Bath - Lansdown - Beckford's Tower - Charlcombe -

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Bath - Lansdown - Beckford's Tower - Charlcombe - Bath

The walk starts from a quiet road on Lansdown Hill, just on the outskirts of Bath. Despite this easy access it is largely unknown except by a few local dog-walkers. (Please note that at one point on this walk there is a sign stating dogs are prohibited; see comment by Allison Perkins).

Almost immediately there are views towards Kelston Round Hill (a distinctive local landmark capped by trees) and the Avon Valley. The first part of the walk is within a nature reserve alive with butterflies and birds, attracted to the young trees of the Primrose Hill Community Woodland. The picnic tables and benches provided here make a great lunch stop at either end of the walk, but the route passes by the Hare and Hounds pub for those preferring a hot meal stop.

The walk climbs steeply up Lansdown Hill on at times muddy tracks. Apart from the well-maintained high gates through the deer-fences around the woodland, most of the stiles are poor in design and maintenance and this, coupled with the general steepness, is why the walk is not classified as easy.

The 47m-high Beckford's Tower was designed in 1826 as a study and library for the eccentric William Beckford and is a distinctive landmark with its gilded lantern shining by day and night. Amazingly, this was once the end point of Beckford's Ride, a mile-long strip of land purchased by him and connecting all the way to his house in Lansdown Crescent. Sadly it's not possible to follow the whole route now, but some of the other follies he built can still be seen in various gardens.

William Beckford is buried in the graveyard and it's worth seeking out his sarcophagus and also climbing the tower, which is now run as a museum. (It is usually open from Easter until end-October on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.30am until 5pm).

The Ensleigh military hutments are not the most attractive neighbour for the grandeur of Beckford's Tower, but are a useful boundary marker as the walk goes past the southern and northern edges.

Dropping down steeply, the arrival at the Charlcombe Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is unexpected, as the church is tucked under the brow of the hill. Although thoroughly modernised by the Victorians the church site is truly ancient, possibly connected to Abbess Bertana's mission to found a religious community for 100 virgins! (circa 675AD).

This was a destination for Jane Austen and was mentioned in her 1799 diary: "We took a walk to Charlcombe sweetly situated in a little green valley". Its associations are not all so proper, as this was also the location to which Henry Fielding eloped in 1734 to get married.

The return passes the Hare and Hounds pub, supposedly one of the oldest in Bath. The gardens have fantastic views towards Solsbury Hill and make a good place for a break after a steep climb, before an easy return to the car or bus.

England - South West England - Somerset - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Great Views, Museum, Nature Trail, Pub, Public Transport, Wildlife, Woodland
24/03/2009 - Allison Perkins

We did this walk on a lovely sunny spring afternoon. It is very steep in places both up & down hill, if it had been wet it would have been quite difficult to manage. The views on this walk are amazing, looking out over several different parts of the City of Bath. When you walk across the rugby fields it does say 'dog walking prohibited' but we kept our dogs on the lead and kept to the edge of the pitch. When you come to the stile at Manor farm in Charlecombe you need to take the path to the left, this is the steepest part of the walk. Do drop in the pub, the garden does have amazing views indeed.

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