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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.