If you know some English, you may wonder where the name Bath comes from. And, unlike in other occasions where logic and result do not go hand in hand, you’ll get it right if you think it comes from their baths. The city grew up around Roman thermal baths and is now a World Heritage Site for this and many other reasons.
Bath is in Somerset County, less than an hour’s drive from Bristol Airport (the nearest international airport), and less than 200 km from central London.
And, very importantly, Bath is considered the gateway to the Cotswolds, the authentic English countryside, from the south of that “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
But although Bath is the main gateway to the stone villages and green fields of the Cotswolds, it’s worth it as a destination of its own for a UK getaway.
In addition to the fact that my colleague David has just written about the Roman Baths of Bath, here is a video about Bath at the end of this post, with our experience of a weekend in the city.
The places where we’ve eaten, the visits we’ve made and the areas we’ve moved through are:
These gardens, bordered by the Avon River on one side and the historic centre of Bath on the other, offer a green respite to the walker. In addition, they have been awarded on several occasions for their seasonal floral carpets.
Completed in 1774, the Pulteney Bridge linked the city with the lands of the Pulteney family. A rare peculiarity is that it is one of the few bridges in the world (right now the Ponte Vecchio in Florence comes to mind) whose sides are, in all their extension, permanently dedicated to shops and trades.
Bath Abbey is the third religious building to be erected in the same location. The abandonment, which left it homeless, led to a national fundraiser in the 16th century, promoted by Queen Elizabeth I to restore its splendour.
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Roman Baths of Bath
Like the Celts before them, the Romans discovered the goodness of the mineral hot water spring emerging from the land in Bath. Around it, and a few years after invading Britannia, they built probably the best preserved thermal baths in the United Kingdom. Very close to them, in the Thermae Bath Spa you can have the same experience, or almost, as the Romans.
The Pump Room
If the expression “tea time” means anything, that’s the experience in this exclusive, but public, room adjacent to the Roman Baths. But if you’re not on time, you can always have breakfast or eat here.
Jane Austen Center
The Jane Austen Center, which in addition to a museum includes a tea room, is dedicated to the writer Jane Austen. In addition to spending long periods here, there are two of his novels set in Bath and other works mention the city.
Nothing to do with clowns and trapeze artists, The Circus is a residential complex of three-storey townhouses, forming a circle and only cut by three wheeled accesses. It is a magnificent representation of Georgian architecture from 1768.
Continuation of The Circus, which is very well appreciated in the video because one of the three routes of The Circus extends until the beginning of the royal crescent (Royal Crescent), this is another magnificent Georgian work. With the idea of “taking the countryside to the city”, the 30 townhouses look opposite each other at the Royal Victoria Park, a green space inaugurated by the future Queen Victoria in 1830, when she was only 11 years old.
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Bath’s oldest house is also probably the city’s oldest restaurant. It is said that a young French woman arrived here, fleeing religious persecution, and began to work in the bakery. Based on recipes and French flavors, made a bun that soon triumphed as a complement to when drinking tea.
Sally Lunn´s houses in its basement a small museum-shop with the oven and workshop, as well as Roman remains found in it during archaeological excavations. The ground floor and the first floor are dedicated to a small restaurant which is an experience in itself.
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Although you may have seen in the video that the March weather alternated clouds with sunshine and clear skies with rain, that is what could be expected from a few days before the unstable Spring.
But even if it rains, Bath is one of those small, historic cities that deserves to be walked through calmly.
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