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  • Writer's pictureGirlWellTravelled

Bath, Easily a Day Trip or Short Stay Getaway

Obliged to be the dutiful mother I am not, I found myself exiting Bath Spa Railway Station at the behest of the teenager. Her wanting to visit her friend, she'd met on a 2019 cruise. 

The plan, a galivant around the town, get lost down an obscure cobbled street or two until her friend arrives. 

But, the eagle-eyed globe-trotter in me spots some map-toting holidaymakers, and I follow. 

Because, sometimes, just sometimes, it's OK to follow the crowd. 

The Roman Baths

And following them, we rambled alongside the Roman Baths.

Mom, can we go in? 
Uhmm, do we have to?
Mom, anyone coming to the city of Bath has to go to the Roman Baths.

Though last I knew, that little nugget was never on the cards, but I kept quiet. I only had myself to blame for following the crowd.

Thirty-two pounds lighter, daughter happy, an audio guide to my ear, we descended the temple—a temple dedicated to Sulis Minerva. The goddess of these hot springs, the Romans built it around.

Head of Sulis Minerva

At 10:30 on a weekday morning, there's no queue worth mentioning. The sun even agreed to grace us with its presence out in the baths. 

Pools naturally heated to some thirty-seven degrees; it was a nice day for a swim, except nothing about the water invited it. A quick chat with staff highlighted no one had swum in these baths since the seventies. I'm surprised.

So what's the pull? I audibly ask myself.

Because if you want to enjoy the mineral-rich, naturally heated spring waters, that's another minute's walk away at Thermae Bath Spa. And there, one of their twilight rooftop pool sessions has got my calling. 

The teenager is enjoying it. Much more than I'd imagined. Because this is the same teenager who despised our museum pursuits and had no interest in our gallery explorations of years past.

But if she's happy, so am I.

The younger kids around, too, were thoroughly engaged. Their delight present on their faces. 

From the Temple Pediments to the Temple Courtyard, to the Sacred Springs, the East Baths, West Baths and Great Baths, Spa Water Fountains and Pump Rooms, we did the tour round. Walking upwards of an hour and a half, though it never felt like it. The exercise, coupled with the faint smell of sulphur here and there, left us parched.

Tip: Come evenings, The Courtyard can be viewed by the flickering light of torches.

Coffee Stop

In the Abbey Church Yard, immediately outside the baths, Mokoko Coffee and Bakery occupies a prime spot for sunny alfresco dining and people-watching.

A text message says the friend is delayed.

I treat us to hot coffee and freshly made sandwiches from my new favourite coffee shop until she arrives.

Caffeinated, we continue the ramble along shiny cobblestoned town streets, splurging on the kind of shopping that has no bearing on the purse strings. Shop window after window, revealing known brands and unique independents. Some I'm rediscovering, others, uncovering. 

Her friend arrives, I am now on my lonesome.

The River Avon

I change my wander to something a little more pacifying, running water. 

A five-minute walk brings me waterside and Pulteney Bridge with the river Avon meandering through the city, giving it life, giving me life. 

Tip: The Grand Parade gives you the best vantage point of Pulteney Bridge and The Bridge Coffee Shop on the bridge, coveted waterside views of the Pulteney Weir.

A Riverside Restaurant

Fuelling life, I follow the burbling river around in the same direction for another twenty minutes; it brings me to The Bathwick Boatman Riverside Restaurant. Today, this boat house with outdoor seating and a lovely riverside setting is closed.

Such a crying shame. I could have readily lost the remainder of the afternoon here. But everything for a reason, they say.

Like me, you can put this on your list of riverside restaurants to try when next in Bath.

And if, again, like me, you find yourself in Bath on a weekday this restaurant is closed, here's Bath's only Michelin offer - the Olive Tree Restaurant. It's made its way into The Good Food Guide, has three AA Rosettes and has confidently held its Michelin Star since 2018. The good news, there's no months-long waiting list to join.

No text from the teenager, and I wasn't expecting one anytime soon. I wander back towards the Railway Station.

The Circus

Another twenty-minute gallivant takes me to The Circus. Centuries-old, curved columned honey-coloured buildings of that renowned bath stone.

This ring of buildings, called The Circus, is a landmark. The plane trees of the circle lauding over it all.

The Royal Crescent and The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

And some spitting distance away from The Circus is the Royal Crescent.

A row of thirty Grade I listed buildings forms this sweeping crescent where No 16 must be the best address.

Why? Because, although only in Bath on a dash of a trip, if I were to make a more extended stay of it, residence No 16 is where I'd dwell. The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. 

With foundations going back 250 years, it has history and prides itself as one of the world's only landmark buildings you can sleep in. 

It's got the location, it's storied and it receives the Bridgerton stamp of approval. The additional trimmings of a spa with a couples' treatment room, pool and valet parking are sufficiently attractive to encourage a weekend there.

Tip: Bridgerton fans, you'd be one of The Tons, staying here.

A World Heritage City, university town and famed Roman Baths, this place is of interest to anyone into architecture, history, and wanting a culture fix. The usual suspects - Bath Spa, The Circus and the Royal Crescent.

This very British city is a visit in any season. Chester boots with woolly socks for the colder months and ballet pumps in the summer. And should the English weather do a very British turn on you, you can turn your weekend into a retail therapy session. If only to buy the more appropriate clothing. 

Yet having covered this much in a day trip, I'd readily pack a weekend bag for an extended stay.

And unlike me, be in the know and sink your teeth into some Bath Buns while you are there.

The city of Bath's calendar is an array of seasonal events, festivals. From Christmas markets to kayaking and hot air ballooning.

Given that I was an accidental day-tripping tourist tell me what I may have missed. What should I put on the list of future visits to Bath? I'd love to hear your nuggets of things to see and do below.

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