What do you think of when you think of the city of Bath? The Romans? Jane Austen? Lads on a stag do? The city has a lot to offer, from culture, history and architecture to food, nightlife and shopping.
As cities go, Bath is pretty special. The Royal Crescent is an iconic landmark, having featured in countless period dramas and Bath Abbey dates back to the 7th century (though has since been rebuilt).
As a thriving university town, there is also a super modern side of Bath, from trendy vintage stores to hipster brunch spots.
But sometimes on a weekend escape, you want more than sightseeing and ambling around different concrete structures. Sometimes, a weekend away isn’t really a respite from real life without a delicious dose of nature. If you live in a city anyway, time in the trees is infinitely more enjoyable than another museum.
It is no secret that Somerset is fantastic for time outdoors, but did you know how easy it is to get a good walk in just a stone’s throw from the city centre?
The Skyline Walk spans across the rim of Bath, providing a tantalising view of the sprawl you have just left behind.
Starting on Bathwick Hill, you can pick up a National Trust map and directions at the gate that leads into the route. The guidelines are easy to follow, so you will be able to focus your attention on the wildlife around you.
The route takes you through wide open fields, up and down steps, through kissing gate after kissing gate.
On my journey, the warmth and kindness of the people of Bath was not only summed up in the friendly exchanges with hikers coming the other way, but most notably in the several notes that had been typed out and laminated, posted on gates to find the owner of a pair of glasses that had been picked up. It was quite heart-warming.
As you amble through the expanse of space, you move into an orchard, with an abundance of plum trees and other edible delights. I nibbled on some fruit from the tree, which was sour and unripe, giving a good excuse to come back in the autumn!
Across a country lane, take a few minutes to veer off the designated path and into a yard with an old cemetery and a tiny church, and grandiose trees.
Back on the trail, you will wander across more fields, through gates, and amidst some woodlands to enjoy the rich landscape. You’ll soon forget that just a little ways away there are countless rugby lads wearing tutus and downing pints!
The American Museum is in the middle of the Skyline walk, and even if you don’t fancy it, there are gardens and a delightful tea room you can pause at. It was pouring with rain when we got there and we had to sweet talk the man on the door into letting us go buy a coffee without paying the £7 entry fee, but like most West Country folk, he was very kind.
The tea room is a little shed in the forest that has drinks and cakes, and while there is no indoor space for sitting and enjoying your beverage, some big umbrellas at the picnic tables can provide some shelter.
Finishing off the route, you will see Sham Castle. This, like others around the country, was built for the aesthetic rather than for traditional use. It is known as a folly – just a wall with turrets, created because the owner of the nearby townhouse thought it would be quite nice to see a castle out of his window.
After passing a golf course and some woodland, you’re basically back to your start point, happy, tired, and invigorated from time in the wonderful British countryside.
Now you’re in the perfect frame of mind to get back into the charming city centre and enjoy a cold drink in a welcoming pub by the River Avon, watching the boats go past.