Short weekend escapes nicely breaks the work routine. We can't always escape abroad. There is a limit on how many holidays we can have when working/studying full-time. Sadly.
We are so used to travelling 2h+ that the 4h+ trip to the city of Bath was not a burden at all. After all, spending time with lovely friends is more important than extra hours of travelling, isn't it?☺
Bath is also around 2hours train journey from London. If you are visiting London, add an extra day and visit Bath.
City of Bath is the only city in Britain to achieve a World Heritage Site! It is fascinating that most of the buildings in the city are built using local gold-coloured stone known as Bath stone. Georgian architecture is dominant in the city, which adds an extra charm to the city.
Our day trip started with a guided walk from the Bath Abbey. There are free guided walks available in the morning or afternoon organised by Footprints or Stay in Bath. No booking is required, you just turn up at the schedule time at the meeting spot. We joined the Footprints walk tour as we couldn't make the Stay in Bath tour. Guides for Footprint tours are local students. The tour runs for approx. 2 hours. It is great, if you don't have much time in the city and want to see and learn about the main attractions in a short time. Perfect for one day trips!👌
To be honest before the visit to Bath I have not thought about looking for free guided walks. I have learnt that free guided walks are available in most popular cities not only in UK but in Europe in general. Note for myself: something to consider when planning a city break.
1. Bath Abbey
My first impression was- so intricately decorated facade. I haven't seen a facade of a church like this before! Interestingly, three different churches were established at this site since 725AD: Anglo-Saxon monastery, then massive Norman cathedral, and finally the present Abbey Church was founded in 1499, the last of great medieval churches in England. The first King of all England, King Edgar was crowned on this site in 973.
The most interesting decoration of the west front of the Abbey is the unusual ladders of Angels. The story of the ladders of Angels tells that the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King is said to have had a dream of ascending and descending angels, which has inspired the design of the facade.
2. Roman Baths
Roman Baths is probably the most visited attraction in the city of Bath. The first shrine at the site of the hot springs was built by Celts, and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. Romans continued to use the name Sulis, which explains the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis ("the water of Sulis"). Waters of hot springs were thought to have healing properties as legend told that leprosy of the British king Bladud was cured after submerging in these waters.
The water that flows through the Roman Baths is considered to be unsafe for bathing, partly due to having passed through the still-functioning original lead pipes. Interestingly, until Word War II the baths were advertised on the basis of radioactivity it contained. Apparently, in the past people would put small pieces of lead in the wine for it to taste better.
You can pick an audioguide or even better join a free hourly guided walk, which starts from the Great Bath. At the end of your trip visit the Pump Room and try a spa water containing 42 minerals and believed to have healing powers. The taste of this spa water was probably the same many years ago during Roman times!
3. Pulteney Bridge
The Pulteney Bridge was completed in 1774 and its uniqueness comes from shops built across its full span on both sides. There are very few bridges across the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. The design of the bridge was influenced by Venice and Florence style bridges. It is a lovely bridge. Some go as far as stating that the Pulteney Bridge, together with the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, is one of the world's most beautiful bridges.
4. The Royal Crescent
Bath is a Georgian city and famous not only for Roman baths but also for Georgian architecture, especially Georgian crescents. The one that you have may seen in movies is the Royal Crescent. It is semicircular terrace of majestic town houses overlooking the green sweep of Royal Victoria Park. The crescent has 114 columns! Front facades of all houses look the same as no alterations are allowed. However, one front door is coloured primrose yellow and stands out from the rest. How much trouble yellow painted door can cause? Well, in 1972, Miss Wellesley-Colley who painted her front door and windows primrose yellow instead of the traditional white had to fight two enforcement orders from Bath City Council and defend herself at a public enquiry. It was finally declared that the door could remain yellow.
You can visit the No.1 Royal Crescent to see lives of of eighteenth century Bathonians.
5. The Circus
Just couple minutes from the Royal Crescent there are another three crescents making an oval- The circus. Originally, it was called King's Circus. In the middle of the Circus is a huge tree. Try to stand in the middle under the tree and make a sound to hear the echo!
Dinner at Sally Lunn's
Our friends suggested to have dinner at the Sally Lunn's House. We were quite lucky as we didn't need to wait long for a table. The Sally Lunn is famous for the Sally Lunn's Bun- and original Bath bun. It is also the oldest house in Bath, dating back to 1482. According to the legend, Sally Lunn was a French refugee and after arriving in Bath in 1680 opened a bakery. The famous Sally Lunn's Bun is made with a secret recipe, which is passed with the deeds to the Sally Lunn's house, and many have tried to replicate it but original is only in Bath.
If you are looking for a charm and nice food, this is definitely a place to try! It is just couple minutes from the Bath Abbey.
There is also a museum in the building showing the original kitchen Sally Lunn has used.
Thermae Bath Spa!
Thermal open-air pool on the rooftop with views of the Bath Abbey- can it be better? It is a pricey experience (on weekends £40 for 2hours) but worth it. It is also very busy! Be prepared to wait in the queue, especially in the weekend. I think we queued for about 1.5hours.
What is special about it? Well, it is the only spa in UK with naturally warm and mineral-rich waters. In addition to the roof-top pool, it also has indoor pool, steam rooms, and everything else that you expect in spas.
Sorry, I have no pictures but you can visit their site to see how it looks.
Relaxing end to the day at Bath!