You might think that taking a dog for a walk around a cemetery is unusual, but this cemetery actively encourages visitors including the four-legged kind! The site was saved from a private developer building residential homes on it by an association of local peoples. They restored the Cemetery and fund its up keep with events and visitors.
“Arnos Vale has been re-established as a serene final resting place, a beautiful natural landscape, and a welcoming location that encourages visitors to celebrate life and remember those who’ve passed.”Arnos Vale | Cemetery Services, Woodland Weddings & Events
Arnos Vale Cemetery is a 45 acre space with lots to see and do (see here for a map). It is a short (circa 30 minute) walk or bus journey (circa 10 minutes) from Bristol city centre and harbourside (see here for details and opening times). They have:
- Self-guided walking tours
- Events such as guided walking tours, talks, exercise classes, exhibitions in the crypt, fairs, film nights and plays (check if dog-friendly before attending)
- Interesting graves, monuments, epitaphs and people
- Cafe with (delicious) coffees and cakes
- Gift shop
- Forest and nature classes for kids
- And, of course, burials
The special thing about this place is the personality. For example, they have hosted immersive outdoor plays where the audience walk around graves. To celebrate Valentines Day they showed Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’ film. On a separate occasion they celebrated the Mexican Day of the Dead (‘Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos’) with a talk about the cultural significance and then showed Disney’s Coco. All educational family events that the children loved. Best bit, it’s dog-friendly.
When you visit you should follow some basic rules:
- Respect the graves by keeping to the paths
- Keep your dog on a lead at all times and clear up after them
- Dogs aren’t allowed inside the café, but they’re welcome at the tables in the outdoor terrace
The Cemetery is interesting for you and your pooch (imagine all the smells), but they must be kept on a lead. You can burn off their excess energy with a run around Sparke Evans Park.
To reach the park you exit the main Cemetery entrance, cross the road and turn right (past the Bristol Blue Glass shop) till you reach Edward Road. Walk to the end of Edward Road and follow the path right, over the foot bridge and into the park. Your pooch can safely run off lead in this little walled park. To finish, walk along the river towards Totterdown Bridge (keep walking towards Bristol City Centre till you reach the bridge, turn left just before the bridge and up the steps) where you can potter back to the Cemetery.