Brandon Hill Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Access for wheelchairs from Great George Street and Berkeley Square only.
Access from numerous points. Some steps and slopes, mainly easy access. Access for wheelchairs from Great George Street and Berkeley Square only.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to August
About the reserve
Brandon Hill nature reserve is over 30 years old! Avon Wildlife Trust were a pioneering organisation in the urban conservation movement and in 1980, the Trust partnered with Bristol City Council to transform five acres of urban parkland on Brandon Hill into a haven for wildlife - Brandon Hill nature reserve was born.
Brandon Hill is a fuelling station for migrating birds, a prominent green oasis as they follow the river valley. In winter, it shelters flocks of redwings and fieldfares, who are escaping the freezing conditions in Northern Europe. In summer, the park is awash with cowslips, oxeye daisies and knapweed, which attracts butterflies and bees all summer long. Come spring, the wildlife pond is full of frogspawn and toads, which are seen migrating across the pathways. Foxes and pipistrelle bats can be spotted in the early evening and breeding finches, tits, thrushes and warblers sing from the woodland edges.
The top of Brandon Hill commands a stunning view of the city towards the River Avon, before the river takes a sharp bend to the north to flow through the Avon Gorge, where you can find our Bennett's Patch and White's Paddock nature reserve.
History Brandon Hill is thought to be the oldest public park in the country. Granted to the council in 1174 by the Earl of Gloucester, it was sublet to farmers for grazing until 1625 when it became a public open space. It was then used for activities including hay-making and clothes drying! During the Civil War, Brandon Hill was a key point in the defence of the city and there are remains of a fort and earthworks to the west and south of the Cabot Tower.