Prior Park walk

Prior Park Landscape Garden, Ralph Allen Drive, Bath, BA2 5AH

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The Sham Bridge in front of Prior Park mansion © Andrew Butler

The Sham Bridge in front of Prior Park mansion

Explore Prior Park Landscape Garden, one of Bath's hidden gems © NTPL/NT/Andrew Butler

Explore Prior Park Landscape Garden, one of Bath's hidden gems

Take a peek at the ice house, a Georgian fridge © NTPL/Jim Parry

Take a peek at the ice house, a Georgian fridge

Prior Park mansion, which is now a college, can be seen from the garden © NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Prior Park mansion, which is now a college, can be seen from the garden

Route overview

Prior Park was described in 1788 as 'a noble seat which sees Bath and which was built for all Bath to see'. Take in views, meander through the summerhouse glade and walk over the world famous Palladian Bridge from this secret landscape garden.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Prior Park circuit walk in Somerset
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Prior Park visitor reception, grid ref: ST761630

  1. Starting at the visitor reception, take the path on your right and join the circuit path. This part of the garden is called the wilderness. There are some wonderful architectural features to discover off the main path including the gothic temple and the grotto, as well as the serpentine lake.

    Show/HideOne man's creation

    Ralph Allen started out life as one of Bath's postmasters in 1712 at the tender age of 19. However, it was in stone that Allen made his fortune. Bath was expanding fast and the demand for stone was high so Allen invested in several quarries and built an operation capable of handling thousands of tons of stone. With his new found fortune he used the stone to build a magnificent mansion.

    The Sham Bridge in front of Prior Park mansion © NTPL/Andrew Butler
  2. As you leave the wilderness take in the wonderful views down the valley to the Palladian bridge and beyond to the city of Bath.

    Show/Hide'Let nature never be forgot'

    The build of the new mansion started in around 1735 with the garden forming an integral part of the design. Ralph Allen was good friends with Alexander Pope who helped shape the quiet revolution which took place in the layout of gardens and estates during the early 18th century. Pope was an advocate of a more naturalistic approach from the earlier Dutch and French inspired formality. The movement become known as the English Landscape style and later in the century Lancelot 'Capability' Brown used this treatment for many country estates.

    Explore Prior Park Landscape Garden, one of Bath's hidden gems © NTPL/NT/Andrew Butler
  3. Following the priory path, wander through the summerhouse glade, where snowdrops, daffodils, fritillaries and wild garlic can be found in spring. Take time to explore the summerhouse that has been restored.

  4. Continue to follow path through the kissing gate and out onto the fields. Now follow the path downhill.

  5. The path will take you back to the garden, through a second kissing gate and on to the lakes. You can either take the first turning on the left, going to the middle dam, or head straight on to stop at the tea kiosk for food and drinks.

  6. Look out for the ice house on the west bank as well as the Palladian bridge, one of only four in the world, which you can cross.

    Show/HideWhat is an Ice House?

    Ice houses were an important part of many large estates long before their modern equivalent, the refrigerator, was invented. Ice houses were commonly built underground to keep the ice cool during the warmer months. They were typically built close to natural or ornamental water features so that the ice could be easily transported to the ice house. Once in place, the stored ice could easily stay frozen for up to a year.

    Take a peek at the ice house, a Georgian fridge © NTPL/Jim Parry
  7. At the top of the steps turn right and climb back to the beginning of the walk taking you past the rock gate, which was built around 1753.

    Show/HidePrior Park Mansion

    There are some great views of the Prior Park Mansion here.

    Prior Park mansion, which is now a college, can be seen from the garden © NTPL/Arnhel de Serra
  8. We hope that you enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful landscapes. To find out more about how you can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please visit our website.

End: Prior Park visitor reception, grid ref: ST761630

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 172
  • Terrain:

    This is a circular walk around a landscaped garden with mixed terrain. If you go off track, the route can get muddy. Dogs are allowed, but please keep them on a short lead. There are steep hills and steps in places so you'll get a nice outdoor workout. The top of the garden is fully wheelchair accessible.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: First 1 bus stops outside main visitor entrance gates. City Sightseeing Skyline bus stops 230ft (70m) from garden entrance.

    By train: Bath Spa station, 1.2 miles (2km)

    By car: There is no car park at Priory Park. You can park in Bath city centre and walk or take public transport.

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