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Things to see and do at the Bath Skyline

Walkers and a dog in Smallcombe Woods on the Bath Skyline
A winter stroll through Smallcombe Woods | © National Trust/Dawn Biggs

Discover an Iron Age hillfort, 18th-century follies, hidden valleys, tranquil woodlands and meadows, all with plenty of flora and fauna along the Bath Skyline. We care for 500 acres of countryside along the Skyline. There's so much to see, you may worry you’ll miss some of the best parts. We’ve put together some things to see as you explore the Bath Skyline and Little Solsbury Hill.

Winter highlights at Bath Skyline

As autumn becomes winter, the ripening berries keep things bright and colourful on the Skyline. There are red hawthorn berries and pink fruits on the spindle bushes to be found, plus the spiky seed heads of the teasel, all providing a welcome meal for the birds.

Winter is often thought of as a quiet time for wildlife, as creatures hibernate or migrate, but there's still plenty to see if you know where to look.

Look out for birds of prey soaring high over rainbow Wood Fields, and smaller birds feasting on the berries and seeds. As you wander through the woodlands you might just come across a squirrel or see signs of rabbits, even if they are hiding away in the warmth of their burrows on these chilly winter days.

Bathwick and Bathampton Woods are brimming full of winter flora at this time of year, including mosses and ferns, all grateful for the damper weather.

At Claverton Down, Rainbow Wood and the Woodland Play Area you can expect to find the first green leaves of the snowdrops as they push through the soil. Later the distinctive white bells are easier to find along the woodland paths.

Woodland variety

The Bath Skyline sits on limestone, and the pH neutral calcareous soils that have developed on the underlying rocks encourage certain species of plants. Trees such as ash, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, yew, cherry, elder, holly, spindle and field maple trees dominate the younger pioneer wooded areas.

In the older woods, oak, lime, hornbeam, wayfaring tree, wych elm, beech and copper beech can be found as well as horse chestnut and sycamore and the pioneer trees associated with limestone woodland.

Sham Castle Down and Sham Castle

After the climb up through Sham Castle Down a short diversion leads you up a narrow path to Sham Castle. A great place to rest your feet and stop for a picnic whilst enjoying the view out across the city of Bath.

Bathwick Wood

Heading into Bathwick woods, you’ll pass woodland glades, created to improve the diversity of wildlife habitat. This area underwent extensive quarrying, possibly back in Roman times. Bathwick Wood has an intriguing mix of mature statuesque beeches, planted, with self-seeded ash and sycamore woods to explore.

Bathampton Down

From the open pasture of Bathampton Down you’ll be able to look out towards Little Solsbury Hill, Bathampton, Batheaston, and up into the Swainswick valley and the Cotswolds beyond.

Little Solsbury Hill

Away from the main Bath Skyline walk to the north east of Bath and above the village of Batheaston, Little Solsbury Hill offers views across the surrounding countryside and back to Bath itself. It’s the site of an Iron Age hillfort and was the inspiration for Peter Gabriel’s song Solsbury Hill. The hill’s made up of mudstone and oolitic limestone.

Bathampton Wood

After leaving Bathampton Down you pass through Bathampton Woods. Halfway through the wood on the Skyline path, you cross the remains of an incline railway that used to transport quarried stone to the bottom of the hill in gravity powered trucks. You'll see that most of the buildings in the city below have been built with Bath stone from the area.

Children preparing to sledge down the snow covered hills on Bath Skyline
Sledging on the Bath Skyline | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Bushey Norwood

Mature oak, field maple and ash trees can be seen in this area, their appearance being of park-like trees scattered about the pasture. These trees were originally woodland trees, indicated by their shape and the name Bushey Norwood.

Claverton Down, Rainbow Wood and the Woodland Play Area

Claverton Down is the plateau above the steep slopes of Bathwick. From the top you can enjoy panoramic city views of Bath and the green spaces beyond as you walk along part of an 18th century carriage drive, known as the Balcony. Prior Park Landscape Garden is tucked away in the valley below.

Rainbow Wood Farm covers much of Claverton Down. Look out for cattle and sheep grazing and young lambs playing in the fields.

Rainbow Wood

Rainbow Wood Fields lie between the Skyline path and Prior Park. Rainbow Wood sits above the fields and gets its colourful name from the arc shape of the woodland.

The Skyline around Claverton Down is home to many mature beech trees, likely planted, with some still showing their origins as avenue trees from an 18th-century deer park estate. These trees are often large, and beautiful with their clean silvery bark.

Woodland play area

For the young, and the young at heart, why not stop off in the woodland play area? There’s lots of space to explore, dens to build, logs to balance on a winding woodland walk. There’s also a picnic area for lunchtime. You’ll find the woodland play area at point 8 on the Bath Skyline walk.

Smallcombe Vale and Wood

In Smallcombe Vale you’ll pass through two traditional hay meadows. A short diversion off the Skyline path will take you to Smallcombe Woods with Smallcombe Garden Cemetery (not National Trust) nestled in the vale below the wood. Smallcombe Wood is Bath’s only ancient woodland, having been here for at least 400 years. Discover veteran oak, lime and ash trees along the network of informal paths.

Bathwick Fields

Wide open fields within a kilometer of Bath Abbey, with great views over the city and beyond. Nestled in the middle of these fields you’ll find Richens Orchard – created in 2005 after a local donation of trees. You'll find many varieties here including apple, pear and plum. The orchard is open for much of the year but closes only while sheep graze in the autumn.

Cows in the frost in Rainbow Wood fields on Bath Skyline

Discover more at Bath Skyline

Find out when Bath Skyline is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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