Physical Geography of Bristol

Situated 169km (105 miles) west of London and 39km (24 miles) east of Cardiff, Bristol is built around the River Avon. It also has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary, which flows into the Bristol Channel.

Bristol lies in a limestone area, which runs from the Mendip Hills to the south and the Cotswolds to the north-east. The Rivers Avon and Frome have sculpted this limestone to create Bristol's characteristic hilly landscape.

The River Avon flows from Bath in the south-east, through Bristol and into the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth. To the west of Bristol it has cut through the limestone to form the Avon Gorge. This feature helped protect Bristol Harbour, and has been quarried for stone to build the city. The city's other gorge lies in the Blaise Castle estate to the north.

The River Avon's gorge and estuary form the county's boundary with North Somerset. The land surrounding this gorge has been protected from development, as The Downs and Leigh Woods.