Andrew Swift stays close to the city this month, following a short walk that discovers some less explored areas in Lansdown, passing through Hedgemead Park, Richmond Lane, St Stephen’s Millennium Green and High Common
This month’s walk, starting in the city centre, explores some lesser-known corners of Lansdown. Given that many footpaths will be mired in mud at this time of year, it sticks to pavements or hard surfaces throughout, although there are a number of steps, along with stiff climbs and equally steep descents with uneven paving. So you will need to watch your step. But the views, and the fun of discovering parts of Bath you may not have come across before, should make it worthwhile. And, while the walk is only three and a half miles long, it is bracing enough to work up a decent appetite – or thirst – so it could be an ideal prelude to a leisurely lunch or a reviving drink when you return to the city centre.
Start off by heading up Broad Street and continue on up Lansdown Road. Just past the Julian Road/Guinea Lane crossroads, turn right through the gates of Hedgemead Park.
This area, originally known as Edgemead, was covered with rows of terraced cottages in the early 19th century. The ground, however, was unstable and, between the 1860s and the early 1880s, a series of landslips led to the abandonment of the entire site, after which the council decided that the only thing to do was to turn it into
After passing a playground, take the upper path past a bandstand. Climb a short flight of steps up to a gate, go through another gate and head up to a flight of steps leading onto a lane. Bear left for a few metres, before bearing right along a level road, with Camden Crescent high above you.
At the end, carry straight on up Gay’s Hill, passing a sign, dating from around 1819, for an ‘Asylum for the Maintenance and Instruction of Young Females in Household Work’. At the top, cross and carry on up a steep lane, which soon dwindles to a footpath. Just before it curves right, turn to take in a view across to Prior Park. At the top turn right along a level path and, after going past a gate at the end, bear left up steps. A gap in the trees partway up gives a good view across to Bathampton and Farleigh Downs, Bathwick, the Avon valley and Combe Down. At the top bear left up a final few steps and turn left up a lane.
After 75m, bear left past bollards and follow a path alongside a hedgerow. When you come to a road, carry on downhill in the same direction, and after 130m follow the road as it bears right past Mount Beacon House.
Take the first right up Richmond Lane and after 30m turn left to follow a footpath through allotments to St Stephen’s Millennium Green. Turn left down a road at the end, and after 75m bear right along a footpath across an open space. At the end, turn left down Lansdown Road, cross at a traffic island just past St Stephen’s Church, and after another 60m turn right up a couple of steps to head along a path. Go down steps at the end, turn right along Upper Lansdown Mews and follow it round to emerge on Lansdown Crescent.
Turn right downhill past Lansdown Place West and carry on in the same direction, passing Somerset Place on your right. At the crossroads, cross and head straight on up Sion Hill, taking the pavement on the left-hand side.
After 200m, turn right through a gateway along Sion Road. At the top, bear left along Sion Hill Place, and follow the road as it curves past one of Bath’s least-known Georgian terraces, designed by John Pinch and built between 1818 and 1820. At the end of the terrace, turn right to head back along Sion Road, and after going through the gateway turn right to continue along Sion Hill.
After 60m, turn left by a wall letterbox down Sion Hill. When the road curves right, bear left to follow a Cotswold Way sign down a footpath. After 175m, turn left to follow a path across High Common, with a particularly memorable view of Cavendish and Lansdown Crescents.
At the end, instead of heading onto the road, bear right to follow a path back across High Common, with views down to the back of Marlborough Buildings. At the road, follow the zebra crossing through a gateway into Royal Victoria Park and take the road leading downhill. After 175m, turn left along a lane, and, when you come to a road, cross and turn uphill for a couple of metres before turning right along a footpath below Royal Crescent.
At the end, carry on along the Gravel Walk (where you can visit the Georgian Garden partway along) and, after going down the steps at the end, turn left to Gay Street and then right down to Queen Square.
Andrew Swift is the author of On Foot in Bath: Fifteen Walks Around a World Heritage City and co-author, with Kirsten Elliot, of Ghost Signs of Bath