Like anybody who’d seen the long weekend coming up, it seemed like a good time to get out of London. I haven’t made much of an effort to see the rest of England (it’s something I’m working on), so this long weekend I ended up in the famous city of Bath. It’s a fantastically old city with plenty of historical buildings that date way back to the Roman era. There are plenty of tours and guides around town, and of course plenty of tourists to go with them. In fact, in summer and on beautiful days you’ll find the little streets, and the tourist attractions such as the Roman Baths almost claustrophobically busy. Luckily we missed most of the busy periods and still got to see all the things that we wanted to see.
We left Paddington at a ridiculous hour of 6:30am Saturday morning in order to arrive in time for a Madmax tour that took us to nearby Stonehenge, Avery, Lacock and Castle Coombe. I’d been warned by friends that Stonehenge is nothing to make a special trip out for, and they were very much correct. The stones aren’t as high as you’d imagine, blown out of proportion by photos and films, and the circle is also not as big as you’d imagine, with the stones in Avery much larger in diameter. It’s still worth seeing though and still looks magnificent after all the tourists that come by and see it. You walk anti-clockwise around the stones based on the tour guide, although one guy who was randomly going up to people said that it’s better to go clockwise to “tap into its energies”. We gave it a try, but didn’t find it really did anything but give us a good way to escape his crazy rantings. Visiting Avery if you’re in the area is recommended with a greater circle of stones, and a much larger henge that effectively encompassed the entire town.
Must do activities if you come to Bath include seeing the inside of the Roman Baths who now have Bill Bryson offering additional commentary on their audio tour. It’s also worth going up to the French markets for a look around, and then up to Victoria Park that has some stunning gardens and the very expensive houses along the Crescent Road. There’s an excellent walking tour that local guides conduct for free (meeting Sunday morning at 10:30am outside the Pump Rooms at the Roman Baths) taking you along to many of the historical sites. We even had a small celebrity spot on our walking tour, seeing Nicholas Cage coming out of his newly purchased home (apparently for £4m!) just near Victoria Park.
In terms of food there are plenty of options to choose from, though it’s better if you call ahead and book especially for weekends. The nearby cities of Somerset and Bristol are home to many of Michelin starred restaurants though you will need a car to get to any of them. Bath also has plenty of options for cream tea and for something a little bit more traditional, the famous Sally Lunn’s is well worth the wait just to taste a very strange light and airy bun.
Bath is a great city break destination and although there are plenty of tourists around, it’s historical significance and architectural might easily make up for all the bustle.