Pilgrimage, a singing walkabout, Nordic walking and a tiny forest all feature on the programme for this year’s Bathscape Walking Festival and Somer Valley Walking Festival which starts today (Saturday 9th September).
The festival takes place from 9 to 24 September and the majority of the walks and events are free, although some require booking in advance.
The Sensory Discovery Walks at Sydney Gardens, which were recently added to the programme, are led by Your Parks, and will encourage you to slow down and take notice of your surroundings. The walk is designed for people with disabilities and their carers, although everyone is welcome. There are four dates and booking is essential.
The programme also includes five creative walks – One Small Step - brought to the festival by Kilter Theatre, each addressing a different climate related theme and designed with wellbeing and creativity in mind. Booking is essential for these events.
This year’s pilgrimage, A Spiritual Walk on the South Side, has been organised by Bath Inter Faith Group in association with the festival. The beautiful and inspiring 7.5 mile route takes in Haycombe cemetery, the Hindu temple at Rush Hill, stretches of Saxon Wansdyke, a site of Druid interest and the city’s Jewish Burial ground at Combe Down.
Residents in Whiteway, Foxhill and Twerton can chose from several walks starting in their neighbourhood: One Tunnel from Springfield Park will loop for two miles through many of the local green spaces near Entry Hill and Bloomfield Road; the Family Walk Whiteway to Englishcombe, which starts from the Roundhill, is a 2 mile nature walk for families to enjoy; or Nordic Walking in Pennyquick Park.
Councillor Kevin Guy, leader of the council, said: “There is such a variety of walks included in the programme this year. Residents are sure to find something that interests them whether that be trying Nordic Walking for the first time, taking part in a pilgrimage around the sites of religious and historic interest in Bath, or taking the whole family on a nature and heritage walk around Midsomer Norton Town Park. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience our local landscape.”
The Fun Family Woodland Walk offers a stroll through woods, hedgerows, open fields and nuttery and offers spectacular views across Bath. It is great for children, although unsuitable for buggies, whereas the Family Nature and Heritage Walk through Midsomer Norton Town Park is suitable for prams and adventurous little legs.
Several walks highlight community led projects: Community Green Fingers led by Transition Bath is a three hour walk starting from Lansdown Park & Ride and finishing near Queen Square and Discover Lyncombe Hill Fields and its Tiny Forests is an hour and a half exploration of the work that has been undertaken on 10 acres of former farmland.
Mid-distance walks include the 5 mile Primrose Hill and Charlcombe Gardens walk starting from Lansdown Park & Ride; or the 4 mile Garden and Landscape Batheaston and Bathampton Meadows walk visiting two local public gardens and the expansive meadows now under the stewardship of the National Trust.
For walkers happy to stretch their legs and go further afield, the Bath to Bradford-on-Avon walk goes via Monkton Combe and Iford and the Upper Swainswick to City Circular includes a climb to the top of Little Solsbury Hill, or join the 12 mile linear Limestone Link Walk between the Mendip Hills and the Cotswolds.
There is an opportunity to find out more about Newton Park’s wildlife on one of the three wheel friendly Wildlife and Wellbeing Walks at Newton Park walks. Experts in conservation, botany, ecology and human physiology will guide you round the campus on a 1.5 mile walk highlighting the many forms of wildlife present and the conservation efforts in place.
If you, or anyone you know would enjoy the walks but doesn’t have access to the internet, then they can phone 01225 477 265 and the Bathscape team will help to find a walk they would enjoy and book a place for them.