- Get on your bikes and tackle the mountain bike trail in the park.
- Play the unusual sports of Foot Golf or Disc Golf around the golf course.
- Watch for Red and Fallow deer in the deer park.
- Take a trip on the miniature railway.
Once the home of the Smyth family, the Ashton Court Estate is now a historic park only 10 minutes or so from the centre of Bristol. Set in 850 acres, Ashton Court Mansion is a 16th century Grade I listed house surrounded by grassland, gardens, and woods that comprise the country park. The River Avon is on its eastern side, as are the suburbs of Leigh Woods and the Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve.
The mansion was used as a military hospital in the First World War; in the Second World War, it served as an army transit camp. The last of the Smyth family died in 1946, when the house fell into disrepair, before being purchased in 1959 by Bristol City Council. Much of the gardens were landscaped in the nineteenth century - look out for the sunken rose garden, which is particularly magnificent in the summer and spring.
There are two deer parks on the Ashton Court Estate - one of which was introduced over 600 years ago - as well as an activity hub, and two cafes, making it an ideal spot for your family to spend a day. Observe the grazing deer - keep your eyes peeled for Fallow and Red deer in particular - whilst you admire the magnificent oak trees and take in a breath of fresh air. Dogs are welcome, but be sure to keep them on leads, particularly in the deer park, and to be conscious of their behaviour around the deer. The park is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, thanks to the presence of rare woodland beetles, so be sure to bear this in mind, too.
Alternatively, there are two 18-hole pitch and putt golf courses on the Aston Court estate site on which members of the public can pay and play. The estate is also home to a miniature railway which is open on selected weekends throughout the year. You can also book onto the more adventurous and unusual sports of Disc Golf, which has similar rules to normal golf and is usually played around a golf course with 9 or 18 holes as players attempt to throw a disc at a target. Foot Golf can also be played on site, which is a combination of golf and football where players kick a spherical ball into a cup in as few shots as possible. There's also an orienteering course in the park, horse riding is available, and you can hire mountain bikes, so your family can plan an intrepid adventure around the glorious grounds of Ashton Court. If you're keen local runners, Bristol's weekly Parkrun event is also held onsite.
For those who wish to get an aerial view of the Ashton Court estate and mansion, or love hot air ballooning, be sure to visit Ashton Court when the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta takes place. As Europe's biggest hot air balloon event, you'll catch over 100 hot air balloons taking off at dawn and dusk, as well as benefiting from many trade stands, fairground rides, food stalls, and other entertainment. Best of all, it's free.
If you're searching for further inspiration for things to do with your family in Bristol, consider visiting Bristol Zoo Gardens in the city centre - don't miss the super cute red pandas or otters. Alternatively, if you're feeling nautical, head to Bristol Aquarium to be (almost) swimming with the fishes.
What to know before you go
- There are two on-site cafés, one of which is the popular Courtyard Café situated in the old stables of Ashton Court Mansion. They both serving freshly prepared sandwiches and a range of drinks and snacks, many of which are organic. There's indoor and outdoor seating available, and space for kids to play. Otherwise, pack a picnic, and make the most of the rolling grounds and gardens of the park for your family meal.
- Searching for food near Ashton Court estate? Urban Tandoor offers excellent Indian food, whilst Bird in Hand and The Chefs Table serve fantastic pub grub.
- Dogs are allowed across the park and site, provided they are on leads and care is taken around the deer.
- Ashton court estate is open all year round other than Christmas Eve and Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Eve and Day. From Monday to Sunday, the estate is open from 8am. Closing times of the Ashton estate differ throughout the year. In November, December, and January, closing time is 5.15pm; in February it's 6.15pm; 7.15pm in March and October, 8.15pm in April and September; 9.15pm in May, June, July, and August.
- There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities in the Courtyard Café. There are also accessible toilets in the Ashton Court Mansion itself.
- There's parking available on the estate, but note that it's free neither for general users nor Blue Badge holders. There's also Long Ashton Bristol Park and Ride very near the south edge of the park, which is an alternative parking option.
- Buses X3 and X4 will get you to the Ashton Court Estate from the centre of Bristol, as will the X9.
- Alternatively, if your family are feeling particularly active, you could walk from Bristol centre to the Ashton Court estate, which will take between 45 minutes to an hour depending on your route and speed. A particularly scenic route to take would go by the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
- The nearest National Rail station is Parson Street. Trains depart every half hour or so from Bristol Temple Meads Station, taking around five to six minutes to get to Parson Street. From there, it's around 30 minutes walk to Ashton Court Estate.
- A taxi will take you around 15 minutes to get from the centre of Bristol to the Ashton Court estate.
- You can always opt to cycle to Ashton Court park and estate by using National Cycling Route 33. This takes you on a traffic-free path from Queen Square in Bristol out of the city via Cumberland Road. You'll cross the River Avon, join Kennel Lodge Road, and enter Ashton Court. Bicycle parking is available onsite by the mansion and the deer park.