Last weekend I rounded off my two-and-a-half weeks in the Southwest in Bath. This was to share further birthday celebrations with my friend, Ann, and the combination of Bath and a Landmark Trust property is an excellent way to do this. Ten years ago I helped my mum celebrate her eightieth birthday in another Bath Landmark.
Elton House is right in the city centre and very close to the Abbey. I’ve visited Bath a few times, most recently for the Sack of Bath Walk in June 2011. As with all parties there was plenty of food and drink and by Sunday morning I felt ready to ‘hit the hills’. There’s a famous six mile walk The Bath Skyline Walk but time wouldn’t permit for a six mile walk before Afternoon Tea at the Pump Room. Luckily I picked up a leaflet at the Tourist Office outlining the Bath Skyline Walk to the View!
I’ve adapted the description and added my own photos as usual. The walk starts at the Tourist Office just a few cobbled steps from Elton House. The Walk Leaflet begins :
Our short walk has stunning views, hidden waterways and Georgian history – all in a short walk that you can fit into a busy itinerary. Ideal!
Turn left out of the Tourist Information Centre then immediately left into York St.
Ralph Allen’s Town House
Behind Marshfield’s Ice Cream Parlour stands Ralph Allen’s Palladian-style town house designed by John Wood, the Elder. It was the first step in Wood’s vision to restore Bath to its former Roman grandeur and where Allen began his meteoric rise from postmaster to one of the richest men in the country. The influence of these two men on Bath’s success is unrivalled.
Turn left at the end of York St, then soon after turn right over two pedestrian crossings to the stone balustrade above Parade Gardens.
Pulteney Bridge from the Balustrade
The weir marks the head of the River Avon’s navigation, another of Allen’s enterprises. By building locks between Bath and Bristol, stone, timber and slate could be transported by boat, a cheaper option than going by road. The first cargo arrived in 1727 and marked the start of an economic boom for the city. In front of you are Parade Gardens, once an orchard tended by medieval monks from the Abbey, and in 1737 they became formal gardens, popular with Georgian walkers. The unusual shop-lined Pulteney bridge was the first step in the spread of Bath east of the river. William Pulteney was the driving force behind the development. In order to gain permission to build, he had to provide a water supply for the city from springs on his estate in Bathwick – some of which originate in the meadows you will soon be walking in.
Great Pulteney Street
Continue straight on to the end of Great Pulteney Street. Cross the main road at the pedestrian crossings into Sydney Place with the Holburne Museum (free museum with excellent Georgian art collection and pavilion style café) on your left and in 40m turn left into Sydney Gardens. Note: during museum opening times, you can enter Sydney Gardens through the museum grounds.
Great Pulteney Street from the Holburne Museum (top)
The ‘Temple’ in Sydney Gardens
Follow the tarmac path towards a stone ‘temple’ to meet a wide tarmac path and turn right, over the railway bridge.
Men and women of high society would spend time ‘taking the air’ and Sydney Gardens proved a popular destination for promenades and concerts and was a favoured place of Jane Austen. It is now one of England’s few remaining Georgian pleasure gardens.
The Kennet and Avon Canal
Immediately before the next bridge (canal) turn right beneath a large plane tree and after 10m go through a white iron gateway on the left onto the canal towpath and turn right. Follow the towpath through the tunnel, up a ramp to cross the canal (on your left see Cleveland House, the former canal HQ built over the water) and turn right to continue on towpath.
At the boat basin go up cobbled ramp and cross road (Bathwick Hill). Turn right, over bridge then sharp left by supermarket, down steep steps to continue right along towpath.
Sydney Wharf Boat Basin
At lock 13 cross canal footbridge, then go up slope/steps to Sydney Buildings.
Cross the road, walk up two flights of steps and continue 300m on the path beside Bathwick Fields past two kissing gates until you reach the end of the black railings and a wooden bench in the field on your right and a magnificent view to reward your efforts!
Just past the end of the field turn right down narrow footpath with hedge on the right. Pass a gateway on the right and shortly after, turn right over small footbridge and stile in hedgerow. Walk straight across the field ahead and through two kissing gates in close succession (into and out of Richens Orchard). After second kissing gate turn left keeping field boundary on left and then go through a kissing gate adjacent to a wide gateway.
Sydney Parade, Sydney Buildings
From the gateway continue straight ahead for 90m to a dip in the field, and then left downhill to a kissing gate, onto Sydney Buildings Road and turn right. Shortly after turn left retracing the route back to canal tow path and turn right, (or, for Pump Shed refreshments turn left for 140m). After 80m turn left onto footpath going downhill. Continue straight, past end of cul-de-sac, until reaching Pulteney Road beneath railway bridge. Cross straight over at pedestrian crossing onto North Parade and North Parade Bridge.
Halfway over the bridge look up to the hills on your left to see Allen’s country mansion, designed by Wood, a symbol of the success of these two men with whom we started this journey. The house is now Prior Park College and the gardens are managed by the National Trust.
Allen’s Mansion Prior Park from North Parade Bridge
View from North Parade Bridge (right)
Continue along North Parade until the junction with Pierrepoint Street. Cross straight over onto Terrace Walk and shortly after turn L into York Street, which leads you back to the Visitor Information Centre. And so back to Elton House.