When I first heard of ‘Kelston Round’, I assumed it was some kind of circular walk; perhaps even the focus of an annual fundraising event. It was only about six months ago that I learned it’s solely the name of a hill near Bath. So, yesterday, I went off to explore it.
If you’re interested to know the exact route, you can find it as Walk 22 of Geoff Mullett’s Walk West Again eBook.
This walk begins in Saltford; a small village on the Bath-side of Keynsham, I would say. I’d thought that arriving around 10am would be about right but as I reached the intended layby at the start of the walk, I could find nowhere to leave my car. It seems the early bird does catch the worm in this village!
I drove on past the layby, only to have to make a U-turn at a dead-end (the car infront was doing the same and so, I didn’t feel as embarrassed). So, heading back up the High Street, I turned left just after the pub and then found a more welcoming space for parked cars with a fine view of the River Avon. There were only two others parked here and toilets 50 yards away!
Picking up front the start point and you’re immediately following a path running parallel to a popular cycleway that used to house a railway line.
It seems very hard to believe but as you reach the first bridge, you can look down a set of concrete steps that used to form part of Kelston Station… Where the rest of it has gone in the last 70-odd years, I do not know!
Kelston Round in the distance.
Walking along this lower (muddy) path and in the direction of Lansdown, you can see Kelston Round Hill straight ahead, although I wasn’t aware of this until after I’d climbed it later in the walk.
Waymarking in this area was very clear and I don’t recall coming across any obstructions with the rights of way.
I somehow managed to miss Kelston Forge a little further along, which is one of Geoff’s highlights along this walk but because of said waymarking, I didn’t lose my way or wander astray in to a farmer’s yard.
Dundry Hill on the horizon.
Soon after, you begin to follow a lane steeply up hill on your journey towards North Stoke but it’s worth it’s soon worth it for the views.
As the walk began to level out, I came up against the threat of mud and ankle-deep water. We’ve had a lot of rain the region lately. I considered turning back when faced with the “lake” above but I instead concocted a method of ‘shimmying‘ along the slippery, muddy verge…
With my right hand, I held on to the fence post. In my left, I wedged my walking stick in to the lower edge of the bank. Against this, I could position my left foot and prevent a complete slide in to the water. By carefully treading forward along the verge with my right foot, I could reach for the next post (or tree), move my stick along and, well, I’m just glad no-one else was around to see me! It took me a good 5 minutes to get through what you see above, before the water resided and I was left with only mud to contend with.
It then becomes more of a descent down towards North Stoke and the views again open out on such a clear late-autumn/early-winter’s day.
This factory in Keynsham used to produce Cadbury’s (and formerly Fry’s) chocolate.
You could even see the River Avon in Saltford, very close to from where I had started this walk:
Entering the village of North Stoke:
As I made my way towards the church, water was abundantly making its way down streams, from ponds and over a couple of walls.
I stopped for a little while up here and for the only time on this walk. I was less than halfway and only managed a third of my lunch before moving on.
I was quite curious about this particular gravestone a few behind the bench:
I wonder what it meant to the deceased?
Need a breather? Just pretend your observing the landscape beneath you!
The route continues around the back of the church and then uphill for a short but rather strenuous distance.
Bath Racecourse, Lansdown.
It was only after passing through the gate at the very top that I was able to connect the dots and conclude that I had walked this next stretch once (or twice, even) before, as it leads you on to the Racecourse.
On my previous walks around Lansdown (here and here), which features in Walk West 3, I’d almost circumnavigated the same hill before crossing the ancient hillfort in the photo above.
Once again, I reached Prospect Stile with its awesome views. In the low-lying sun however, I was struggling to get a clear shot of the landscape without overexposure from the sky. But Kelston Round Hill stood straight ahead.
By now, you’re following the Cotswold Way. I’d not looked too closely at the route for this area before but it’s good to see that it passes a pair of hills with trig points on top.
Kelston Round Hill is accessed via one of several permissive paths. You can circumnavigate the trees on top (known as Kelston Clump) but access beyond the fencing is forbidden.
For a permissive route upon such a small hill, I wasn’t expecting to find company. However, both of the two benches I found were occupied by locals, while another had decided to take a crumpled nap on the hillside and away from the permissive path, although I chose not to complain!
I like walking this close to Bath (without being too close) as you know you’re more than likely to pass other people. It’s not as isolating as other parts of the region and yet, it’s not nearly as busy as a dedicated park or estate like Bristol’s Ashton Court, which can be a bit less comfortable in the summer, for my liking.
Continuing along the Cotswold Way and there’s another trig point to find on the way to Newbridge.
This is at the summit of Penn Hill and not to be confused with another further south in Wells.
As the route continues downhill, across a park and on to a road, I instantly recognised the next few steps as being identical to a portion of the anti-clockwise stint around the Circuit of Bath, as I completed just over a month ago now.
It cuts between the same two schools and downhill to towards the same Park and Ride car park… But as there’s no checkpoint to attend on this occasion, I took a ‘secret’ flight up concrete steps up to the busy road and then descended to path that would lead me back to Saltford walking alongside the River Avon.
For each of the 2 years I’ve now completed that 20 mile challenge, I’ve passed this same footpath sign in the hope I may one day explore it on my own. This was my chance!
There was some kind of a rowing competition or training taking place on this day and the riverbank was lined with fishermen; one every 50 yards or so and the frequency barely let up for what must’ve been a 2 mile stretch running to Kelston Lock.
I passed one other walker and a single cyclist came from behind me… It’s fair to say I much prefer this to the canal walk near Bradford-on-Avon!
When you come to the first bridge, you have an option of climbing steps up and on to the cycleway but I decided to stick to my largely uninterrupted route that was occasionally muddy.
As I reached Kelston Lock, I made a decision to turn in and on to the tarmac road that might just lead me directly to my parked car… (I hadn’t checked my map for this.)
Lo and behold, I was right!
If I ever decide to lead a walk in this area, it could well start from here.
Almost four hours of walking and I survived the threat of mud. My gaiters were surprisingly clean at the end of the walk, although my lower legs were suffering from the usual condensation issue.
Thanks for reading and, if in doubt, get your wellies out!