With views along the Avon valley from Bath to Bristol, an iron age hill fort, a horse racing course, a battle monument and wildlife sightings this turned out to be a superb and fascinating walk!
Starting from the village of Upton Cheney my route took me down through fields and across a wooded stream to a cluster of houses at North Stoke. Walking up past the church brought me to the first historic site of the walk: an iron age hill fort, known as Little Down Hill Fort. This promonotory fort consists of ditches and embankments around the outside of what are now cultivated fields. The footpath goes right across the middle of the fort. Looking behind me were excellent views over to Bristol.
The excellent views continued when I reached Prospect Stile view point. From here I could see along the River Avon valley, Bath and beyond. Although it was a sunny day, it was quite hazy but I imagine that on clear day you could see a long way into Somerset from this vantage point. Visibile not far away is Beckford’s Tower, a folly built in 1827 by patron of the arts William Beckford. Apparanly he wished that the had built it a bit taller, stating that “such as it is, it is a famous landmark for drunken farmers on their way home from market”. Now it is also a landmark for walkers!
The next point on my walk was clearly visible, which was the coppice of trees on Kelston Round Hill. Unsurprisingly the view was much the same from here, but its just one of those hills you have to walk up! New woodland is being planted by the owners of the land between Kelston Round Hill and Prospect Stile, which will provide a haven for wildlife.
Back up past Prospect Stile is Landsown Racecourse. The footpath dissects the course itself, which makes an interesting feature of this walk. There was not any horse racing on whilst I was there, which made the crossing much safer. Getting trampled down by stampeding horses is not on my bucket list!
After passing through Lansdown I headed over to Langridge. This was a particuarly pleasant part of the walk through a small valley of fields and woodland. It was early evening and the sun was shining from just above the tree tops. To my delight I saw two wild deer running along the side of the valley about 100 m away from me. This was an unexpected surprise and the highlight of my walk.
The next part of my walk took me across the site of a civil war battlefield. At various places around the battle field there are signposts marking the site and information boards about the battle. There is also a stone monument commemorating Sir Bevil Grenville who died after the Battle of Lansdowne. The battle took place in 1643 and saw Lord Hopton’s Royalists attacking Parliamentarians, led by Sir William Waller. The Royalists forced the Parliamentarians to retreat to Bath. However the Royalists suffered heavy losses and, unable to receive reinforcement, had to retire themselves.
The final point of note on my walk was the trig point at Hanging Hill. With battle signposts on one side and thick foilage obscuring views on the other side, this was quite an unusal trig point!