Walking the Bath Skyline


Before our children came along, a long walk was one of our favourite things to do. I love following a guided walk, ticking off the milestones, and feeling like you’re the only people around for miles. On our recent child-free trip to Bath, we’d been recommended the Bath Skyline walk as a must-do. It’s a 6 mile circular walk, which takes you around the West and South of Bath, offering fantastic views of the city centre. It also skirts around the edge of Prior Park, a National Trust landscape garden, which had been on my list to visit while we were there, so I was very keen, despite the drizzle which we awoke to on the Saturday morning.

Bath Skyline Walk leaflet
Yellow marker for Bath Skyline walk

The Bath Skyline walk starts at the junction of Bathwick Hill with Cleveland Walk. We parked up on Cleveland Walk (the permit holder parking restrictions end halfway up the road, near where the walk starts), and managed to head off in completely the wrong direction, back to the main road. Cue an argument when we realised over who hadn’t read the directions correctly (clue: it was my husband). Always a great start to a long walk! We headed back up the hill, towards where we’d parked in the first place.

The start of the walk is definitely an indication of what’s to come – it starts with a set of steep steps up to Sham Castle. Sham Castle was built in 1762 for Ralph Allen, and is visible from the city centre. Rumour says that it was built to improve the view from his home, which was located near Bath Abbey.

Woman stood in archway of Sham Castle in Bath
View of Sham Castle, with man stood in archway
Man stood looking at view of Bath on Bath Skyline walk

We headed into Bathwick Wood, and then Bathampton wood, which is home to the limestone quarries which supplied Bath’s distinctive stone for its building. The mist made the woods seem mysterious and fairytale-like.

Man walking through Bathwick Wood on the Bath Skyline walk, on a drizzly January day
Bathwick wood, with mist coming through the trees
Woman stood under arched tree in Bathwick Wood on Bath Skyline trail
Man sat on fallen tree trunk in Bathwick Woods on Bath Skyline walk

We emerged out of the woods to the vast open space of Bushey Norwood, and saw our first snowdrops of the year. We loved the stone stile as you emerged out of the woods (although if you don’t fancy it, there is an easier route through an opening just further along).

National Trust sign for Bathampton Down
Wooden gate at Bushey Norwood on Bath Skyline walk
Snowdrops emerging through leaf bed in Bathampton Woods
Man stood on stone wall stile on Bath Skyline walk

We wanted to take the detour to Prior Park, so headed down a very steep and muddy hill – almost falling over a number of times! But it was well worth the effort when we got down to Prior Park and saw the most beautiful Palladian Bridge. We also rewarded ourselves with a hot chocolate and cake from the tea shed in the grounds, which I highly recommend. I’m sure cake tastes even better after a 4 mile walk!

View down valley into Bath city centre
Palladian bridge at Prior Park in Bath
Man peering through hole in burnt out tree trunk

The last part of the walk through Smallcombe has some of the most spectacular views of Bath – it makes it well worth the aching muscles at this point! Even with the drizzle in the air, the views were breathtaking – so clear, and easy to pick out the famous landmarks of Bath’s city centre.

Woman stood in field, with view of Bath skyline in the background
View of Bath city centre from the Bath Skyline walk

We managed to make a wrong turn at this point, meaning we had to trek back up the steep hill, but we finally found ourselves back at the car, just in time for the heavens to open, and for us to head back to the hotel for a well deserved drink.

If you’re looking for a way to fill a day while visiting Bath, I highly recommend the Bath Skyline walk. It took us around 4.5 hours, including our mis-step at the start, and a leisurely stroll around Prior Park.

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