After a relaxing two nights of camping, Dan and I ventured into the picturesque city of Bath, set in the rolling countryside of Somerset, for a little side trip on our drive home.
Bath is a day trip favorite for Londoners at only an hour and a half journey time away with direct trains leaving regularly from both Waterloo and Paddington stations. Known for its Georgian and Victorian architecture, Jane Austen literary ties, and the natural hot springs utilized not only by the 1st century Romans who settled in the region but modern day visitors who come to bathe in the same warm waters at the Thermae Bath Spa. We were a little worried about finding street parking on a weekend for the campervan but the Bath Cricket Club offered plenty of parking within easy walking distance of the high streets (click here for a fantastic map of Bath city centre) and only cost £5.80 for 4 hours.
One of the most well known sights in the UNESCO World Heritage designated city is The Roman Baths, a museum at the site of the original Roman baths that welcomes over a million visitors annually. Located next to Bath Abbey, the last remaining Gothic church in Britain, the museum offers visitors a glimpse into Roman life in Aquae Sulis, the town’s then moniker, and a chance to explore some of the restored ruins of the grand temple and bathing complex built by the Roman settlers around the natural springs.
Built between 70-76 AD and dedicated to the goddess Sulis whom the Romans identified with Minerva, the baths have been both lost, discovered, and modified several times over the centuries. The original Roman Baths were not discovered until the late 19th century and extensive conservation has been undertaken in the last few decades. The museum offers free audioguides to all patrons as well as a specially narrated guide for children. Checking out The Roman Baths is a must do while in Bath!
After viewing the Roman Baths we made our way up the High Street, stopping for a quick lunch before crossing the Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon to stroll along the Riverside Walk south toward the Half Penny Bridge. Along the ledges of the Pulteney Bridge sat a dozen pigeons lazily lounging away the afternoon rather than being nuisances at the outdoor cafes nearby, a sight I had never seen before!
I lament that we didn’t have a full day to spend in Bath as a river cruise would have been a relaxing way to spend the afternoon and view the city. For those interested, Pulteney Cruisers offers one hour scenic river cruises that depart regularly from Pulteney Bridge to the village of Bathampton with live commentary on the history, architecture & points of interest along the river.
From the Half Penny Bridge we circled back up along the Kennet & Avon Canals, admiring the various houseboats moored along the waterway and examining the series of locks used to lift and lower the boats from one level to another as they navigate the canals.
Though it was a short outing, Dan and I had a wonderful time exploring the Roman baths and meandering along the canalways. The city offers much more hidden gems to be discovered and as its only a short train journey away we will definitely be returning again in the near future!