Coombe Dingle, Bristol

The River Trym cuts across North West Bristol, a tiny stream in a huge gorge, which speaks eloquently of the way that melting ice carved up the landscape fifteen thousand years ago.

There is a little car park at Coombe Dingle, approached down a tiny lane with a steep hairpin bend and over a small stone bridge. Before 1800 this was the main route from Stoke Bishop to Henbury. The stream can be little more than a trickle, but rises rapidly after storms as it picks up all the water from the M5 and Cribbs Causeway. The water is pretty clean and a Dipper has bred here at least once, and there are often Grey Wagtails too. From the car-park there is a fine path, paved with lottery funding, and part of a cycle network, which climbs slowly up past massive Poplars clothed in mistletoe. Recently houses have been built on the top of the Gorge, with gardens that slope steeply down to the parkland. At the top of the path you look across to a confluence where the Hen stream meets the Trym which comes in from Westbury on the right. There is a mini weir and waterfall here, and just below a shallow pool enjoyed by children in the summer.

The path runs on, the Gorge closes in on either side, the steep wooded slopes full of ancient Oaks, and there is a little bridge, perfect for pooh-sticks before you reach a large pond and a huge Wellingtonia, all part of the Blaise estate. On the far side of the pond is a strange tree with dozens of smaller trees that arose from suckers. This is the Caucasian Wingnut, an ancient species that can be found in the fossil record from millions of years ago. It has seeds that hang down like beads, and there are only one or two others in the city.

From this point there are several paths that you can take, and we will visit them another day.