Photo by Beth Weston, courtesy of Dyrham Park

South Gloucestershire

The county of Gloucestershire begins in the north Bristol suburbs, where the landmarks of urban industry gradually give way to the mellow beauty of the Cotswold countryside

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Industrial might

On the edge of the city, Bristol’s aeronautic industry is celebrated at Aerospace Bristol, where an original Concorde is the centre of a shiny new museum dedicated to the history of flight. More of our engineering past can be explored at the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust with its impressive collection of aero engines.

At Ram Hill Colliery, see the shaft, bunkers and the remnants of a steam engine house at a restored Victorian coal mine set in woodland near Coalpit Heath. And at the Kingswood Museum, discover the story of William Champion’s Zinc and Brass Works, one of the largest industrial sites in Europe in the 18th century.

In the sticks

Soon the city melts into the southern edges of the Cotswolds, the second largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales (only the Lake District is larger). Explore its natural landscapes and mellow stone villages on sections of the 100-mile Cotswold Way, a popular walking trail that begins (or ends) at Bath Abbey.

On the edge of Bath, visit the National’s Trust’s Dyrham Park, a 17th century baroque mansion set in an ancient deer park. The road north continues to the Saxon settlement of Malmesbury and the burial site of Athelstan, the first King of England. Or head towards the Severn Estuary and Berkeley Castle, noted for its royal connections (this is where the ill-fated Edward II met his grisly end).

In the Severn Vale, explore the so-called ‘Forgotten Landscape’, where two epic suspension bridges span the estuary into Wales and a curious landscape of cliffs, marshes and abundant wildlife is woven with stories from the Iron to the Nuclear age.

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