Depending on where you go walking in Bath or the surrounding countryside, you'll need good walking shoes or some sturdy hiking boots and leg muscles to match. Both the city and the landscapes around it are renowned for their hilly characteristics.
The hills are what help to make this area of England exceptionally scenic, but they can prove to be testing if you're used to walking on flat ground. That said though, you will find trails that prove to be not too strenuous and will still give you stunning views of the city and the Somerset countryside. If you think your calves can handle the exercise, then you'll also find trails that will get your hamstrings twanging and leave you feeling you've had a good workout.
The last thing you want to be doing when you're going hiking in Bath is to be carrying any extra weight. If you want to make the most of your day, but are stuck with your suitcases, don't worry, there is a solution. Leave your bags at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Bath conveniently located near the Bath Spa Train Station. They'll be stored in a secure luggage locker and you can go off burden-free to skip along Bath's hiking trails with a lamb-like spring in your step.
Top Hiking Trail Picks In Bath
There are plenty of places in and around Bath where you can put your best foot forward and get some outdoor exercise. With the museums and other attractions all charging admission fees, walking or hiking is, in reality, some of the best free things to do in Bath other than going window shopping.
You'll find if you start with the easier walks around the city and through its parks, you'll limber up in the process, and your leg muscles will get used to the hilly terrains. After those, you may well find yourself ready to tackle a trail that's a little more difficult, especially if it passes by lots of pubs on the way.
Best Easy Walks and Hikes In Bath
To get you started on the right path and let those leg muscles loosen up without too many painful consequences, try the following hikes in Bath. You'll find they're all relatively easy and won't leave you feeling as if you've just scaled Mount Everest.
Bath Railway Path
The Bath Railway Path is an out and back walking route just over 3.5 kilometers long. The shady, tree-lined pathway runs alongside the River Avon and is virtually flat from start to finish.
You can join the Bath Railway Path in Norfolk Crescent on the edge of the Norfolk Crescent Open Space. You may want to make sure you're carrying your phone or camera as there are always lots of narrowboats moored up on the river banks and they make for super photos.
The pathway terminates at a pub called The Boathouse where you can make an impromptu rest break before turning around and heading back the way you came. If you don't want to make the return on foot you can catch a bus from the Newbridge park and ride stop which is right next to the pub. If you haven't used the park and ride system before, you may be surprised to discover it's one of the best ways of getting around Bath and much easier than trying to find a parking space in the city center.
Royal Victoria Park
If you like to take your daily constitutional amid manicured gardens then you want to head to the Royal Victoria Park in Bath. It's also one of the best parks in Bath to go to if you're staying in the city with kids.
The pathways in the Royal Victoria Park wind through over 50 acres of superbly kept grounds where there are countless flowerbeds, ponds, and a separate botanical garden. There are play areas for the little ones, a skateboard park, a mini-golf course, and picnic and barbecue areas as well as an exciting aerial walkway through the treetops of The Dell.
Part of the park is also given over to a meadow area where things are left to grow wild. All the park keepers do is cut a few pathways through the tall grasses so you can explore with ease. It's a beautiful spot in spring and summer when the wild plants are blooming as it attracts hundreds of native British butterflies.
Best Intermediate Hikes In Bath
If you want to do a decent hike in Bath there really is no getting away from hills. Yes, there are hills on these intermediate-level hikes in Bath, but for the most part, they’re manageable ones.
Bath Skyline Route
The Bath Skyline Route isn't too physically testing but is lengthy so you'll need a bit of staying power if you want to complete the entire length of this ten-kilometer-long loop trail.
The trail begins in the city center by Bath Abbey and winds its way through urban areas, through Parade Gardens, and crosses over the River Avon on North Parade Bridge into the Bathwick neighborhood. The high point of the hike is the viewing point in the Bathwick Fields from where there are impressive views of the city.
Make sure you take the right Bath Skyline route by downloading a map from the official Visit Bath website or you could find yourself on a never-ending, self-guided sightseeing tour of Bath. Set off in the early morning and when you've finished your hike, treat yourself to the best brunch in Bath. You'll deserve it.
NB: Don't expect doing the Bath Skyline to be a solitary hike. This amazing trail is by far the most popular hike for visitors to the city.
Kennet and Avon Canal Trail
The Kennet and Avon Canal Trail is one of the prettiest walks you can take in Bath although not one you'll want to do in its entirety.
The Kennet and Avon Canal trail begins in Bath by the Pulteney Bridge and continues for over 80 miles until it reaches the city of Reading.
The best section of the canal trail to walk from Bath is from Pulteney Bridge to the village of Bathampton which is around five kilometers. As you get close to Bathampton there are lots of riverside pubs where you can sit for a chill out while taking in the views of the quaint cottages on the opposite side of the canal.
NB: The only thing that spoils the peacefulness of this hike is the fact that many cyclists also use the narrow towpath and it can get annoying when you keep having to move aside to let them pass.
Prior Park Landscape Gardens
If you like to set off on a walk with a definite destination in mind then you'll love the walk from Bath to Prior Park. Prior Park was once a private estate, but the massive manor house is now used as a college, and the landscaped gardens are managed by the National Trust. There is an admission fee to enter the gardens.
The walk from Bath to the National Trust gardens takes around two hours and you can join it from Pulteney Bridge or set out from Bath train station. Follow Prior Park Road and you'll arrive at the park. Be prepared for a steep end to the walk plus a few hilly spots and steps in the gardens themselves.
NB: You can turn this walk into a longer loop walk by following part of the Bath Skyline on your way back. For full details of both routes check out the beautifulbath.com website.
Best Difficult Hikes In Bath
These following hikes in Bath are classed as difficult because they all involve tackling some pretty steep inclines at some point.
The Beckford's Tower hike is a short one, but one that will test your legs and your stamina. This trail spans 4.5 kilometers and is part urban and part countryside and hilly almost all the way.
Set off from Bath's Queen's Square and head along Lansdowne Road in the direction of Bath Racecourse and you won't get lost on the way. There are alternative routes along unmarked footpaths from the city's Royal Victoria Park too, although they cut across open fields where you're likely to run into grazing livestock or step into a cowpat if you're not looking.
Beckford's Tower is an early 19th-century structure built by an eccentric architect to house his personal art gallery. The tower is now a museum containing many original furnishings and artifacts of that era. There is a £2 per person entrance fee. Take a breather or have a re-energizing picnic on the grass before you go in as you'll want to climb the spiral staircase in the tower to see the panoramic views of the Somerset countryside from there.
NB: The only way back down from the tower is the way you got up there.
Jacob's Ladder to Alexandra Park
When you feel as if you haven't done enough aerobic exercise in a while, head for the Jacob's Ladder that goes up to Bath's Alexandra Park. It's a steep climb that will leave your leg muscles screaming.
This hike begins right next to Bath Spa Railway Station where you need to cross the river via Halfpenny Bridge and keep going until you reach Alexandra Road where you can get onto the steps. While this hike is still in Bath you'll be trekking through woodlands, and through the Beechen Cliff area until you get to Alexandra Park.
The park covers around eleven acres and, you'll be pleased to know, has several viewpoints where benches have been installed so you can sit and enjoy Bath's stunning cityscape while getting your breath back.
Cotswold Way, Bath
The Cotswold Way is a public use bridleway that's 65 kilometers in length between Bath and Chipping Campden that is one of the best hikes in England.
Even on a good energy day, you won't want to be walking it all, but there's a great 16-kilometer section you can complete that runs from Bath to Cold Ashton.
The Cotswold Way starts right next to Bath Abbey and after winding through the outskirts of the city continues into open farmland. It's a well-marked trail that's used by hundreds of hikers every year. Major points along the way are Weston, Kelston Round Hill, and the Little Down Hill Fort.
While many people do go hiking along the Cotswold Way, it can seem isolated in places so go prepared with enough food, drinks, a waterproof jacket, and a phone.
NB: The best way to get back from Cold Ashton to Bath is by bus which takes around an hour or by taxi.
Now you know what great hiking and walking there is to be had in Bath, you've got no excuse for not packing your hiking boots in your suitcase. Yes, some of the routes and trails are definitely testing, but they pay amazing dividends where beautiful scenery is concerned.
Amazing views are not all you'll come across when you're out hiking in the Somerset countryside, either. You'll discover great pubs with superb ale and food, interesting historic sites, and hopefully, spot some elusive British bird and animal life on occasion.