There are too many villages to mention to the south and west of the city, in addition to Long Ashton, which we have given its own section, due to its size and proximity. However many other villages are very accessible, and appeal in many and various ways. Backwell, Flax Bourton, Yatton, Brockley, Barrow Gurney, Churchill and Congresbury are broadly to the south west on the way to Weston-super-Mare; Failand and Wraxall are to the west, in the direction of the town of Nailsea and seaside town of Clevedon to the west; Dundry, Winford, Pensford, Bishop Sutton, Chew Stoke, and Chew Magna are to the south; Abbots Leigh, Portbury and Pill en route to Portishead to the north west. Apologies to any villages not given a nod – there are many other charming villages in these areas, but many are home to only a handful and too numerous to mention.
Clevedon is a highly sought after seaside town 12 miles to the west, with extensive shopping facilities, both in terms of coffee shops, café bars and restaurants, as well as national chains and supermarkets. Its trump card of course is that it is by the sea! It rose to prominence in Victorian times as a holiday destination and home to the affluent. In recent times it has been further rejuvenated with a significant overhaul of the grade 1 listed Pier, and the marine lake restored to previous glory, enabling swimmers to take advantage of sea water without the tidal dangers. Great swimming in the height of summer evenings with the westerly sunsets on show right in front of you. Regular buses to Bristol and Portishead, plenty of walks, including a c.3 hour relatively level coastal walk to Portishead, and a Victorian cinema. Plenty of good primary schools and Clevedon secondary school (rated ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted 2011). En route are Failand, home to many walks and bordering National Trust country estate Tyntesfield, and Tickenham, with its public golf course, country walks and garden centre.
Portishead is a much developed seaside town 10 miles to the west, with a wonderful lakeside grounds with lake (boat hire available), children’s play area, café, cricket pitch and picnic area, with the rejuvenated community run outdoor swimming pool a very popular spot for sunny days. The big change in recent years is the marina, with 00s of new homes, shops and bars, adding to its appeal. A scenic riverside cycle path leads back into Bristol under the Clifton suspension bridge. Leigh Woods is just across the suspension bridge from Clifton with some stunning Gothic and Victorian style homes, and Abbots Leigh a smaller village, with wonderful walks, a pub, a 15th century church and village hall. Clifton College sports ground offers a range of all-weather pitches for tennis, football, hockey, with an indoor ‘bubble’ for various sports as well as a bar and other facilities (available for private hire). Both villages will be found on the road towards Portishead to the west.
The villages of Chew Stoke, West Harptree, Bishop Sutton and Chew Magna wrap around Chew Valley Lake, a 1200 acre reservoir, popular for fishing, picnicking or visiting the café as a tourist for a peaceful afternoon. Blagdon Lake is a much smaller manmade lake, owned by Bristol Water, 1.5 miles to the west of Chew Valley Lake. Chew Magna is the largest of the local villages, 9 miles from the city centre, and 6 miles from Bristol Airport, home to around 1200 residents, with a primary school, adjacent secondary school, several shops and small businesses, 3 churches and 4 pubs. It has been described as ‘probably the greenest parish in Britain’ with its ongoing Go Zero project for sustainability and zero waste.
Backwell is 7 miles south west of the City centre, and is very well served with local amenities, including secondary school, swimming pool, community parish hall, playing fields offering tennis, football, and bowls clubs, doctors, dentist, post office, various takeaway outlets, bakery, several pubs and a cash machine. A few miles to the south will take you to Congresbury and Churchill, the former with local shops, public golf course, pub and huge Wyevale garden & shopping centre; the latter with secondary school (Ofsted 2014 rated ‘outstanding’), local shop and the glorious Crown pub for good beer and great value home cooked pub grub, not to mention some beautiful walks. Between the two is Wrington, with its much admired Walled Garden and restaurant. Cyclists can take their bike from any of the south Bristol stations to Yatton, and immediately join the Strawberry line, an old disused railway line now cycle path to Cheddar.