The A-Z of the Downs by R. L. Bland Introduction. To make it easier to discover the location of sites around the Downs I have divided the Downs into Zones. Zone 1 is Clifton, and everything south of Bridge Valley Road. Zone 2 is the Avon Gorge and everything west of Circular Road. This is an SSSI. Zone 3 Covers from the northern edge of the Downs to Ladies Mile, and as far east as Stoke Road. Zone 4 Covers the Downs between Ladies Mile and the main road, and up to Stoke Road. Zone 5 Covers the area east of Stoke Road as far as Upper Parrys Lane and the Westbury Road. down to Blackboy Hill. Zone 6 Covers what is often called Granny’s Downs or Westbury Park, east of the Westbury Road. Zone 7 Is everything North of Upper Parrys Lane.
I distinguish between sites that were once important, but have vanished, by the term “Former”, such as the “Former New Hotwell”, from sites where there is still something to be seen, such as “The Roman Road”, though this has to be distinguished from “Roman Road Avenue”. I have avoided in most cases using the definite article to avoid having all references start with a T. I have given capsule histories and dates where they are known, as well as brief a description of where something is as possible.
1 Ash Wood. Zone 3. This wood runs along the northern edge of the Downs, north of Circular Road. It has many veteran Ash trees and a few Oaks.
2 Ash Wood Avenue. Zone 3. This avenue along the northern edge of the Downs was first mapped in 1880 as a new planting, presumably of Huntingdon Elms. It is clearly visible in the 1946 aerial photo. The present Beech avenue was replanted in c 1980 as a replacement for the Elms.
2 Avon Gorge SSSI. Zone 2. The SSSI is the whole face of the Gorge west of Circular Road, the Promenade, the Suspension Bridge Path, Bridge Road and includes all the ZigZag. It is designated for the 19 Whitebeam species, and 15 plant species, a number of which are unique to the site.
3 Baker’s Path. Zone 3. Runs for 750m from the top of Ivywell Road to Upper Belgrave Road. It was created as a road in 1862 by the developer of Downleaze, to link his new buildings to Clifton. He was forced to remove it, but in 1882 it was reinstated as a path.
4 BBQ area. Zone 4. A site just south of Ladies Mile. Designated in 2015 as a solution to the problem of damage from BBQs; it has tables, and inset slabs in the grass, but no litter bins. It is not well signposted. 5 Black Boy Hill. Zone 5. The name given to the top of Whiteladies Road, after the original Black Boy pub, demolished 1874, which straddled Whiteladies Road. The present pub is much further down the hill, and named after Charles II, who was swarthy.
6 Black Boy roundabout. Zone 5. A complex junction with zebra crossings created in the 1960s, with minor modifications in 2014.
7 Bridge Valley Road. Zone 2. Opened in 1822, designed by John Loudon Macadam, with a constant gradient, this road climbs 300 feet up, and 700 metres along, the Gorge, from the Portway at to the junction with Clifton Down.
8 Bristol 600 Memorial Trees. Zone 3. A small group of five Whitebeam trees, two of them tiny Bristol Whitebeam replacements planted in 2016. The original plantation celebrated the Bristol 600 exhibition in 1973, attended by the Queen. They can be found just north of Circular Road on the big bend.
9 Bus stops. There are 13 pairs of Bus stops, three on Westbury Road, three on Clifton Down, three on Clifton Green, one on Stoke Road and one on North Road. The Open Top bus goes round Circular Road with a stop at Sea Walls. The services involved are 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 505, 888, S6, S6c U1.
10 Cabmans shelter. Zone 6. Just south of White Tree roundabout. The last one remaining. There was another on Clifton Green until a decade ago.
11 Café Retreat. Zone 5. BS9 1FG. Situated by the Water Tower this was originally a toilet, turned into a café c 2005.
12 Camera Obscura Zone 1. This is a lens in the top of the old Tower Mill, part of the Observatory in Clifton Camp. The lens creates a live display of the surrounding area on a white dish. It was built by William West who bought the site in 1828. There are two others in the UK.
13 Centenary Oak. Zone 1. Planted in 2000, this young oak is close to Proctors Fountain.
14 Changing Rooms Zone 5. A large complex of changing rooms built at the north end of the Water Reservoir that are skilfully screened.
15 Circular Road Zone 3. This road, 1700 m long, runs from a junction with Ladies Mile to a junction with Ivywell Road and Rockleaze. It was designed by Alderman Proctor and opened in 1875.
16 Circular Road Avenue. Zone 3. The avenue runs from the junction with Ladies Mile to the top of the Gully. It is 700 metres long and almost entirely composed of Small-leaved Limes. 17 Clay Pit Road Avenue. Zone 6. 150 metres long, this is a Horse Chestnut avenue dating from c 1860, but the Chestnuts are dying and have been partially replaced by Tulip Trees.
18 Clifton Camp. Zone 1. An Iron Age camp, defended by a ring of banks and ditches, one of three fortifications guarding a crucial crossing of the Avon. It has spectacular views of the Gorge and Dundry, and on a good day the Sugar Loaf mountain in Wales can be seen 35 miles away.
19 Clifton Camp Path. Zone 1. A paved path 450 metres long that runs of from the Promenade path round the outer edge of Clifton Camp, past the Observatory and down to Bridge Road.
20 Clifton Down. This is the whole area of the Downs within Clifton parish, marked out by the charter of 883. The boundary line with Westbury parish is marked the Mere Stones. It is owned by the Merchant Venturers, who bought the manor of Clifton. The northern half of the Downs in Westbury Parish is called Durdham Down.
21 Clifton Down. Zone 1 and 4. This is also the name of an ancient road, turned into a toll road in 1727, that runs up from Bristol, through Clifton to Shirehampton. The name Clifton Down applies to the 1500 m section that crosses Clifton Green from the Clifton Roundabout, up to Clifton Camp in a slight cutting, and then down to the junction with Bridge Valley Road, where there was a turnpike gate. There it forked, one route going across to Stoke Hill, the right fork running along the southern edge of the Downs to a junction with Pembroke Road. It can easily be confused with Clifton Down Road.
22 Clifton Down Avenue A. Zone 1. There are two different avenues. The first, 250 metres long, is on Clifton Green and runs up the edge of the road from the Clifton Roundabout at to the top of the hill at, and is now of mixed species.
23 Clifton Down Avenue B Zone 1. A double avenue of Beech trees lines the east side of the road for 150 metres, and is parallel to the double avenue lining the Promenade.
24 Clifton Down to Severn Beach Railway. Opened in 1877, the track runs in a tunnel downhill from Clifton Down station to the Avon Gorge, where it emerges just under Sea Walls.
25 Clifton Green. Zone 1. The name given to the parkland surrounded by Clifton Village.
26 Clifton Green Avenue 1. Zone 1. There are two short avenues running along the paths across Clifton Green. The first is a Lime avenue running from the top of the Mall, to the junction with Clifton Down.
27 Clifton Green Avenue 2 Zone 1. This is a Beech avenue running from the top of the Mall, for 100 metres to the top of Canynge Road.
28 Clifton Rocks Railway Zone 1. This railway runs from Sion Hill down through the rocks to Hotwell Road. It was opened in 1897 and closed in 1939, though it then became a Broadcasting centre and bomb shelter.
29 Clifton Roundabout. Zone 1. A six ways intersection, which usually works, close to Christ Church.
30 Coach Park. Zone 7. Part of Upper Parry’s Lane is now designated as a Coach Park, alas.
31 Coronation Oak. Zone 1. Planted in 1903 to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII close to the top of Bridge Valley Road.
32 Cycle Racks can be found at Sea Walls, just off Circular Road; covered ones at the Zoo entrance; at the entrance to the Suspension Bridge.
33 Cycle path. Zone 5. This runs alongside Stoke Road for 540 metres from the Stoke Hill lights to the Water Tower.
34 A shared Cycle path. Zone 5 runs for 900 m From Blackboy Hill along Westbury road to Whitetree roundabout.
35 Cycle Routes, National.
36 Dark Sky Discovery Site. Zone 3. There are no street lights on Circular Road or Ladies Mile, so the area around Circular Road is very dark, and the best place in Bristol to observe the stars.
37 Display panels. Three panels can be found at Sea Walls; one at the Gully Viewpoint; one in the Goat enclosure; one at the Peregrine Watch Point; four in Clifton Camp at; one on the edge of the Suspension Bridge. They largely deal with natural history information. There is one at the top of Blackboy Hill ; and another close by dealing with the Haven..
38 Display Boards. Three large wooden display boards, with detailed maps and the Bye-laws, can be found close to the Suspension Bridge; The Water Tower; and at Whitetree Roundabout.
39 Downs meadows. Zone 3. In 1988 the Ranger began the policy of mowing the area once a year only in late July, to encourage wildlife. A huge success.
40 Durdham Down. The whole area of the Downs within Westbury Parish.
41 Durdham Park Crossing. Zone 6. This is a light controlled pedestrian crossing of Westbury Road, linked to a bus stop.
42 Exercise Station. Water Tower. Zone 5. Created 2015. Situated just behind Café Retreat.
43 Exercise Station, Ladies Mile. Zone 4. Created 2015. Just to the east of Ladies Mile by the Baker’s Path.
44 Fairyland. Zone 2. Generally, this term appears to refer to the slope north of Bridge Valley Road up to the paved path round the gorge edge. The grassy area is a former barrage balloon site.
45 Football Pitches. Zones 3 and 5. There are 26 grass pitches on the Downs and 50 teams play in three divisions throughout the winter on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The league was founded in 1906 and is the oldest in the country.
46 Former Bandstand. Zone 2. In the 1930s there was a bandstand next to the Promenade.
47 Former Belgrave Road Quarry. Zone 4. This lies next to Upper Belgrave Road, just east of the Tumps. It was filled with slurry from Cumberland Basin, c 1870 and its outline is still visible.
48 Former Brunel Pump House. Zone 2. 1845 A magnificent building by Brunel at the bottom of the Gully, sited where the Stormwater Interceptor control buildings are now. Demolished in 1864.
49 Former Brunel Reservoir. Zone 1. 1845. Brunel’s scheme was to pump water from the Avon up to the Observatory. He dug out a large oval reservoir, but the whole scheme then collapsed. This action destroyed future archaeological interpretation. In very dry weather the oval can be discerned and is visible on the Google satellite map.
50 Former Clifton Toll Gate. Zone 2. Probably erected in 1727 after the passage of the Bristol Turnpike Act, this building was at the corner of the present junction of Bridge Valley Road and Fountains Hill. The original building was replaced by a smarter one in 1822 after Bridge Valley Road opened. In 1867 when Turnpikes were abolished this building was removed, and in 1872 replaced by Proctors Fountain.
51 Former Gibbet. Zone 4. This is the little triangle of land at the top of Pembroke Road, with a broken fountain and a young Beech tree. The last person to be hung was Shenkin Protheroe for murder in 1783.
52 Former Gloucester County Cricket Ground. Zone 5. In 1863 WG Grace played an All England XI on this site, whose northern boundary is defined by the five huge Beech trees that are south of Saville Road (Which had not been built at this date.) The pavilion was a tent. The problem of charging fans caused the ground to be abandoned. It became the Clifton Cricket Club ground until 1930.
53 Former Hotwell House. Zone 1. The Merchant Venturers in 1692 sought to use a hotwell that had been known about for centuries, and built a pump house in 1696. Its success led to the growth of Clifton. The original building was superceded in 1816, and the demolished in 1867 to enable improvements to the entrance locks at Cumberland Basin.
54 Former iron-age Field system. Zone 4. The remnants of a pre- roman field wall can be seen in snow, or drought. The line is very clear on Google satellite map.
55 Former Stoke Road Quarry. Zone 3. An extensive quarry on the land between Stoke Road and Ladies Mile close to their junction. It was filled c 1868 with slurry from the enlargement of the Cumberland Basin. The outline of its lip can be discerned in dry weather.
56 Former New Hotwell. Zone 2. A second hot well was discovered in 1702, and a pump house built. It was approached by a precipitous track roughly following the present southern edge of the Goat enclosure. Its remote location ensured it had little success, but John Wesley stayed there and declared himself cured by the water. When the Portway was built in 1922 a public fountain was created, and still exists on the cliff at the side of the road.
57 Former Ostrich Inn. Zone 5. A notorious drinking spot, the site is now a care home off Saville Road, with a grove of Scots Pines outside it. The only access was a private road running from Grove Road, and crossing the Westbury Road close to Blackboy Hill. Its line can occasionally be seen in very dry weather and is visible on the Google satellite map. The Inn and the road were closed in 1877.
58 Former Pembroke Road Quarry. Zone 4. This quarry was close to the pound, and its lip is still clearly visible. It was the last quarry to be filled, in 1883.
59 Former Pembroke Road Toll House. Zone 4. This was very close to the triangle of land at the top of Pembroke Road, called Gallows Acre Lane in 1727, and much narrower than it now is, as a normal farm gate was sufficient as a barrier.
60 Former Racecourse. Zone 3. Today we think of this as the Pop Concert site. The first recorded race was in 1718, and racing was annual until 1839. The full extent of the course is unclear but it would have extended in a long oval from Sea Walls to the Old Toll Road.
61 Former Tennis Courts. Zone 2. These lay in the Great Quarry and were approached from the Portway. They were very popular in the 1930s, and there were toilet facilities created in the 1960s, but increasing traffic led to them being abandoned in the 1970s.
62 Former Toll Road. Zone 3. The original toll road from Clifton to the top of Stoke Hill ran from what is now Ladies Mile to what is now Rockleaze. It was replaced by Ladies Mile at some point in the 18c century, but its avenue continued to be maintained.
63 Former Westbury Road Quarry. Zone 5. This huge quarry lay between Stoke Road and Westbury Road. The Seven Sisters pines mark its eastern edge. It was filled in c 1870 with spoil from the improvements to the Cumberland Basin locks.
64 Fountain Hill. Zone 2. This is the short steep hill that now forms the southern end of Ladies Mile. It lies in a deep eighteenth century cutting, and was part of the toll road from Bristol to Stoke Hill. The name refers to Proctors Fountain that lay at its southern point for a century. 65 Giants Cave. Zone 1. This natural cave is in the quarry face below the Observatory, but the access to it from above was artificially created by William West in 1837, and he built the balcony viewpoint.
66 Goat Enclosure. Zone 2. In 2011 Natural England decided to act to remove dense scrub from the Gully that was destroying the botanical interest of the site which lies within the SSSI. After initial clearance, and the creation of a goat-proof fence they introduced six Afghan goats in July 2011. There are six kissing-gate entrances; near Sea Walls; off Circular Road, on the northern slope; off Circular Road at the top of the bend, the steepest route; Off Circular Road, leading to the Victorian Steps; half way down the southern fence; At the bottom of the central path giving access to and from the Portway.
67 Granny’s Downs. Zone 6. The origin of this name to describe the area bounded by Clay Pit Road and Westbury Park Road is obscure. The soil is a heavy clay, and in wet weather a small pond often fills.
68 The Great Quarry. Zone 2. This is the largest of the quarries in the Gorge, which removed a mass of limestone in the first half of the 19c. There was a lime kiln in the Gorge, but most of the stone was removed by barge. It cut right through the line of the 18c inclined plane used to move rock from the surface of the Downs, but was itself halted by the construction of the Port and Pier Railway in 1863.
69 Gully Footpath. Zone 2. This official but unpaved path runs for 400 m from Circular road down the Victorian Steps to the Portway, through the Goat Enclosure. The steps first appear in a map of 1880. 70 Gully Quarry. Zone 2. This lies at the foot of the Gully, and, unusually, is strikingly vertical. The dates of its use are unknown.
71 Gully Ventilation shaft. Zone 2. This is one of two shafts ventilating the tunnel of the Clifton Down to Severn Beach railway line, opened in 1877.
72 Huntingdon Elm. Zone 3. Until 1976 Huntingdon Elms, a cloned form of the native Wych Elm, were the main species of several avenues on the Downs. Planted c 1880 they fell victim to the Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970. This tree is the last alive.
73 Ice-cream vans. There are three concession sites; Sea Walls; The Peregrine Watch Point; The Suspension Bridge.
74 Ladies Mile. Zone 3. Starts at the junction with Clifton Down this road runs up to a junction with Stoke Road close to the Water Reservoir, and was probably built in 1821. It was part of the toll road system, and replaced the old road running straight to the top of Stoke Road. The origin of the name is unknown, though it is only a kilometre long.
75 Ladies Mile Avenue. Zone 3. The avenue is 900 metres long, and until the 1970s was a complete and magnificent Huntingdon Elm avenue. The present avenue has four different lime species, existing Common Limes, Small-leafed Limes, Large-leafed Limes and Silver Limes.
76 Ladies Mile temporary Zoo car park. Zone 4. This site has been used for forty years by the Zoo with a license from the Downs Committee, for which it pays rent, and planning permission from the City. Its use is largely limited to August and major Bank Holidays, and when the Zoo turned its nursery garden into a carpark, c 2000, for a while it had less use. The Zoo seeks to ensure that the surface does not suffer.
77 The Mere Stones. These stones that are placed at roughly 200 metre intervals and run from the top of the Gully to close to the Water tower. They mark the Anglo-Saxon boundary between Clifton and Westbury parish. They are mentioned in a charter of 883, and demonstrate that the Downs was already open grassland. It was the Saxons who create the concept of a difference between farmed land, and common land, to which everyone had rights of pasture.
78 Mousehole Wood. Zone 2. This name is given to the woodland that in the past century has developed down the Avon Gorge slope to the Portway between Clifton Camp and Bridge Valley Road. It is all part of the SSSI. Early drawings make clear that in the 18th century this slope was largely bare.
79 New Hotwell path. Zone 2. This was a stepped track that linked the New Hotwell on the edge of the river Avon to what became Circular Road in 1872. The track largely followed the modern line of the southern fence of the Goat enclosure. 80 New ZigZag. Zone 2. This paved path runs for 300 metres from the top of Bridge Valley Road to the Portway. It used to be possible to walk along the Portway, but the extension of the bus lane now makes that impossible, so there is no exit.
81 Northern Stormwater Interceptor. Zone 2. This is a tunnel running from the River Frome at Junction 1 of the M32 under the Downs to an outfall below Sea Walls. There is a green access door close to Clifton Down by the Zoo at. The system was completed in 1962.
82 Observatory. Zone 1. In 1828 William West acquired the burnt-out tower mill built inside Clifton Camp in 1766 and destroyed in 1777. He added an astronomical telescope to it, dug down to the Giants Cave and installed the Camera Obscura. In 1940 there was a barrage balloon site close by.
83 Observatory Path. Zone 1. A paved path running up from Observatory Road for 150 metres through the outer ditches of Clifton Camp to the Observatory.
84 Peregrine Watch Point. Zone 2. In 1990 Peregrine Falcons returned to nest in the Gorge for the first time since 1940. The nest is usually on the Bristol side of the Gorge, but invisible. Birders gather on this site close to the first sharp bend on Circular Road to watch them and there is an information panel.
85 William Pitt Memorial obelisk. Zone 1. This obelisk on Clifton Green, close to Bridge Road was originally in the garden of Manilla Hall, and put up by Sir William Draper who had fought in the Seven Years War, capturing the Philippine islands. It was moved from his garden to the Green in 1883. 86 Playground. Zone 1. A children’s playground was created in the 1990s on the site of the Suspension Bridge quarry which had destroyed parts of the fortifications of Clifton camp. It was redesigned in 2015.
87 Port and Pier railway. Zone 2. Opened in 1863 this railway ran from the foot of the Suspension Bridge at to the pier at Avonmouth. It was standard gauge, and not connected to any other part of the railway system. Its construction involved tunnels, cuttings and embankments over saltmarsh. It continued to operate until 1922, when the Portway took over its function. The Severn Beach line was built alongside it.
88 Portway. Zone 2. This is technically the end of the A4, one of the original great road arteries of the land running from London to Bristol. This section was constructed in 1922, and was at the time the most expensive road in the country. The previous link to Avonmouth was by rail. It runs from the junction with Bridge Valley Road to the King Road roundabout in Avonmouth. It was temporarily closed 1978-1979 because of falling rocks.
89 Portway Canopy. Zone 2. This structure was built over the Portway in 1981 to absorb the impact of rocks falling from the Suspension Bridge buttress, and prevent them falling into the river 90 Portway Wood. Zone 2. This name is used to describe the SSSI wooded face of the Gorge, that has grown up over the past century to the west of Circular Road. It extends into the Goat enclosure.
91 Pound Ventilation shaft. Zone 4. One of two shafts ventilating the Clifton Down railway tunnel. It is close to the Pound and Pembroke Road.
92 Proctors Fountain. Zone 1. Alderman Proctor built this fountain on the site of the former Toll House, at the top of Bridge Valley Road. It was moved to its present site off Clifton Down, in 1987, as it was becoming a traffic hazard.
93 Promenade. Zone 1. The Promenade, a wide pedestrian path, perhaps originally seen as a copy of Pall Mall in London, runs parallel to Clifton Down from Clifton Camp down to the top of Bridge Valley Road.
94 Promenade Avenue. Zone 1. A complex Beech avenue, first mapped in 1840, runs up the Promenade. There is a double avenue along the east side of Clifton Down, and then a double avenue along the Promenade path. There are some 60 Beeches that are about 70 years old at the northern end and younger trees at the upper end.
95 Rangers Pound. Zone 4. In the past stray animals could be impounded on the common land until their ownership was established. The simple enclosure was taken over by the Downs Ranger when sheep grazing ceased in 1926, and is now the hub of park maintenance for NW Bristol.
96 Rare Plant garden. Zone 1. In 2006 this tiny strip of garden on the north side of the Suspension bridge was created with examples of several of the most famous rare plants of the Gorge including Autumn Squill, Bristol Onion, and Spiked Speedwell.
97 River Avon. How, when, and why the River Avon cut a 90 metre deep chasm through solid limestone rock is related to events in the last Ice age, when sea levels were 60 metres lower than today. Twice every day a maximum of 33 feet of tide sweeps up and down it. On rare occasions the tide has flooded on to the Portway under the Suspension Bridge.
98 Rockleaze and Downleaze avenue. Zone3. This 400m avenue runs from the junction with Ivywell Road to the bend in Downleaze. There are 35 Small-leaved Limes, all planted c 1980 to replace the Huntingdon Elms. It was first mapped in 1869.
99 Roman Road Avenue. Zone 5. The avenue of mixed Limes and Horse Chestnuts is approximately along the former line of the Via Julia. It runs from Stoke Road near the Water Tower for 150 metres to the Blackboy Roundabout. First mapped in 1890. 100 Running Circuit, 3.5km, Sea Walls loop. Zone 3. Runs around the edge of the Downs down Ladies Mile, round Circular Road, up Savile Rd, and back along Stoke Road.
101 Running Circuit, 2.0km, Water Tower loop. Zone 5. Runs along Roman Road, up Westbury Road, along Upper Parrys Lane, to Savile Road and back via Stoke Road.
102 Running Circuit, 850m, St Monica loop. Zone 7. Runs from Whitetree Roundabout up Westbury Road, back along the HaHa to Cote Lane and to Whitetree roundabout.
103 Saville Road. Zone 5. This road runs from the junction with Stoke Road to Parrys Lane. It was built in 1877, designed by Alderman Proctor.
104 Saville Road Avenue. Zone 5. An 800 metre avenue of Horse Chestnut trees lines both sides of the road. Some are dying and being replaced by Hungarian Oaks.
105 Sea Walls. Zone 3. A magnificent viewpoint over the Gorge and out to Wales. The wall was originally built by John Wallis in 1746, and displays the copper slag coping stones. This was a barrage balloon site in 1940. The area was also a cricket field. The first recorded match was in 1752, and it continued to be used until 1847.
106 Sea Walls Quarry. Zone 2. Also called Black Rock quarry. This is a favourite with rock climbers, as there is parking space
107 Sea Walls Road access gate. Zone 3. The north boundary of the Downs is mostly a wall, only breached by private garden gates. This site at the top of Sea Walls Road has a public gate to give access.
108 Sea Walls Toilets. Zone 3. The whole of the north-west side of the Downs was a tank depot for the American first army, and there were accommodation blocks and a mess hall built. After the war all the structure were removed, but a part of the mess hall retained to form these toilets.
109 Seven Sisters. Zone 5. A group seven Black Pines, of which three are left, were planted in 1872 on what might be a bronze age tumulus, to commemorate the infilling of the Westbury Road quarry. A replacement plantation close by is of Scots Pines.
110 Seven Years War, War Memorial. Zone 1. On Clifton Green close to Clifton Down Road. Originally set up in the garden of Manilla Hill by Sir William Draper to commemorate those who died in the capture of the Philippine islands. Removed to this site in 1883. Possibly the oldest war memorial in the country.
111 Sheep Trough. Zone 3. A memento of the 2000 sheep that once grazed the Downs. A water tank created by hollowing out a solid block of Pennant sandstone from the River Frome. That it survived the second world war is a miracle.
112 St Vincent’s Rocks. Zone 1. A chapel dedicated to St Vincent was mentioned in 1480 by William of Worcester. Its ruins were drawn in 1789, and it was probably destroyed by the creation of Bridge Road in 1831. The cliff face here has been visited by every significant British botanist since William Turner in 1562.
113. Stoke Hill War Memorial. Zone 3. Dedicated in 1920, this well-preserved cross is at the tip of the Downs at the top of Stoke Hill. Designed by WH Watkins.
114 Stoke Road bus shelter. Zone 4. This small wooden pre-war Bus Stop structure was recently renovated.
115 Stoke Road avenue. Zone 3. This 750m long avenue runs the full length of Stoke Road. It is a mixture of Common Limes, Horse Chestnuts, one of which is probably 150 years old, and Red Horse Chestnuts. It was first mapped in 1746.
116 Stoke Road Fountain. Zone 5. Built in 1877 from the profits of the 1874 Bath and West Show.
117 Suspension Bridge. Zone 1. Originally designed by Brunel, the foundation stone was laid in 1831 but the money ran out and it was finally opened in 1864 after Brunel’s death.
118 Suspension Bridge buttress. Zone 1. This is the 300 foot sheer cliff on which the eastern end of the Suspension Bridge rests.
119 Suspension Bridge coach drop off. Zone 1. Created in 2016, as car parking is very limited, and the Bridge Visitor Centre is on the far side.
120 Suspension Bridge Fountain. Zone 1. Cast iron, made in Glasgow, erected in 1866, paid for by the vicar of Christ Church. 121 Suspension Bridge path. Zone 1. Paved. Runs for 250 m up from Zion Hill, across Bridge Road to the top of Observatory Road at. It once had a Sycamore avenue along it.
122 Suspension Bridge Quarry. Zone 1. Now occupied by the Playground. Brunel had no qualms about destroying the Clifton Camp defences.
123 Suspension Bridge Toilets. Zone 1. A pretty Edwardian building.
124 The 360. Zone 1. Opened in 2017 after two years of work by the owner of the Observatory. It is an open-air café on the roof of the former observatory.
125 The Glen. Zone 5. This is the one quarry never filled. Quarrying ceased in 1876. In the 1930s there were tennis courts and a roller skating rink. In the 1950s it was the Locarno dance hall, and in the 1980s Tiffanies. The Spire hospital was built in c 2014.
126 The Gully Zone 2. Also known as Walcombe Slade, and now as the Goat Enclosure. This is a natural feature as in wet conditions a stream flows down from Circular Road. It has famed rare plants.
127 The Gully Viewpoint. Zone 2. This tiered view point off Circular Road, close to Sea Walls, was created in 2015 and is used by school groups, as the goats are very often on the opposite slope.
128 The Ha Ha. Zone 7. The boundary with St Monica’s is a deep ditch with a vertical wall to enable clear views of the gardens. It cannot be readily mown, and can become scrubby.
129 The Haven. Zone 5. This grade II listed shelter at the top of Blackboy Hill was built for convalescent soldiers from Victoria Hospital in 1917, and renovated by The Friends of the Downs and Gorge in 2017 with the help of Redland and Cotham Amenity Society and Maggie Shapland.
130. The Look-Out. Zone 1. This fine viewpoint was created in 1994 by the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society, and lies at the bottom of Sion Hill, next to the Zig Zag. The lectern gives the key details about the Suspension Bridge. In 1940 it was a Barrage Balloon site.
131 The Mousehole. Zone 2. This is an ancient unpaved track down the face of the Gorge from Clifton Down to the foot of Bridge Valley Road. The lowest section is a flight of steps looking over the site of the Port and Pier railway terminus. The crossing of the Portway is light-controlled, and there is access on the Avon side both north and south.
132 The Old Halt. Zone 3. This was originally an 18c coaching inn on the turnpike road running from Bristol through to Shirehampton. It lies on Downleaze, a 19c development.
133 The Poets Tree. Zone 1. This is a Black Poplar, a very odd species to find, which was used as a shelter by Peter Gabbitas in the Victorian era. He wrote doggerel poetry and sat beneath the tree to sell it. The tree was felled c 1990 perhaps as dangerous, but new shoots grow rapidly, and it is now again part of the canopy.
134 The Old Toll Road Avenue. Zone 3. The avenue runs for 800 metres along the line of the old road, abandoned in c 1770, from the junction with Ladies Mile to its junction with Downleaze. Until the 1970s it was an avenue of Huntingdon Elms planted c 1880. But they were killed by DED and replaced by Beech trees. It was first mapped by Wilstar in 1746.
135 The Promenade. Zone 1. This wide pedestrian way, which may have originally also been used for riding, was created at the same time as the line of very large mansions on the east side the Clifton Down, developed between 1832 and 1865. The Beech avenue makes a magnificent site especially in autumn.
136 The Rock Slide. Zone 1. This unofficial children’s slide has been created over hundreds of years by adventurous children. It is most slippery in hot dry weather. The area has an unusual variety of plant species.
137 The Roman Road. Zone3. This is the Via Julia, built c AD 60, the M4 of its day, coming from London Via Silchester and Bath to the town of Abonae, the port for Wales. The stretch through Stoke Bishop is still a right of way and the small section on the Downs is very clear in dry conditions. It was excavated in 1897.
138 The Tramway. Zone 2. This started life in the 18c as an inclined plane, linking the Avon with the Downs surface, and enabling quarried stone to be readily moved down to barges. The creation of the Port and Pier Railway in 1863 ended this. It began a second life in 1868 when a stationary engine was fixed at the top, pulling tubs of spoil from the enlargement of the Cumberland Basin docks which were then carted across the Downs on temporary rails to fill the surface quarries.
139 Trim Trail. Zone 4. Created in the 1980s this trail involved a number of exercises using basic wooden equipment, much enjoyed by children. Needs renovation.
140 The Tumps. Zone 4. The name is given to four ditches that run roughly north to South close to Upper Belgrave Road. They are believed to be 17c lead mines, following the veins of lead. It is odd that they were not levelled when the other major limestone quarries were in c 1870. Until 1950 they were free of scrub.
141 Upper Belgrave Road Avenue. Zone 4. An avenue runs for 400 m on the west side of the road from the junction with Pembroke Road to the junction with Stoke Road. Until the 1970s it was a Huntingdon Elm avenue, but they have been replaced by Small-leafed Limes. First mapped 1869.
142 Upper Parry’s Lane avenue. Zone 5. This avenue runs for 250m from the Westbury Road junction to the Savile Road junction. There are 17 Horse Chestnuts, the oldest probably planted C 1910. In 2016 six Hungarian Oaks were planted to fill gaps.
143 Upper Path. Zone 3. This is the northern paved pedestrian path, (cycling is banned) running ESE from Julian Road and Savile Road, for 750 metres to Blackboy Hill.
144 Uriah Thomas Fountain. Zone 3. On Blackboy Hill. It was built in 1904, paid for by public subscription, in honour of the man who ran Bristol’s school system for 30 years and was an advocate of female suffrage. 40,000 are said to have attended his funeral in Arnos Vale in 1874.
145 Victorian Steps. Zone 2. These steps run from just off Circular Road down to the Gully Ventilation Tower. They form the upper part of the path down the Gully which first appears on a map of 1880, and may have been related to the creation of the Severn Beach Railway. In 2016 they were renovated with the help of Neighbourhood Partnership money by the Friends of the Downs
146 Victorian Urinal. Zone 5. Blackboy Hill. An ornate grade II listed cast iron structure, still in full working order after perhaps 150 years.
147 Walcombe Slade. Zone 2. Now called the Gully or the Goat enclosure. Named Ewcombe by the Anglo-saxons. Young Yews are still common.
148 Water Reservoir. Zone 5. Built in 1848, by the Bristol Waterworks Company at the Downs highest point just off Stoke Road, this took fresh spring water from Barrow Gurney, which flows in an inverted siphon under the River Avon to a reservoir and pumping station in Oakfield Road. This provided clean water to the entire city, leading to a sharp drop in mortality and rapid population rise.
149 Water Tower. Zone 5. This was added in 1956 to provide better pressure to the massive urban development that the reservoir had enabled. In 1940 there was a former barrage balloon site close by
150 Water Tower Toilets. Zone 5. Separate toilets, of more or less identical exterior appearance, were built around 1900. The Northern one was turned into a café in c 2005.
151 Westbury Park path avenue. Zone 6. The paved pedestrian path runs for 300 metres from the junction with Westbury Road, to the junction with Westfield Park Road. The avenue is composed of very old Large-leaved limes, which appear to be around 200 years old, and are probably the oldest trees on the Downs.
152 Westbury Park Road avenue. Zone 6. The avenue of 21 Horse Chestnuts runs for 500 m from close to Whitetree Roundabout to the junction with Clay Pit Road. It was probably planted about 1870, and several trees have recently been replaced by Indian Chestnuts.
153 Westbury Road avenue. Zone 7. At 1400 metres, this is the longest avenue in Bristol, composed of Common Limes and Red Chestnuts. The oldest tree is a Large-leafed Lime with a four-metre girth suggesting it is 200 years old. The avenue runs from St Monicas to the Blackboy Hill roundabout. First mapped in 1746.
154 Whitetree Roundabout. Zone 7. The roundabout was created in 1949, but the first reference to the white tree was in 1869, when it was painted as a guide to a private drive. In 1973 it was an elm tree that died, and was replaced by a Small-leaf Lime which is kept white today.
155 Zigzag. Zone 1. Built in 1729, this steep path runs from Zion Hill down to the Portway, and originally the Hotwell. At the bottom there is a footpath along the Portway to the south, but not the north.
156 Zoo avenue. Zone 4. A Common Lime avenue runs from just outside the Zoo entrance for 180 metres to the top of Northcote Road. There are several gaps, and new plantings. There are nine old trees that probably date back to 1860.
157 Zoo Banks. Zone 4. The name given to the steep slope up on to the main downs surface that runs from Fountain hill to the Rangers pound. It is now heavily wooded, with a number of old exotic trees including Holm Oak and Turkey Oak, which are uncommon elsewhere, and a Monkey Puzzle, which is dying. There are also some veteran Ash and Oak. There is a lot of scrub because it is difficult to mow regularly.
158 Zoo North Car Park. Zone 4. In the 1960s this was still covered in grass, and the Zoo still pays rent for using it to the Downs Committee. Because it is part of the downs it cannot be covered in tarmac, and, though most of the Hawthorns and other trees have gone, those that remain are protected.
159 Zoo Crossing. Zone 4. This is a light controlled crossing from the foot of the Zoo path from the temporary car park off Ladies Mile to the Zoo entrance.