It was 9.30 as I parked my car on Park Street in Bristol, hoping to do a spot of Saturday morning shopping, until I realised that the shops didn’t open until 10. I’d liberated a whole half hour from my day, but how to use it? Rather than sit in a coffee shop I decided to walk past the classical church of St Georges and into Brandon Hill Park to make the most of the beautiful day. I’d heard that Cabot Tower had been renovated and was now open, so this was my chance to climb to the top for a view over Bristol.
The tower is named after John Cabot, the Genoese explorer who set sail from Bristol in 1497 for North America on his ship, the Matthew. You can see his statue on the quayside outside the Arnolfini art gallery looking towards the Bristol harbour where a replica of the Matthew can often be seen sailing up and down on highdays and holidays.
I hope you enjoy the video below about Cabots Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol
(By the way I shot this video on my iPhone)
John Cabot landed on the shores of Newfoundland and to commemorate his voyage 400 years later, the tower was built and opened to the public in 1898. However, by 2007 cracks were appearing in the stonework so it was closed on safety grounds and repairs went on for four years until Cabot tower re-opened last year in August 2011.
The garden that encircles the mound on which Cabot tower sits has been very nicely landscaped with paths, shrubs and Japanese style pools and bridges. I remember we came up here to watch the fireworks in the harbour one New Year’s eve but didn’t stay long as it was so cold and rainy. On a sunny spring day it was a much more pleasant prospect, so I followed the path up to the doorway at the back of the tower and climbed the stone steps to the first viewing platform. Up here were three viewing balconies at each side with the stairs on the fourth side, but I climbed up more steps to the upper viewing platform where the views were panoramic.
At my back were the painted houses leading up to Clifton Village, coming around to the SS Great Britain in the harbour, then the semi-circular building of the Council House and the tower of the Bristol University Wills Building. With the birds twittering around me and the sun shining it was an attractive sight to see Bristol laid out before me, a mixture of old and new buildings and the green Mendip Hills rising beyond the Bristol boundaries. I love living in a city with edges where the countryside is just a bird flight away.
I highly recommend you climb the Cabot tower and see the panorama of Bristol – it’s completely free and open every day.
More things to see in Bristol
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