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Prior Park Landscape Garden

©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

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Take the opportunity to stroll across the Palladian bridge, one of just four in the world of similar design, with a visit to the Prior Park Landscape Garden. Prior Park is not a formal garden but is all about stunning landscape and views, enjoyed from some excellent walks.

The 18th century gardens were created in grand style between 1734 and 1764 by Ralph Allen, a Bath businessman and philanthropist, along with the experienced assistance of Lancelot "Capability" Brown and the poet, Alexander Pope. Drawing on their various skills, they created this delightful and impressive garden in a natural valley with views down to the Regency town of Bath.

At that time the gardens were created to complement the grand
©NTPL/Andrew Butler
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Palladian mansion of Prior Park which remains privately owned. Allen was a stone merchant and he had Prior Park built of local honey-coloured stone as a show-house to demonstrate the stone's rich natural beauty.

Walks around the 28-acre estate will provide visitors with the sites of Roman and Iron Age settlements and several eye-catchers and follies including an ice house and a Victorian grotto. The gardens include a circular walk through six miles of unspoilt meadows and scenic woodlands which has been dubbed the "Bath Skyline walk" for its splendid views. The garden does have some challenges with steep slopes, uneven paths and steps in places.

One of the best times to enjoy Prior Park Landscape Garden is in the autumn when the specimen trees turn glorious shades of orange, red and gold. In the summer the woodlands are rich with the scent of wild garlic.

The three lakes which were created within Prior Park continue to offer scenic viewpoints with magnificent city views in the background. The rare Palladian Bridge, built in 1755, is a particularly unique and lovely viewpoint.

The one-mile footpath which meanders around the valley's wooded slopes provides a pleasant amble in this natural landscaped estate. The Wilderness Garden has recently been restored by The National Trust. This work includes the restoration of the Serpentine Lake which features a Sham Bridge which gives the illusion of a bridge with a stream running beyond.

Prior Park Landscape Garden prides itself on being a green tourism site so there is no general on-site parking. Access on foot, by bicycle or by public transport from Bath town centre is very easy. There is a regular bus service from the bus station or visitors can be dropped off and picked up as part of the Bath Sightseeing open-top bus tour.

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Prior Park is a green tourism site; there is only disabled car parking (please telephone to book), but public transport runs regularly (every 30 minutes) to and from the park. Please telephone for leaflet or download from the National Trust website.

Bus Services:
First 1, Bath£Combe Down. Pick up on Dorchester Street by the bus station. City Sightseeing Skyline Tour open-top tour bus runs to the garden (last stop on tour) every 20 minutes in summer, every hour in winter (11 to 5). Pick up from railway station and Abbey. 1 off for members. Ticket valid for 24 hours.

NCN4, mile View local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website.

By Road:
No brown signs.

By Train:
Bath Spa 1 mile.

On Foot:
1 mile very steep uphill walk from railway station. To rear of railway station cross river, pass Widcombe shopping parade, turn right on to Prior Park Road at White Hart PH, proceed up steep hill, garden on left. Kennet & Avon canal path mile.

Ordnance Survey Reference:

NTPL / David Noton

Related links

Prior Park Landscape Garden Postcode for SatNav: BA2 5AH


+44 (0)1225 833 422

Ralph Allen Drive

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