I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son.
I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath a lot, and sometimes about travels in Ireland and France.
Published July 29th 2020
Roundhill to round off a trip
Arguably the best seat in Bath.
Few bath residents, and very few visitors, know about a fantastic viewpoint in Bath. It is arguably the most beautiful in the city, and that is saying something! It is located in the small, south-western suburb of Southdown, at the top of the hill there. It is a typical residential estate but holds a treasure. Confusingly, the seven hilly areas of Bath are all referred to as 'Downs', and Southdown is one of these. At the summit of the hill is a bench, offering quite a sight!
The East side of the hill, heading upwards
Nobody really knows how old roundhill is, or even whether it is a natural limestone hill or man-made. Whatever its origins, the view it offers is unparalleled. Perhaps it was an initial site for Culverhay Castle, which you can see was later built to the east, on a now forested hill. The Bath Astronomy Group often meet here to view comets and meteor showers, so you may well meet them there. You may even see me, sat on the bench at sunset.
Wildflowers growing on the hill. The fabled and nationally rare 'Bath asparagus' grows here.
So, what else can you see?
To the west, the horizon is full of beautiful fields, hedges and rolling hills, stretching into the distance. At sunset, this becomes the archetypal English countryside view. I am still moved by it, after visiting for ten years. It never fails to make me think of classical music, and the music of George Butterworth and Ralph Vaughan Williams especially. This is the view that you get when sitting on the bench at the summit, which has a beautiful dedication plaque on it:
A loving message, framing a lovely view
On a clear day, you may even see the landmass of Wales in the hazy distance. It is even possible to see both of the land bridges that span the Severn Estuary and make trips to Wales more swift.
The gorgeous view looking West, taken in the evening.
Pastoral paradise in England
Turn around 180 degrees, with your back to the bench, and the view is altogether different. The whole of Bath city is unveiled before you. The Georgian Royal Crescent and grand buildings of Lansdown are visible, as are the new residential areas built next to the river. You can see the Bath City football stadium in Twerton, and several of the different wards of Bath. My favourite place to gaze is upon the gridded streets of Bear Flat, as they rise up to Alexandra Park.
The whole of Bath, laid out at your feet as you look East
The foot of round hill offers a lovely looped walk with mowed lawns, a children's play area, and access to Mount Road, the shopping street of Southdown. If you are visiting Bath for the day, then a stop off at Roundhill is the perfect way to end your trip. The sunsets from here are wonderful.
The play area at the foot of roundhill
A colourful work of art at the white trigonometry point
You say that nobody really knows how old Roundhill is, or even whether it is a natural limestone hill or man-made. Surely this ought to be investigated? After all, until only a few years ago, it used to be called Odin's Hill!
Incidentally, it is directly in the line of Great Pulteney Street - just take a look along it from upstairs in the Holburne.