Bath at your feet with Anne Twitchett.
This walk starts at Weston All Saints Church, Weston and finishes at Bath Abbey, a distance of approximately three miles with paths through woodland, fields, footpaths and pavements, no stiles and a bit of uphill!
Introduction. Outside Weston All Saints Church (BA1 4BT) on the Cotswold Way, signposted with an acorn.
On this glorious walk, we will be enjoying some of the finest urban panoramas possibly in the world and experiencing up close fabulous Georgian architecture and a constellation of crescents; we will trace the beauty of Bath’s landscapes with its contours which informed the planning of the redesigned 18th Century City, two of Bath’s six Outstanding Universal Values of World Heritage Status.
Hear more about Weston village and the Cotswold Way.
Leave the Church, following the Cotswold Way sign, ascending Church Road and crossing Purlewent Drive through a gate and onto the field turning right onto Primrose Hill.
Stop 1. A view looking to the southern slopes of Bath. For the best view, stand to the west (nearest Weston village) of the field nearer to the southern hedge.
We are looking in a south westerly direction. In the foreground you will see the large Royal United Hospital site. This moved here from the city in 1932 to the site of the former manor house belonging to the family of Dr William Oliver of water biscuit fame… (also available chocolate coated!).
Looking to your right, you should see Kelston Round Hill (topped with a clump of trees) and beyond it Saltford and Bristol. Beyond the RUH, you are looking in the direction of south Bristol. Further afield and straight ahead, you should see the Mendips and if you can pick out the Mendip TV mast, you are looking towards Wells. To your immediate left after that, you will see the hill rising towards Southdown and Whiteway and Bath City Farm. To the East is Oldfield Park and then East again you are looking towards Claverton Down and the direction of University of Bath.
This is a Jurassic limestone landscape. Hear more about the geology and how it’s affected the landscape and the city.
Leave the field by the gate on the lower path leading into a shadier area. It is a lovely walk which will begin to climb. We are heading for Summerhill Road, Sion Hill with Bath Spa University on your left. We are heading for the Doric House on the cross roads with Winifred’s Lane and Cavendish Road (BA1 2UF). Find a safe spot to stand away from the traffic!
Stop 2. The Doric House.
The Doric house was built in 1805 for the painter Thomas Barker. Here is his self-portrait (you can see the real thing in the Museum of Wales).
Hear more about about Thomas Barker who was heavily influenced by Gainsborough, indeed their works are often confused.
Take the steep steps on your left (Sion Hill direction) which leads to Somerset Place.
Stop 3. Somerset Place stopping by the wonderful ‘broken’ pediment and the ice men above the doors.
Hear more about the design and history of Somerset Place.
William Hogarth, the influential painter (self-portrait below) popularised the crescents.
William Hogarth, The Painter and his Pug, 1745 Tate (N00112), digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)
Walking along the serpentine of buildings we see the high drama of the Northern Slopes set against the most beautiful borrowed landscape, the southern slopes and the World Heritage City of Bath. Altogether we have a coherence of Lansdown Place West, Lansdown Crescent and Lansdown Place East, Hogarth’s beautiful curve!
We will cross over the road to continue our walk in front of the former Landsown Grove Hotel. Take care crossing the busy Lansdown Road and enter Lansdown Grove heading towards St Stephen’s Road.
Stop 4. St Stephen’s Road, the downhill stretch!
We take a quick pause to hear about Heathfield and the original route out of the city.
You will see a bench with a lovely view over the City. Take the old packhorse route down a steep track which takes you down to a busy corner of Camden Crescent and Lansdown Road.
On your stroll down the hill, you will come to an area known as Belvedere, one of the earliest of developments of the new upper town.
Builders here had plenty of challenges with unstable land. You will pass a building, Fountain House. It was built on the site of a spring or fountain of a former chapel from the Middle Ages. The chapel was consecrated to St Werburgh, a Saxon Princess who helped resurrect a goose! At this point the glorious Medieval Bath Abbey should be in view, our final destination (BA1 1LT). Carry on downhill with the shortest route via Broad Street.
Thank you for joining us on this virtual and hopefully physical walk.