Station: St Andrews Road
Trains: Usually hourly from Bristol Temple Meads. Some services operate from Weston-super-Mare.
Allow: About 1 hr 25 mins
Avonmouth is a busy place, noisy with traffic and construction works. Where trees and green fields once stood is, in all too short a space of time, converted into the charmless and characterless architecture of windowless distribution centres with their apparently inevitable acreages of tarmac parking areas. Where footpaths once wandered through copse and stream bank their replacement is, all too often, a ruler-straight four-lane highway flanked by impassable drainage channels.
Having said that, the area does have a long history of cultivation and modification by human activity. The remnants of some of those past activities can still be found in the odd corner. Human labour in sometimes unpleasant or dangerous occupations in the manufacture of munitions and their chemical constituents have left less of a mark beyond fading memories.
Plotting a walk in this place can have its own problems. Each industrial park may erect security fences without regard to the transit of walkers who have to detour round them.
Some things have improved. When I relocated to Bristol in the early 1970s, the all-engulfing residue of carbon black production and the constant bright yellow plume of zinc refinement were all too obvious; there wasn’t a hedgerow in the whole surrounding area that didn’t contain more than its share of dead trees. So, this walk is subject to variations – the route may have changes forced upon it
From St Andrews Road station (1) walk to the main road and turn left along the wide pavement.
Where this pavement ends, use the pedestrian crossing and, leaving St Andrews Road, (2) go straight along Kings Weston Lane signed Avonside Trading Estate Passing the tyre facility on the left and the lorry dealership on the right the forlorn remnants of a railway level crossing are passed (3).
Go past the first wind turbine on the left and a bit later turn left into Meerbank Road (4) with another wind turbine on the right. Pass this second wind turbine and the Superdrug distribution centre on the left and the Driver and Vehicle Standards agency also on the left.
Just before a roundabout, cross the road turning right down Lawrence Weston Road (5). Follow Lawrence Weston Road to pass a third wind turbine. The roadway here is lined on both sides by rather full drainage ditches usually topped with chickweed. Take a slight bend to the right and then left between the vast Amazon distribution centre on the left and Wessex Water sewage facility on the right.
Pass a third turbine on your left. Ahead of you is the M49 and an underpass leading to Lawrence Weston should you choose to go that way. However, we turn right after passing a fourth turbine, through the gap on the left side of a metal farm gate that opens into a field (6).
The footpath is in a straight line at right angles to the road we have just left, following a line of electricity pylons, parallel to the sewage works fence and a strong smell.
The footpath and grass surface across this field is badly eroded by heavy use of trail and quad bikes. It ends in two linked steep slopes created by these vehicles. Ascent on foot was difficult in dry weather: in wet probably impossible. To bypass, head to the left, towards the M49 and ascend here.
On the reverse of this slope are eroded wooden steps down to a service road (7) which connects two fenced off areas. There is a large vehicle gate to the right. The footpath runs from the left hand end of this gate and follows the outside edge of the metal fence along the western edge of the sewage facility.
This footpath does not get a lot of traffic and in places is very overgrown. It has been cleared in the past and can be walked but only with difficulty when overgrown. The metal fence provides useful support when fighting through the undergrowth.
Eventually, you will come to a signposted gap in a wooden fence and emerge onto another service road. Here turn left to reach Kings Weston Lane again (8). There are signs here telling have just left the Bristol Bioresources and Renewable Energy Park by Gate B.
Cross to the other side of Kings Weston Lane and turn left. Unfortunately, it is not possible at this point to cross the Kings West Rhine to a cycle path parallel to the roadway. Walk on the right hand edge of Kings Weston Lane, facing the traffic.This is a busy road linking Avonmouth with Kings Weston but the road here is straight and reasonably wide so danger from vehicles should be minimal. In 200m or so, off on the right, is a row of tall poplar trees lining Ballast Lane.
Just before reaching the same line of pylons again, turn right along the poplar lined track (9) of Ballast Lane. This will take you in a straight line to an access road between Avonmouth Way on the left and the large depot buildings on the right.
Cross this access road (10) and continue along Ballast Lane. After Ballast Lane crosses Shirehampton Rhine by a small bridge (11) it comes to an end with a large willow that has presumably been felled to prevent vehicle access. Pass this tree by the gap to the left and enter a wide field with what appears to be a circular trail bike circuit. Veer to the right and go through a wide gap in the hedge. Continue straight ahead to meet a tarmac cycle/footpath. Turn left and emerge onto Avonmouth Way (12) via a pinch point.
Turn right along Shirehampton Way and keep on the right hand side to the next big roundabout (13). Use the pedestrian lights on the west side of this roundabout to turn to the left along Crowley Way which is the end of a spur off the M5.
After the pedestrian crossing, on Crowley Way continue to the left along a foot/cycle path till Nisbets “National Catering Equipment Centre” is on your right. Here, turn right down St Brendan’s Way (14). This road bends to the right and then to the left where it is blocked to vehicle traffic but continue to the end where it emerges onto the very much quieter end of St Andrews Road opposite Avonmouth Park (15).
In the days before the extensive new road system was built through Avonmouth, air quality monitoring equipment proved that this was then the most highly polluted place in Britain.
Turn left and follow the park railings to the right along Avonmouth Road. Near the far end of the park cross Avonmouth Road by the pedestrian crossing, then turn right and left down Gloucester Road to reach Avonmouth train station (16).
Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the route description, FoSBR cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions, or for changes in the details given. Hedges, footpaths and fences can be moved and redirected. Paths can become slippery, boggy and dangerous in wet and wintry weather. Take special care when crossing major roads.
Check for service disruption before setting off.
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