View of Bath
Courtesy of visitbath.co.uk
Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus
The golden, locally-quarried limestone of Bath’s buildings still shimmered, even though it was raining. The green hills in the far distance stood out against the grey sky. A city that can look this magnificent on a cold, rainy English winter’s day is a remarkable sight.
Snuggled in the valley of the River Avon with the Cotswold Hills to the north and the Mendips to the south, Bath is renowned for its Georgian architecture and for its thermal springs. So, my first port of call was the Roman Baths.
It was amazing to find myself walking around this huge, well-preserved, steaming pool on ancient stone pavements that the Romans had walked on almost 2,000 years ago. It was about AD43 that they began building the baths and a temple, dedicated to the goddess Minerva, as well as establishing the city of Aquae Sulis (the Roman name for Bath).
The Roman plumbing and drainage system, I discovered, is largely in place. I wish I could find builders who were half as good today. You can’t visit the baths without “taking the waters” in the Pump Room. Served from a rusty old fountain, this water, which you drink, reputedly, contains 43 minerals. It’s warm and is rather an acquired taste but, as they say, when in Rome ...
I took a city tour with the Bath Bus Company to orientate myself and to get a quick history lesson about the main sights, such as the Abbey, before doing my own exploring. The beauty of Bath is that every time you turn a corner or wander down one of its small lanes you discover another surprise such as a quirky boutique or a great café. Sally Lunn’s, renowned for its Sally Lunn Bath Bun, is not to be missed.
The Georgian townhouses that filled the Royal Crescent looked even better in reality than in photographs. I half-expected to see Mr Darcy walk out of one. As I am a fan of Jane Austen’s novels, I headed to The Jane Austen Centre to gen up on the life of Bath’s treasured resident. Jane spent five years in the city which crops up in all six of her completed works.
Courtesy of visitbath.co.uk
Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus / Colin Hawkins
The Fashion Museum is a must-see. It showcases clothes from the past and present. There were some evening dresses from the 1930s that I would love to wear today.
Bath has plenty of great restaurants such as the atmospheric Firehouse Rotisserie, a favourite with locals and tourists as the food is good and reasonably priced. I also enjoyed the chic Circo, bar and lounge at The Halcyon, one of the city’s boutique hotels, where I stayed. The service is good and the rooms well-furnished. Ensure you ask for a quiet room, otherwise you could find the traffic keeps you awake all night.
A real treat was going to the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in warm, mineral-rich waters. The open-air rooftop pool was full of people taking in the views of the city, even though the temperature outside was close to freezing.
After a relaxing massage, I had enough time before I had to catch my train to take a walk along the river. The sun was now shining and the Pulteney Bridge, England’s answer to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, looked resplendent in all its glory.
By Daralyn Danns
The Halycyon www.thehalcyon.com
I travelled with First Great Western www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk
For more information on Bath, visitbath.co.uk