally a bathing pool – until you reach the lily pond.
The Lily Pond was created in the mid nineteenth Century. In the summer, the kids enjoy paddling in the brook around here. It’s a lovely area popular with families and dog walkers, and is a good place to stop. There are several ponds, and bridges along the route.
Continue past the ponds, keeping to the main path and pass under Goram’s Chair. The path goes up a slight hill to Beech Cathedral, an area planted with majestic beech trees and tree carvings.
Follow the path past another pond (covered in lilys in the summer) and continue on the path. Cross the brook and follow the winding path to Coombe Dingle car park.
Walk through the car park and turn right into The Dingle. This is now the road section.
Head up the Dingle and follow the road round to the right. At the top, turn right into Grove Road, a nice residential area.
The road winds to the right then left and eventually straightens out. Walk about half a mile to the top of the hill where Grove Road ends and turns into a rocky footpath.
This path is uneven and quite steep. Climb to the top avoiding any paths leading off, until you reach Kings Weston Down at the top.
You’ll see Kings Weston Down stretching out on either side. Continue right and you’ll soon reach an embankment which are the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort. This is a scheduled ancient monument.
Cross over the site and enter the woods through a small opening next to a metal gate.
This will take you down some steps through the woods.
Continue on the path which leads out into an open grassy area on the left. Follow the grassy track straight ahead and walk around the trees to the right (keeping the trees to your right hand side).
The main car park, children’s play area and cafe will soon come into view. The children will want to explore the two large play areas and have an ice cream!
This is the children’s favourite walk because of the huge playground, ice cream van (which is always parked next to it) and the opportunity to paddle in the brook.
It took us 3-3.5 hours with a few stops (including a picnic and ice cream) along the way.
Things to note:
This walk gets very busy on the weekends and in the summer, and parking can be difficult during these times. It best to arrive early or leave it until later in the afternoon during peak times.
Best time to walk Blaise Castle Estate Circular route
You can walk Blaise Castle Estate at any time of the year. We recently walked the route in January which was perfect for missing the summer crowds. Parts of the route can get muddy after rain.
Facilities at Blaise Castle Estate
A cafe, ice cream van and public toilets can be found near the children’s play areas between the main car park and the house/museum.
What to wear/bring with you
I recommend wearing a good pair of walking boots/shoes or trainers to provide support because parts of this route are rocky and uneven. Parts of the route can also get quite muddy.
Wear/bring thin layers of clothing which can be easily added/removed depending on weather.
I always recommend taking plenty of water with you to keep hydrated. We always take food with us too. If, like us, you are walking with children, snacks/food are essential.
Always follow the Leave No Trace principle and take all your rubbish home with you. Leave only footprints.
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