Adventures by train – the Bath skyline walk

GWR train approaching Bath Spa station on a bridge over the River Avon. Distinctive clouds and a church.

When you think of Bath what springs to mind?

  • Steamy Roman baths?
  • Impressively curved weirs?
  • Regency architecture?
  • Flamboyant Bridgerton dresses?
Pulteney Bridge in Bath. Three honey coloured arches with shops on top of them. Over a distinctive three tiered arch-shaped weir.
Pulteney Bridge Bath, Fi Darby

You might not be surprised to hear that Bridgerton scenes were filmed in Bath’s stunning Royal Crescent, at Abbey Green and at the glorious Holburne Museum. Indeed, a tour of Bridgerton film locations would make a great city walk in its own right.

You could even come in costume.

But did you know that some of the best views of Bath’s famous honey-coloured stone buildings are from outside the city?

And they’re all just a short walk from Bath Spa train station.

In fact, Bath has to be one of the best city train walk locations I’ve visited. In one day I managed to take in the countryside air, explore the city sights, and sit in a park.

Field of green grass and yellow buttercups with trees. Train station below.
Bath Spa station, Jess Marklew

As well as having time for a platform-side beer before I caught my train home.

Other cities are available.

It’s easy to see why Bath has been popular with visitors for hundreds of years.

The Bath Skyline Walk

Round sign with yellow arrow and oak leaves within. The text Bath Skyline and National Trust is written around the edge in brown.
Bath Skyline sign, Fi Darby

We’re used to admiring Bath’s beautiful buildings from ground level but on this walk you’ll gain a new perspective on the city’s striking architecture.

Views from above.

It isn’t just the views over the city that will capture your imagination on this Bath walking route; expect the unexpected as soon as you leave the train station.

A castle that isn’t a castle for example!

You’ll find the whole 10 kilometre National Trust walk here but we’ve adapted it to start and finish at Bath Spa train station, as well as shortening it to allow time to explore the city streets before catching your train home.

The Bath Skyline Walk by train

This walk combines striking streets with woodland and countryside elements. There are some steep uphill and downhill sections with a couple of areas that are rougher underfoot.

  • Start and finish train station: Bath Spa (a GWR station)
  • Travel time from London: 1.5 hours
  • Travel time from Bristol: 15 minutes
  • Walking route time: 2.5 hours
  • Your walking route map and gpx file: The Bath Skyline Walk
  • Toilets: Bath Spa station and Railway Street
  • Refreshments: The Green Rocket Cafe near Parade Gardens (amazing vegetarian creations), Franco Manca Bath right next to Bath Spa station (fantastic pizzas). I would also recommend a visit to Ludo Sports Bar, not because of its beer or service (both lacking) but because its upstairs terrace is right next to Bath Spa station (and I mean almost on the platform).
Woman with rucksack walking past canal boats on canal towpath.
Kennet and Avon Canal Bath, Jess Marklew

Author’s adventure tip: With so much to see in Bath, my advice would be to start early and plan for a later train home (rush hour trains here can be busy). I loved the Skyline walk but it gave me an appetite for a closer view of the city so I was pleased I had left plenty of exploration time.

As well as time for Bath’s delicious eateries.

If you want a uniquely Bath, but very modern experience, sit on the benches at the bottom of Royal Crescent Lower Lawn.

And watch everyone else taking selfies.

Practicalities: Although this walk is only just outside Bath, it includes a variety of terrain so I recommend walking shoes or boots. You’ll want to stop and take in the views so pack a picnic and allow plenty of time.

Your Bath Skyline walking route

Low level blue open barge on a sunny canal. Horse chestnut tree hanging over.
Kennet and Avon Canal Bath, Fi Darby

As soon as you leave Bath Spa station, you’ll feel the pull of the city but resist its temptations (until later).

You’re heading for the hills.

City square with modern glass and yellow stone building, circular city map and artistic text on stone plinth.
Brunel Square Bath, Jess Marklew

In Brunel Square (near Franco Manca pizza), find the bike lined tunnel that leads under the railway. Head through this then turn left then right to find and cross the footbridge behind the station.

Train photo opportunities here!

Turn left along Rossiter Road then left again to find the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath. Don’t cross the bridge by the lock; instead, follow the towpath back under Rossiter Road.

At the path fork, keep right to head up onto St Matthew’s Place, cross the road and the canal bridge to rejoin the towpath on the opposite side of the canal.

Hard to believe you’re still in the city.

Canal locks with honey-coloured buildings and beautiful gardens behind. Lady gardening.
Kennet and Avon Canal Bath, Jess Marklew

Follow the towpath along, passing under the Pulteney Gardens bridge and past the distinctive Pump House Chimney on the left. Turn right over the next bridge, then cross the road to take the footpath that leads uphill then alongside Bathwick Meadow.

City green spaces are always welcome.

At the path junction, take the left fork to leave Bathwick Meadow and pick up signs for the Bath Skyline Walk. At the end of the footpath, cross Bathwick Hill and head up Cleveland Walk.

The uphill will be worth the views.

Wooden bench with curved top overlooking tree tops then buildings below.
Views over Bath, Jess Marklew

At the Junction with Sham Castle Lane (on the left) take the footpath up to North Road. Turn right up North Road then left up the footpath to Sham Castle Down (there’s a clear National Trust sign at the bottom of the path).

Can you spot Bath Abbey from the bench by the Sham Castle gate?

White and black sign on a tall metal gate depicting a simple castle with towers.
Sham Castle Gateway, Fi Darby

At the Sham Castle gate, continue uphill through the trees until you come to Sham Castle itself. It won’t take you long to explore this quirky folly but this is also a dream cup of tea location if you’ve packed your flask.

It’s easy to see how Sham Castle got its name but there’s nothing fake about those views over Bath.

Bench with castle facade behind. Two square and two round towers with multiple pretend windows and a door arch.
Sham Castle Bath, Jess Marklew

Leave Sham Castle to cross the golf club car park then follow the track along the treeline. Keep following the Skyline Walk markers around the treeline then eventually through a metal kissing gate into the woods.

As you head through the woods, look out for the small quarry on the right, it’s worth exploring.

Quarry with a cave that has been fenced off using a ladder-like enclosure.
Quarry above Bath, Fi Darby

Where the woodland path forks, keep right to emerge from the trees near the sign for Bushey Norwood. Continue in the same direction along the treeline. Go through the gate and follow the Skyline Walk sign to head right across the next field.

At the American Museum additional car park, turn right to take the path alongside the lane, then quickly turn left to cross the lane and take the path to Claverton Down Road. Cross the road and continue along the (nearly) opposite path.

Follow this path as it bends right and then left. After the left bend turn right to head through the small gate into the field. Cross this field then follow the boundary of a second field to climb the stone stile.

To avoid the rocky downhill section ahead, continue head straight on (without climbing the stile) to Claverton Down Road (which joins Widcombe Hill).

Once over the stile, continue along the field boundary until you come to a junction. Turn right then follow the Skyline marker left to head down the steep rocky path to Widcombe Hill.

Three green electric scooters parked at the top of a steep hill next to a lovely stone house.
Scooters Widcombe Hill Bath, Fi Darby

Enjoy the walk downhill through sought-after Widcombe and back to the River Avon.

It’s easy to see why there are so many electric scooters at the top of this hill.

Head back over the footbridge and through the tunnel to arrive back at the train station. Bath is now yours to further explore.

Or you can head to the station if you lingered too long at those views.

Author’s train adventure

Two smiling friends in front of a Bath Spa station sign.

How to plan your own adventure by train

My favourite cities are all ones from which you can see the countryside that surrounds them, and Bath is a great example of this.

But few people venture beyond the charms of the city.

When I planned this hiking route, I was keen to see Bath from another, higher perspective but the pull of this beautiful honey-toned city was strong and after our first walk (and a tasty vegetarian lunch) my friend and I also indulged in a quick city tour.

Made more special by the fact that she used to live in Bath.

Man with easel and paints in the middle of the road painting a Bath street scene.
Artist Bath, Fi Darby

This was a rare city walk because there wasn’t one moment when the scenery wasn’t wonderful. From the bustle of Brunel Square (next to Bath Spa station), to the quiet of the Kennet and Avon Canal, to the dandelion fields and woodlands up above, everything combined to create a very special walk.

An open field in springtime with lush grass and yellow flowers. Round sign with yellow arrow and the text Skyline, National Trust.
Bath Skyline Walk, Fi Darby

And the spring sunshine was an added bonus.

For me the highlight of the Bath Skyline walk had to be quirky Sham Castle. The clue’s in the name really, and I knew what to expect but walking round this strangely flat folly would be enough to make anyone smile.

I’m not going to say anymore. Go and have a look for yourself!

If you have time for one city sight once you’ve completed this walk, I recommend heading up to Royal Crescent. No matter how many times you’ve seen photos or film footage of this remarkable piece of architecture, you can’t fail to be amazed at its sheer exuberance and swagger.

Crescent of impressive Regency terraced buildings with light brown stone, four stories, columns and black metal railings.
Royal Crescent Bath, Fi Darby

And the park below is a delight to sit in.