May is National Walking Month, a celebration of the benefits of walking on our minds, bodies and neighbourhoods. To help you get outside and explore the city on foot this May, our Welcome Ambassadors share their favourite walks in Bath…
A Cotswold Way Walk
“The Cotswold Way is a well-marked 102-mile National Trail that runs from Bath to Chipping Campden, and passes within 100 yards of my home in Weston Village.
“I can head away from Bath, climbing Dean Hill and Kelston Roundhill to take in the stunning views across Bath, Keynsham and Bristol, on to Prospect Stile, from where you can see the Black Mountains in Wales on a good day! A little further will take me past an Iron-Age hill fort at Little Down to Sir Bevil Grenville’s Monument on the site of the English Civil War Battle of Lansdowne.
“Alternatively, I can head towards Bath and either continue into the heart of our beautiful city, or take a short diversion into the Primrose Hill Community Woodland. This 24-acre site is planted with over 20,000 trees and shrubs, providing a haven for wildlife, especially butterflies and birds. It is a wonderful place to visit for a walk or a picnic, and the field which sits between the Cotswold Way and the woods is my favourite spot to look out over Bath and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine!”
A Skyline Stroll
“Just a short walk from the city centre, set in the hills above Bath, is the wonderful Bath Skyline Walk. This six-mile National Trust trail is by far my favourite walk in Bath.
“As you are in the hills, the views throughout are simply stunning, and every season brings different delights. Many times I have popped on a good podcast and taken myself on the Bath Skyline Walk, to take in the sites, smell the wild flowers and unwind.
“Whatever the weather or time of year, this is a must-do for those visiting Bath with an interest in walking – and great views!”
A Hill Hike
“There are numerous walks around Bath that take you up the city’s various hills, and they all offer amazing views that make the climb worthwhile.
“You can get to Kelston Roundhill via the grounds of Bath Racecourse, from where you overlook Bristol, with a view of the Severn Bridge on a clear day.
“My most recent favourite has to be Little Solsbury Hill. The 360-degree view from the top is just stunning. There are several routes up, which can be found on any footpath app or an OS map.”
An Amble to Camden Crescent
“The Royal Crescent is undoubtedly beautiful, but there are several other Georgian crescents worth exploring in our lovely city.
“Whenever I have visitors to stay who want to walk a little further, I lead them up Walcot Street, through Hedgemead Park and up to Camden Crescent, where they can enjoy a super view of the city.
“This crescent was designed by John Eveleigh, and work started on it in 1788. Its original name was Upper Camden Place, named after the Marquis of Camden, and the street gets a namecheck in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, as the Elliot family rent lodgings there.
“There are intriguing stone carvings above each door along Camden Crescent. The Camden family crest is an elephant’s head, so the stonemasons were instructed to carve an elephant above each door – clearly, many of them had never seen such an animal!
“Another interesting fact about Camden Crescent is that the position of the ‘central feature’ of the crescent is actually not in the centre! After most of the crescent had been built, there was a landslip, and the eastern end had to be abandoned.
“After enjoying the view, you can meander back down into the city via Lansdown Road, or climb up a little further to enjoy a third crescent: Lansdown Crescent.”
A Canal Adventure
“One of my favourite walks from Bath leaves behind the city’s stunning architecture and focuses on the industrial heritage in our area.
“The Kennet and Avon Canal was created by John Rennie, one of the foremost eighteenth-century engineers. It links the River Avon in Bath with the River Kennet at Newbury, and then onwards to the River Thames, and London.
“The walk begins from a point behind Bath Spa Station, where a small stone over bridge indicates the canal entrance from the river. The towpath is well maintained, and takes you gently up through the flight of locks running almost secretly behind a terrace of houses. Allow time to admire the many examples of industrial architecture, especially the delicate wrought-iron over bridges. A pleasant time can also be spent observing any narrowboats negotiating the locks.
“This is a pleasant walk in itself, but the more energetic and adventurous can continue for many miles along the towpath, only taking care to cross the one or two roads that must be negotiated. The scenery becomes ever more rural as you leave the city behind, and the canal-side George Inn in Bathampton is a good refreshment stop.
“There are many other points of interest if you wish to continue still further, including a lovely stone aqueduct and several more canal-side pubs (Those early boaters were thirsty people!)”
A Waterside Wander
“My favourite walk starts and ends at Bath Spa Station. It’s a flat, easy route to take when you would like a change from city streets and climbing.
“Cross the bridge behind Bath Spa Station and head along Widcombe Parade, where you can pick up a takeaway coffee. At the end of Widcombe Parade, cross the road to the Co-Operative, and then turn left and then right onto the footpath that runs alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal.
“Continue to stroll along the canal, crossing over the road and back onto the path at a couple of points, and the city bustle will soon be replaced with birdsong. Once you arrive at Sydney Gardens, you can head off the canal path to The Holburne Museum, which offers another refreshment opportunity.
“Head across the road to Great Pulteney Street, walking along to Pulteney Bridge and taking the stairs on the left to the Riverside Walk, which runs alongside the River Avon. From here, you can take in views of Bath and the weir, and amble towards Widcombe, crossing the bridge back to the station.”
A Meander to Bathampton
“I like to walk the canal towpath from the Deep Lock at Widcombe to the George Inn in Bathampton.
“There are two tunnels, one under Sydney Road and one under Beckford Road; there is a special moment when you emerge from the second tunnel and suddenly the landscape opens up, bright and green, and you get a breath-taking view of Solsbury Hill in the distance – I can still remember the first time I saw it.
“Another thing to look out for, about 50 metres on from Deep Lock, is the cast-iron sundial made by artist Alan Dun. It was made to celebrate 200 years of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 2010, and the lettering on the sundial tells you the names of all the goods that were transported through Bath via the canal.”