The argument has long raged. What is the best free activity in Bristol? Whether looking for something to do after an expensive night-out with mates or trying to impress a date without breaking the bank before payday, the city is chokka with cheap options. From museums and galleries to beautiful views and city farms. Bristol has us sorted every day of the week.
But only one place has everything else beat. Up by Clifton Observatory and overlooking the Suspension Bridge, you’ll find something that ticks all three boxes of what we’re after. Thrilling, beautiful and free, Clifton’s natural rock slide has thrilled locals for decades – maybe even centuries.
While no one knows the true history of this strip of rock, we do know it has been made shiny and smooth by generations of bums heading down. Whoever went down first started a trend that has long outlived them. There’s no official access to slide, as you’ll have to climb under or over the pathway fence. But it’s impossible to miss the people lining up to watch or risk heading down themselves.
The Slidey Rock, as it is locally known, is not entirely safe either. So be careful on the way down. We’ve known a few to scrape their behinds or break a finger with a miss-angled leap. Nowhere else in the city can match these levels of exhilaration. Once you get a taste of the fun, you’ll be hiking back up to queue again. Of course, not everyone will want to risk their life for a few seconds of joy. But the often calamitous attempts are worth heading over to watch anyway.
Some of Bristol’s other-most wonderful attractions are also in the area. The view overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge is the best in Bristol and, arguably, one of the greatest in the UK. While just behind you, you can enjoy Clifton Observatory.
For £5 – not free but still incredibly cheap – you can gain access to one of only three working camera obscura’s in the UK. Think of it as a Victorian CCTV that lets you overlook the surrounding area in real time. While you also have access to climb the depths of Giant’s Cave – home to the local legend of Goram and Ghyston – and see views of the Avon Gorge from halfway down the cliff face. Now that’s a cheap jam-packed day sorted for you.