All the latest news & events from the garden and the National Trust in Bath

National Trust

Den Building

The week of half-term meant the people of Bath could celebrate, and the Rangers at Bath Skyline were more than happy to help by hosting an excellent day building dens over in Larch Wood. Camped out in a small quarry, members of the public came with their children and enjoyed a day of making a variety of lovely dens out of branches, trees, logs, leaves and hay. From giant structures with log furniture to lean-to’s thatched with hay; the kids of Bath busied themselves becoming budding builders with the help of their friends, family and, of course, the overly excitable National Trust volunteers!

Great thanks has to been given to Emma Jones, a Prior Park volunteer, who not only joined in and brought a bunch of willing den builders with her, also entertained the kids later in the afternoon with the telling of a brilliant story. Involving a group of mischievous elves and one rather grumpy, smelly troll, the kids were not short of laughs (and suggestions!)

If you do happen to be walking that way anytime soon, do check these amazing dens out for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Park closure

Due to High winds the Park is closed for today, 08 June 2012.

Rain, Valentin and Rabbits

What with the relatively good weather we have been having recently, and the fact that everything is growing at an alarming rate, I have neglected my Blog duties.  Not much has happened since the grand opening of the Children’s Natural Play Area except the grass, trees  and weeds have grown before our very eyes. This means we have been spending all our time mowing, weeding and pruning. I am almost glad it is raining at the moment to give us a break.

We are very lucky that we have an extra pair of hands to help us for the next 3 weeks. Valentin is a student from the Maison Familiale Horticole Mareuil-sur-Lay. He is over here with fellow students from the College working in various gardens and with commercial gardeners. In my experience they are all very good workers and Valentin is no exception.

Valentin having just finished working in the rain, something he might have to get used to!

Over the years I have been trying to take photos of  the many and varied wildlife in and around the park, but never managed to get a Rabbit. Until now, here you can see one of the Bunnies as bold as brass very near to our Work area. Lets hope we are not overrun in the future.

Where there is one Rabbit ………..!

The Torch comes to Bath

Alexa start s the proceedings

Yesterday (22nd May 2012) was a momentous occasion for the City of Bath, and Prior Park as a torch  helped to open our new Children’s Natural Play area. The Playground is situated down near the bottom lake and very near to the Tea Kiosk.

We had a torch relay starting near the Tea Kiosk with Alexa our catering manager, it was then handed on to Martin, our intern from France. He then ran over the bridge and around the bottom lake before handing the torch to Rob, our Head Ranger. Unfortunately we had a few issues with the torch going out but eventually it reach the Play area. This was the signal for Emma our Operations Support Officer to give  a rousing opening speech. So now, our younger visitors can make use of this Historic play area.

Oh and by the way the Olympic torch came through Bath as well, but hardly anyone noticed!

Martin hands the torch over to Rob

The crowd could barely control their excitement

The Torch arrives at the Play area to thunderous applause

Emma opens the Natural Play Area to end an Historic Day at Prior Park

Update, natural play and bird boxes

A couple of quick updates on our nesting birds (or lack of them!). At the present none of our nest boxes are occupied and our swans are barely occupying their nest. We do not hold out much hope for the cygnets this year.

On a brighter note we have almost completed phase 2 of the Natural Play area, work will continue over the next week or so before it is all finished but it is starting to look really good.

The Natural play area is growing!

Natural Play

We have been busy at work today, starting to create a Natural Play area down near the Bottom Lake and adjacent to the Tea kiosk. We hope this will fire the imaginations of  our young visiters, and also be a great deal of fun. This is only phase one of a few improvements to  a small area of woodland, which we hope will give a great deal of enjoyment to children and grown ups to. I will tell you more as things progress. But to be going on with here are a few pictures of what we have done so far.

This is the Willow tunnel entrance to our new Natural Play area

These are the Poplars we had to bring down six months ago, now we have linked them together to form……..well use your imagination!

Another day at the office

Some days are not as typical as others. Today was one of those. Here is a quick resume of my day, After the usual unlocking, checking of emails etc. I had a meeting with Matthew and Rob, Head Gardener and Head Ranger of Bath and South Cotswolds respectively about creating a Natural Play area in the Park. Some good ideas were bounced around, some even landed.

Then it was on to making some benches to be installed by our new path in the Wilderness. This involved sawing up the wood, and metal bolts, before bolting  parts of them together. The construction of these kits took most of the day but was in dispersed with others things, such as putting up signs to stop visitors going the wrong way by the Summerhouse and ending up sliding down the hill. Fixing a new(temporary) sign near the bird feeders, Loading up wood for our Volunteers to split into logs tomorrow. I also had to devise and write a big long list of other tasks for the volunteers to do tomorrow. Of course as with life nothing is simple and there was a multitude of other little interruptions and disruptions before I finally got the benches done. Now all we have to do is install them, but then that’s another day.

The finished Bench Kits waiting to be installed, surprising it took me so long really!

Wild Garlic Pancakes with Balsamic Vegetables Recipe, by Bath Food Cycle

This is Food Bath Food Cycle’s excellent

Wild Garlic Pancakes with Balsamic Vegetables

10 wild garlic leaves
100g plain flour
2 eggs
200ml milk
50g butter (extra butter for cooking)
Pinch of salt
1. Melt 50g of butter in a pan. Once melted transfer into a bowl. Add the eggs, milk and flour and blitz with a hand blender until smooth.
2. Wash, destalk and finely chop the wild garlic leaves. Add to the pancake batter and blend until well mixed.
3. Meanwhile… Take ANY vegeatables! Yes ANY! Use up what you have. Courgettes, tomatoes, asparagus, and peppers all work nicely but any combination will do. Fry on a medium heat and add salt, vinegar and balsamic vinegar towards the end of cooking.
4. Now heat a dry pan on a high heat and add a blob of butter. Once it has melted and is about the size of a 50p piece ladle in some pancake batter and allow it to expand letting the oil remain on the outside (for crispy edges!)
5. Cook as normal gently easing up the edges to loosen the pancake. Flip, cook and serve with your balsamic vegetables. Yummy additions are: pesto, tomato relish, goats cheese!

Gorgeous Garlic

Here is a little bit of publicity for our ‘Gorgeous Garlic’ event

We are haveing a series of wild garlic cooking demonstrations by the lake showing you how to use this delicious and abundant plant. Gather it from the slopes as you walk through the park, then watch wild garlic go from picked to plate before your very eyes!

Take home recipe cards and experiment at home or enter your own Wild Garlic recipe into our competition for your chance to win a £45 voucher for the Vegetarian Cookery School. All demos and tastings are completely free and shelter will be on hand in case of rain.

Sunday 22nd April
(World Heritage Day – free entry to the garden)

12 noon – Simi’s Kitchen.
Local chef and organic food advocate Simi Rezai introduces us to wild garlic and shows us how to cook up two mouth-watering dishes. Her stunning wild garlic saag aloo will be served all fortnight at Prior Park’s tea kiosk.

1pm – Lemon’s and Honey Children’s Workshop
Julia Handel of Lemon’s and Honey Cookery School in Wellow specialises in cooking for children. At the moment she is getting youngsters excited about local and wild foods. Her hands-on workshop is for kids of all ages so come prepared to get messy!

2pm – Bath Soup Co.
Social entrepreneur Dominic Povey of Bath Soup Company and his head chef will demonstrate how to make a delicious and hearty wild garlic soup. Tasting sessions with wholesome wild garlic bread from The Thoughtful Bread Company.

Sunday 29th April
(Normal garden entry rates apply)

12 noon – Tyntesfield Estate Chefs
Talented chef James Blakemoor from National Trust’s Tyntesfield Estate will share his tips and tricks, whipping up a rack of lamb with wild garlic crust among other delights

2pm – Bath FoodCycle
FoodCycle is a charity dedicated to reducing food waste and redistributing edible food surplus to those in need. Volunteers will demonstrate ways to turn your leftovers into yummy meals – using wild garlic as the secret ingredient!

Why not come along and enjoy the garlic in all its forms.

The Wild Garlic (Ramsons) in the green.

Ibti’s Blog

Here is the third and final Blog from our Work Experience young people.

Ibti’s Blog

Having work experience at National Trust Prior Park landscape garden is wonderful because of the attractions and lovely wildlife. Because of the sunshine it made my week a lot better and when you start you will meet nice and kind people who will help you gain the experience that you will need. the things you will do is enhance your skills to talk to the visitors and give them information about the place at the reception. the most enjoyable work you will do is the Gardening (Planting snowdrops), the most creative  job is making a trail for the visitors to enjoy. Photography is a main thing in work experience and the lovely flowers (Snakehead Lily) and the animals like Mute swan and the Kingfisher. this is the most helpful experience of what work is like and I enjoyed every bit of it. I would like to thank Jim, Katy, Emma and the rest of the team for letting me be here,i would recommend this as a work experience Placement.

Tom’s Blog

Here is the Blog from the second of our Work experience students, Tom.

Throughout this week of working with the National trust at Prior Park Landscape Gardens it has been a brilliant experience of a working environment for me. The people working at Prior Park Landscape Gardens have been so friendly and welcoming during my time here. On the first day of coming here i was very nervous about my first day of work experience, but as soon as i walked in the door of the main area of where I was working i didn’t feel nervous at all as everyone was so friendly.

Another thing I have loved is working on a premises with such beautiful surroundings. Working here at Prior Park  has made me realize what beautiful landscape Bath offers. Standing at the top of the Prior Park site it offers a view showing all the high hills surrounding the valley of Bath. I have thoroughly enjoyed working outside in an environment which is so pretty. I am very thankful for my week of working here and will hopefully some time soon in the future help out with the National T

The Serpentine Lake, picture by Tom

rust again.


My National Trust badge.

Will’s Blog

For the past week we have had 3 young people from Beechen Cliff School doing work experience. We have been very grateful for their contribution to the gardens.

As part of their work I have asked them to do a blog. Here is Will’s.

The Prior Park National Trust Gardens are an amazing place full of wildlife and friendly people, and thanks to the weather my time here has been even more enjoyable. I am very pleased and happy that I chose this job for my work experience (and I know that my other colleagues (Ibti and Tom) will agree with me). This experience has improved my gardening skills and has given me a basic insight into what it is like to work for someone and for my employer to put trust in me to get jobs done around the garden (e.g pruning willows and planting snowdrops). Furthermore, working at Prior Park has helped me talk to people I do not know (visitors of the park) and to work alongside adults and to be treated as one. I would definitely recommend anyone to have a go at volunteering at Prior Park or to do work experience here as it is a fantastic opportunity and you feel great at the end of the day because you know you have kept a National Trust Garden in good condition and have made the garden more enjoyable for the public. Finally, I would like to say thank you to Jim and the team for allowing me to work here and for giving me a really fantastic experience and I hope that Jim will allow me to work here again in the future as this week has been really good fun.

Finally, my favourite part of the week was going out on the boat with Jim and one of the volunteers and rescuing the Mute Swan egg. I have never done anything like this before and I felt really good after I had done it.

Seasonal Jobs

We have two seasonal posts available for the summer months

Seasonal Catering Assistant
£6.20 per hour | Start date Wednesday 4th April

Casual Visitor Reception Assistant
£7.97 per hour | Start date Monday 2nd April

We want everyone to have a brilliant National Trust experience. We want people to enjoy our extraordinary places, get involved with them and learn from them. By working here this summer, in everything from catering to visitor services, you’ll help us do just that. You’ll
enjoy some great benefits too, including free entry to our properties.
To find out more, please call… 01225 833977 or log on to

The welcoming sight of the Visitor Reception

The Great Leap Forward

As today only comes around once every 4 years The National Trust decided to make the most of it. We have had members of staff doing tasks they wouldn’t normally do around the local community. So out on the Bath Skyline, very close to Prior Park, we have had staff from all departments and sites working very hard removing encroaching scrub and thus exposing our rather splendid Yellow meadow ant hills. this way everyone benefits, the general public, the staff and the ants.

Some of the team that did all the hard work

Some of the scrub before we got to it

The Hawthorn after the team had got to it

Visitor Reception get together

The Visitor Reception staff get together before the 7 day week opening

At the beginning of February we will be open 7 days a week from 10am onwards. To let everyone know what is happening in and around the garden Katy our Visitor Experience Manager organised a meeting of all the Catering and Visitor Reception staff. Everyone was told all about all the projects around the park and  all the events that will be happening, from simple walks and trails to Shakespeare and Zen. More mundane things were also discussed such as rotas, opening times, procedures etc.

We will tell you more about events and projects as they happen, but won’t be dwelling on rotas.


For the past 2 days Matthew and myself have been on Tractor refresher training. We often have to keep up to date with latest thoughts on the safe way to maintain and use the huge variety of equipment and tools at our disposal. This time it was tractors we had a jolly if not slightly cold time up at Dyrham Park relearning the ins and outs of 3 point linkage, trailer weights, tyre pressures, front end loaders, towin………the list goes on. Thankfully we both past the assessment and are safe once again to drive tractors. This is a great relief as we rely very heavily on the little tractors we have here in the Park to transport equipment and materials around the place. Work as we know it would have ground to a halt if we had failed

One of our work horses used around the park.

Rainy day

We’re all warm and cosily tucked up in the office today but I ventured outside to take a few pictures in the rain. All our Halloween decorations are looking a bit bedraggled and forlorn but I managed to find some red berries that still looked cheerful! Huge respect to all the brave visitors who have ventured out into the garden, at least we have some lovely spicy pumpkin soup in the tea kiosk to warm them up!

Prior Park on BBC Radio Bristol

Early in September, Steve Yabsley, presenter of BBC Radi0 Bristol’s weekday lunchtime show, visited the garden. Jim showed him round and told him a bit about our work in the garden, its main features and the wildlife that can be seen. Steve will be featuring Prior Park on his show every day next week between 1.30-2!

The end of the 3 Parks and a Court walk

The team finally arrive outside of Bath Abbey at the end of a very enjoyable walk.

End of the Trek

Just a quick note to say we all finished the walk from Newark Park to Prior Park, via Horton and Dyrham, and no one got any blisters (to my knowledge). More on this when I return from my Holidays.

Three Parks and a Court Walk

For the next three days most of the outdoor staff for Bath & South Cotswold and lots of the volunteers are going to walk part of the Cotswold Way. We are starting at Newark Park and finishing here at Prior Park. On the way we will be taking in Horton Court and Dyrham Park. All rather nicely connected by the Cotswold Way. We will hopefully be having fun, as well as informing people about the work we do and the properties we look after.

The Shepherd

The walk should officially finish outside of the National Trust Shop near Bath Abbey at 4pm on Saturday. Our rather splendid Shepherd’s Hut should be there as well. Come along and see us if you can.

Steve Yabsley Records His Week

Steve Yabsley and Jim near the Bridge

We had a visit from Steve Yabsley yesterday. Steve hosts the weekday lunchtime show on Radio Bristol and came to have a look around the Park. Jim the Gardener showed him around and discussed the many splenders that can be seen. These included the Bridge (of course), lakes, wildlife, Wilderness, Cascade, Rock Gate, Serpentine Lake plus many more.

Hopefully various pieces,  about the Park will be aired sometime in early October. We will let you know exactly when they go out.

Meantime just to let you know, it’s pouring down outside, which will keep the lakes topped up at least!


Here are the winners and runners up of our ‘Capture the Day’ photo competition.

Well done to the winners and all the other entrants.

The winner of the over 18 catagory, by Tony Jiggins

The runner up over 18 category, Wendy Conner

The winner of the under 18 category, Ed Sampson

The runner up of under 18 category, Katy Spencer

The Outdoor Volunteers’ Big Outing

Every year we try and give the volunteers from all our sites, not just Prior Park, a bit of a thank you outing. Normally it is to exotic places far afield. This year has been slightly different as we took them on the Bath Skyline, our very own doorstep.

We had a good turnout of over 30 people all meeting near the American Museum in Bath. After a brief coffee and introductions everyone dutifully followed Matthew as he gave us a guided tour of part of the Skyline walk, including interesting facts about how it used to be a racecourse, a centre for quarrying and a pioneer in moving stone on a railway track.

This was followed by a splendid lunch in which everyone was heartily fed. As usual, it started to rain so onward to the American Museum, what a splendid place it is, full of mock ups of various rooms and periods from all over America, give it a go!

The team photo taken before we set off. Matthew explaining about the stone mines to be found in various places on the Skyline walk