This month’s walk from Andrew Swift explores glorious but often overlooked countryside on the western edge of Bath, taking in beech woods, ancient villages and an idyllic riverside walk. There is also the opportunity to visit a landscape designed by Capability Brown – as well as a few other surprises.
Fact File Starting point: Newbridge Park & Ride BA1 3NB; ST718658 (Note: Parking is currently free, but there are proposals to introduce charges) Length of walk: 7 miles Approximate time: 4 hours Level of challenge: Some rough, steep and muddy paths; four busy road crossings; no stiles Map: OS Explorer 155
The walk starts at Newbridge Park & Ride (BA1 3NB; ST718658), where, if you head to the far end of the west car park (Car Park A), you will see a gate adorned with oars.
Go past it and turn left along a path. After crossing an access road, go through a low tunnel under New Bridge and carry on along the riverside path, crossing a footbridge over the entrance to a marina.
After 1170m you come to Weston Lock, opened in 1727 when a new cut was built to bypass Twerton Weir, as part of a project to make the river navigable to Bath. A little further on, just past the Flying Pig Renovation Company, turn right across Bridge 206 (ST726648) and follow a path across Dutch Island, created when the New Cut was built and named after the Dutch metalworkers who came over to work in a brass mill on the island. The site is now occupied by a bus depot, on the far side of which a bridge leads onto the Lower Bristol Road.
Turn right along the road for a few metres, cross at the traffic island, go through a tunnel under the railway and climb a path. Cross a road at the top, turn right along the pavement, and after 225m turn second right along Walwyn Close. Go down a stepped path at the end into Carrs Wood and turn left at the bottom. A little way along, the railway line below you disappears into a castellated tunnel. There are two such tunnels along this stretch of line. This one was built to hide the railway from the view of a mansion called Wood House. A few metres further on, if you look up to the left, you will see a flight of broken-down stone steps which led up to it. It was home to a local mill-owning family called the Carrs, after whom the wood is named, but in 1965, after the last of them had moved out, it was demolished.
Carry on along the path through the woods and go through a kissing gate (KG) at the end. Follow the faint track straight ahead alongside a line of trees. After 30m, just before a marker post, turn right along another track. After passing through the line of trees, turn left along a rough track leading to an information board above the entrance to the second tunnel (ST717652).
Carry on past the information board and turn right at a Circuit of Bath waymark to follow a track into the woods. Carry on along the main path (ignoring a narrow track heading up to the left), go through a KG at the end and turn right along a tarmac path. After a short distance, when the path bears left, turn right along a rough track, go through a KG in the hedge and head down through the woods. Cross a bridge over Newton Brook at the bottom and turn right to follow a footpath sign. Ahead of you lies Newton Mill, a former corn mill now incorporated into Bath Mill Lodge Retreat (ST716648). Before you reach it, however, turn left to follow a footpath sign up a steep grassy path between hedges.
At the top, go through a KG and head along a green lane which linked Newton Mill with Newton St Loe and is shown as Waltining Lane on old maps. After 700m it crosses another green lane, called Stony Lane, beyond which it becomes much wider, with trimmed hedges and rutted by the wheels of farm vehicles. This stretch of the lane is also above the level of the surrounding land and the views are extensive. The best view of all comes just after the lane starts dropping downhill – a superb panorama westward along the Avon valley.
At the main road, cross with care and head up a green lane to the right of a tarmaced lane (ST705649). At the end, carry on up a lane and turn right at the top to walk along Newton St Loe’s main street. The school on the left dates from 1698, while Stonewalls opposite, with a large ammonite incorporated in its porch, bears the date 1715 on a sundial. Carry on through the churchyard, go through a KG at the end and follow a fence down to another KG. Turn left down a lane and right at the T junction. Carry straight on as the lane dwindles to a tarmac path, and, after crossing the drive to Newton Park (now Bath Spa University), becomes a stony track.
125m along this stony track, you will see a KG on the left (ST695646). For an optional diversion – adding almost a mile to the walk, but well worth it – go through the KG to follow a permissive path past two lakes, with views up to 18th-century Newton Park and the 14th-century tower of the fortified manor that preceded it, before retracing your steps to continue the walk.
Carrying on along the stony track, go through a KG a few metres further on, turn right, and, after going through another KG, follow a track alongside the hedge. At the end, go through a five-bar gate and head down a rough lane which leads past the 17th-century magnificence of Corston Manor Farm.
At the main road, turn right, cross when you can see clearly in both directions and take the next turning left, following a sign for the post office. Carry on through the village and after 500m, when you come to the main road, turn right, cross at the traffic island, carry on and, just beyond the bus stop, turn left through a handgate.
Follow a path leading under one of Brunel’s little-known gems, Stone Wharf Underbridge. Once through it, turn right alongside the riverside path (ST698660). After 330m, both path and railway cross the Corston Brook, flowing down from the lakes at Newton Park. The path now curves away from the Great Western Railway and after 375m goes under a bridge which once carried the Midland Railway but now carries the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
Carry on along the riverside path for another 1400m and, when you reach New Bridge, climb steps to the road, cross the bridge (on a narrow pavement) and go down another flight of steps on the far side to return to the starting point.
Many more walks can be found in Andrew Swift’s Country Walks from Bath, published by Akeman Press; akemanpress.com.