Editor’s note: I am delighted to introduce you all to Mandy Meehan, our newest writer at The Royal Tour. I met Mandy when I was preparing a trip to Marseille, France, since she was living there and had an Instagram full of incredible photos that I stumbled upon. We have been close friends ever since! In her first article, she talks about one of my favorite spots in England: Bath. You can read my take on the city here. To read more about Mandy and see all of her articles, visit her index page.
Bath is a small city (population approx. 100,000) located in the southwest of England. It’s an easy day trip from Bristol or Cardiff (less than 30 minutes by train from Bristol) or even London (about 90 minutes by train). Bath was founded by the Romans in the first century AD as a recreational spa due to the natural underground hot springs.
This is a walking tour of the city that is perfect in these pandemic times, but also pleasant on a nice day and one hundred percent free of charge – which is my favorite type of tour. I made a map of the general route which you can access here. Whether you’re coming by bus or train, your starting point will be the Bath Spa train station, and the first stop in the middle of the city center is the Roman Spa. If the country isn’t on full lockdown, the museum does timed visits and is well-worth the rather steep admission price; it’s amazingly well curated and it’s absolutely fascinating. Following that, it’s a few short steps to the Bath Abbey, a gorgeous cathedral built in various stages between the 9th and 14th centuries. If the option is given, I would strongly recommend doing the Abbey Tour, as you get taken up to the rooftop and get an amazing bird’s eye view of the city center and a peek into the Roman Baths.
The interior of Bath Abbey
You’ll then stroll north for a few minutes to catch a view of Pulteney Bridge crossing over the River Avon. The bridge was completed in 1774 and is unique in having shops/restaurants spanning both sides. (Bridge Coffee shop has a lovely view of the river and weir if you need a break.) After this, you’ll head to The Circus which is a fine example of the Georgian architecture for which Bath is famous. The circular design of the buildings was meant to mimic Stonehenge. Next up is the Royal Crescent, another example of Georgian architecture which sits at the edge of Victoria Park.
The Royal Crescent
So far this tour is relatively flat, but now it’s time to climb some of Bath’s famous hills. Up Lansdown Hill, you’ll come across Camden Crescent. Not only are the townhouses gorgeous, but across the way, you can see the city of Bath beneath you. The walk takes you through some residential areas of Bath and it’s hard not to be amazed by the beauty. You’ll notice that many of the buildings share a goldenish color as the majority of the buildings were made using the local Bath stone. You’ll come down the hill onto London Road and you’ll walk until you hit Morrison’s. This isn’t an actual stop on your tour; we’re about to go off the beaten path. Behind the supermarket, past the entrance and parking lot in the far left back corner, you’ll be able to get through to Kennsington Meadow, where you’ll be able to walk along the River Avon through a lovely wooded area alongside the meadow, at which point you will come across a bridge taking you over the river and along to the Kennet-Avon Canal. I love this; it’s off the main road and supports pedestrians and cyclists so it’s quite peaceful. The path has a stop in Sydney Gardens which has lovely areas for picnicking and exploring.
The Kennet-Avon Canal
You’ll continue along the canal path until you get to the Widcombe area to head to your final destination of this walking tour, Alexandra Park. Ideally, this stop should be timed with the sunset as it’s gorgeous to watch from here. Regardless, this park provides one of the best views of the city of Bath and an ideal endpoint. You can have fun trying to locate all your stops from earlier in the day.
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