The hills, valleys and villages that surround Bath are well-loved by both residents and visitors and we are keen to encourage people to get out and enjoy this spectacular countryside on our doorstep. This year we will be adding to our trail guides, continuing to run guided walks, improving certain sections of footpath and organising our annual Bathscape walking festival. So just before Christmas we asked over 100 local people about their walking habits, their favourite areas of countryside around Bath and what influenced their choices of where to visit. Although it’s not a large enough number of people to properly represent the city, it gives a fascinating snapshot of how we are using the countryside as well as ideas for favoured local places to explore.

Over 80% of people said that the 2020 Coronavirus restrictions had led to them visiting the local countryside more than they were previously, and around 90% were visiting at least once a week. Exercise, leisure, fresh air and enjoyment were the top reasons for countryside visits, with dog walking, running, cycling, relaxing and the views also featuring strongly. Mental health, escaping lockdown and getting the kids out to play were also repeatedly mentioned, unsurprisingly given the year we had.

People valued the scenery, tranquillity, nature and views, while their decisions on where to explore were based on a broad range of occasionally conflicting considerations. Being able to walk, cycle safely or take a bus to the start of the walk was a popular consideration, with numerous people wishing to avoid cars, though for others the availability of parking was a key factor. Similarly, while some people wanted dog friendly sites, others were keen to avoid them. Generally popular though were variety, good views, decent paths and signage, with a good pub along the way being a bonus.  Factors that people felt limited their exploration of areas included muddy paths, getting lost and ease of travel to the walk.

Around two thirds of people felt they knew the countryside around Bath somewhat well, with the remainder split evenly between knowing it very well or hardly at all. As we promoted the questionnaire through our social media  as well as other groups channels it’s likely that contributors were skewed towards those people with a stronger than average interest in the countryside, but that meant we received a wide range of suggested favourite places to explore with over 300 suggestions covering over 80 individual sites. Some people understandably decided they would rather keep their favourite spots secret but the great thing about the countryside around Bath is that there are so many great places to explore and wealth of public footpaths.

If you are looking for inspiration for new places or a reminder of areas you haven’t visited for a while, then the top 50 favourite places of our contributors are listed below in order of how many times they were mentioned. You can find information on many of the sites recommended on our interactive Bathscape map while our existing trail guides and links to other organisations suggested local walks can be accessed from the explore page of our website along with a video highlighting our local countryside attractions. Follow us on social media if you want to be kept informed of new resources, walks and events as we add them and, in the meantime, why not get out and explore. You can read about how essential we found walking during 2020 here.

Kennet & Avon Canal
Bath Skyline Walk
Little Solsbury Hill
Cotswold Way
Kelston Roundhill
Bathwick Fields
Rainbow Woods
South Stoke
The Two Tunnels Greenway
Brown’s Folly
Bathampton Meadows
Beckfords Tower
Primrose Hill
St Catherine Valley
Claverton Down
Midford Valley
River Avon trail
Newton St Loe
Smallcombe Vale
Woolley valley
Bristol/Bath Railway Path
Monkton Combe
Bathampton Down
Lyncombe Hill Fields
Sydney Gardens
Kensington Meadows
Prior Park
Royal Victoria Park
Combe Hay
Lyncombe Vale
Somersetshire Coal Canal
Limpley Stoke
Corston Stream
Bath City Farm
Alexandra Park
Breach Wood
Bannerdown Common
Bath’s Parks
Newbridge Slopes

11:28 am 12th January 2021