The perfect hike for woodland lovers
One of my favourite activities in UK was wandering in the woods as it allowed me to be in close contact with nature and isolate myself from the noise of the city.
The British weather is extremely wet and unpredictable but when the sun comes out the trees and meadows seem to shine and take life: colours are extremely vivid and you can definitely feel nature as a truly alive entity!
I recommend this walk during spring to see endless fields of bluebells under the trees or at the end of summer, the perfect time to pick up giant blackberries and use them to make homemade jams and yummy crumbles! This natural reserve is perfect for family days out, wildlife trails, treasure hunts and picnics too!
Here is the map with the itinerary taken from the ViewRanger App:
Facts About the Hike
Distance: 8 miles/ 12.8 km
Elevation Gain: 300 meters ascent/300 meters descent
Time: 3-4 hours
Map: You can follow the directions from the ViewRanger App. There different hiking and cycling trails to follow in the natural reserve.
When to go: This hike is best during the spring and summer months, when the flowers are in bloom and it’s less muddy.
Bring: Hiking shoes, water, snacks or lunch, a waterproof light jacket (remember you are in UK!), and of course, your camera.
Getting to the start of the hike
By Bus and Foot: the easiest way to come to the start of the hike coming from Bath is taking bus number 3 towards Bathford and stop at “Dowers Park” to reach Prospect Place and start climbing 15 minutes uphill to reach the small car park, the beginning of our hike.
By car: if you are coming by car you need to head to the Brown’s Folly car park.
On the Trail
This forest is particularly rich in animal species especially bats living in the old abandoned mines (not accessible), birds, insects, squirrels and many butterflies. It is easy to find sheep grazing in the sweeping green valleys so keep your dog at lead in certain areas. Check this brochure if you want to know more about the mine history and the wildlife species you can find in the forest.
As every atmospheric forest, there a number of mysterious and chilling folk tales surrounding the folly tower: it is said that it was built for a girl in 18th century, called Sally, who was imprisoned in Browne’s Folly and was murdered in these nearby woods or another version is that she was left to starve in the tower.
If you are interested in the true story of Sally read the legend.
From the car park you will see directions to reach the folly tower. Take the path on the right hand and follow the path uphill.
You will come across various caves which used to be opens and working during 18th century to extract the local limestone used to build the city of Bath. At some point you will arrive to a panoramic point rewarding you with lovely views over the hills.
Turn left and follow the path toward the folly. Once there you can enter the folly but it is not allowed to climb the old and crumbling steps inside. The view is already amazing from the bottom so no need to risk your life.
Carry on straight ahead into the woods and breathe some fresh air. Listen to the sound of nature and to your own thoughts.
Endless fields of wildflowers once out of the woods.
Follow the path running besides the river until Dundas Aqueduct, cross the river and reach the Kennet and Avon Canal. Follow the River Avon back on the other side.
Reach the Kenneth and Avon Canal where many colourful narrow boats are parked at the canal border. Many people still leave in these boats which are set up to be apartments paying only the mooring rights to the council. There are many original boats decorated with flowers and will all comforts and other following a more bohemian alternative style.
When approaching Bath and the Sidney Gardens, marvellous and picturesque houses and gardens can be admired from the river banks.
The area is famous for wildlife: not only ducks, fishes and frogs but also birds such as herons and kingerfishes. They are not even scared of boats going up and down the locks or people stopping by for taking pictures!
A great place to stop for lunch or an ice cream is the Angelfish near Dundas Aqueduct. It features a terrace and it is possible to rent boats and kayaks for the day!
More Information on hiking the area
If you are looking for a nice and well written volume about the Heritage City of Bath this book could be what you are looking for. Fifteen walks to explore every single corner and walking trails of this fascinating historical city. Bath won’t have anymore secrets for you!On Foot in Bath: Fifteen Walks Around a World Heritage City
If you want more hikes in the Bath surrounding area, this book can be useful to give you inspiration and guide you through the organisation of your next hike in this quintessentially English part of the world!Where Wiltshire Meets Somerset: 20 Best Walks in the Country Around Bath, Bradford on Avon, Westbury, Warminster and Frome