Set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, Bath hardly needs an introduction… it is famous for Jane Austen, its 18th-century Georgian architecture and the Roman baths. In fact it was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa.
Honey-coloured limestone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including the museum built over the original Roman-era Baths and the Abbey. We didn’t need a car. Bath is compact and once again the hop-on-hop-off buses took us everywhere we wanted to go (although not quite as reliable and convenient as in other cities). Don’t bother with the secondary tour that circles above Bath in hopes of a panorama; the city views are obscured by trees etc. and you barely get a glimpse.
Historic Pulteney Bridge built in 1774 over River Avon (photos above and below). It is sometimes compared to Ponte Vecchio in Venice because of the rows of stores lining each side.
A few people from early 18th-century, Jane Austen’s era:
No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the Royal Crescent. The 30 terraced houses with ionic columns, laid out in a sweeping curve and fronted by this expanse of green, have been seen in many period movies.
We were lucky to be there when a dog was demonstrating how she could herd geese. In the 3rd slide below, she drove the whole gaggle across the red bridge.
In planning this trip, we debated whether to see Stonehenge and decided not to. (The actual stones are fenced off for protection, and somehow we didn’t think we would feel the “mystical power,” sharing our time with the crowds.) After all we’d already wandered through Castlerigg Stones in the Lake Country mists, so now we decided to visit the Neolithic Avebury Henge on our way to the Cotswolds. The term “henge” applies to most of these stones monuments, but the definition includes a large circular bank and a ditch. A path has been built over the surviving ditch in the photo below. This prehistoric site, contains the largest megalith circle in Europe and features two inner stone rings. In fact to really appreciate the size you need an aerial view; note the mound around the perimeter and the excavated ditch just inside. Incredibly labor intensive, it was constructed over several hundred years circa 3000BC.
Avebury village first began cropping up around one edge of the monument during the Early Middle Ages, eventually extending into it. In the ensuring centuries a large number of the stones were re-used as building materials, buried or destroyed because of their association with paganism, but many remain or have been restored.
One nice thing about Avebury is the lack of gaudy commercialism that accompanies so many world class sites. We could hike among the stones and wander through the village. Do you think we made the right choice? We do!