“Why would I want to leave Bristol?” you cry. And you’d be rightly confused: our city is one of the UK’s best and there is more than enough right here to keep you busy and amused all year long. However, a change of scene from time to time can do the world of good, I’m sure you’d agree—and there are some gertlush places nearby that you’d be mad to miss out on.
Weston (drop the “Super-Mare” now that you’re a local) is just half an hour away by train and provides everything you could want from a good old-fashioned day at the seaside. There’s a pier with rides and arcade games galore, as well as hotdog, candyfloss and doughnut stands. Miles of flat, sandy beaches make a nice change from Park Street and St. Michael’s Hill, and there’s even a sand sculpture festival that runs from April to September. Should the rain make an appearance, there’s also an indoor go-kart track, pottery painting and a “seaquarium”.
That’s right: home to the famous cheese we all know and love (and most thieved food item in halls – seriously, lock up your cheese), Cheddar is a totally stunning limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Just 45 minutes away from Bristol by car, Cheddar Gorge offers caving, rock-climbing and abseiling. You can also visit the Museum of Prehistory or take in the local wildlife on a two-hour cliff-top gorge walk.
One of the world’s most famous festivals takes place here every summer, but once the crowds subside and things return to normal, Glastonbury (an hour away from Bristol by car) is just a sleepy English town… with a hippy edge. Get your fill of crystals, dream catchers and incense in the town centre, then set off up the hill for stunning views over the surrounding countryside. For bonus points, stop off in Wells on your way back to Bristol. You may recognise this city (yes, really: the smallest in England) from cult film Hot Fuzz. Have a look round the cathedral, explore the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, and maybe grab a Cornetto from the corner shop.
Saving the best until last: Bath is just ten minutes from Bristol on the non-stop train, and full of culture and beautiful architecture. There’s so much to see, do and eat. Don’t miss the Bath Sweet shop, where the walls are lined with jars of old-fashioned gobstoppers, fruity bon bons, gummy bears and more. Pop into Sally Lunn’s across the street, one of Bath’s oldest houses, to sample one of the famous buns or indulge in a cream tea. The abbey is also worth a visit, as are the botanical gardens and the gorgeous Royal Crescent, an impressive row of Georgian houses. You can also learn about Jane Austen’s Bath, taste the spa water at the Roman baths (it’s just like Evian, promise), or simply shop till you drop at Southgate shopping centre.
Just make sure you return to Bristol after your big day out… your lecturers will miss you!