To Bath, or not to Bath?

Mar 6th, 2003, 10:57 PM
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To Bath, or not to Bath?


My wife and I are going to England for 2 weeks in mid April. We plan to spend most of the time in London but would like to make at least one foray into the countryside. We're considering training to Bath, posssibly renting a car, and maybe spending a day or two driving around. Is Bath a good place to start from, what other towns/sites/areas in the vicinity should we consider visiting/spending the night in, what and it like driving in this area considering the mirror image effect?


brucen is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 12:47 AM
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I was in England in November. We took a train to Bath from London, but we did it at night (I'm sure we missed some beautiful scenery.) I really liked Bath, I could have stayed a day or two longer. My husband and I knew we didn't want to risk driving in Britain and it turns out we were right. We would have probably caused an accident. The public transportation and city bus tours were very reliable. In Bath we took a day tour that visited Stonehenge, Avebury, Lacock, and Castle Combe.

Remember to read the curbs when you're in London. They tell you which way to look before crossing the street. I almost lost my husband that trip.

step is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 03:45 AM
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If you're into British literature at all, you'd enjoy Bath because it was one of the home of Jane Austen. Bath is also famous for its Roman Baths, which can be toured. I really enjoyed the town with the hanging flowers and the 19th century feel of the city.

Another place to visit is Bristol which is right on a harbor. It is very pretty and a good sized city .. it is about 30 minutes north of Bath.

Another literary place to visit (and beautiful countryside) is Tintern Abbey (built in the mid-12th century) in Tintern, Wales, which is only 30 minutes (by bus) from Bristol. William Wordsworth wrote a poem titled "Tintern Abbey" after visiting the Abbey in 1793 and 1798. Anyways, the drive to Tintern is through a beautiful countryside with rolling hills and plenty of vines, ferns, etc.

Genesea is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 04:46 AM
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Hi Brucen,

I'd go to Bath, it's a great town. On my recent trip, we rented a car in London, drove to Stonehenge then spent a night is Salisbury (loved it!), then spent 2 nights in Bath. In the area, Castle Combe is really quaint (great if you like taking pictures), and there are lots of small towns around it - Devizes is nice, I think Chippenham is not too far etc. We went to Lacock on the way from Salisbury to Bath - the whole town is a Heritage site and it was very pretty also - they have a cute pub (the George Inn) that let us eat the bread and cheese we had bought in Salisbury while we drank a pint. Have a great time.
kaudrey is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 07:47 AM
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Bruce, will your time out of London be sandwiched between time in London? Which airport are you using?
jsmith is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Yes, Bath is certainly a good short trip outside of London. Takes just about 90 minutes to get there by rail from London's Paddington station. Hertz has a location at the Bath rail station, so you could even pickup/return a rental car there.

Bath is worth a couple of days...the city is an architectural gem. The Roman bath exhibit, spa pump rooms, cathedral, Georgian Crescent, and Putney Bridge are all highlights. Bath is a compact, walkable city.

The surrounding countryside is pleasant and driving is not that difficult. (There are whole, long postings on this site with opinions on driving in the UK).

Enjoy your trip

David White
[email protected]
KidsToLondon is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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I've been to England several times, and I usually spend most of my time in London.

But I also like to spend a couple of days in Bath. It is a wee bit on the touristy side, but I still like it. Interesting architecture. I recommend staying at the Queensberry Hotel (they have a wonderful restaurant.)
For a day trip from Bath, I'd recommend a drive through the Cotswolds. Simply lovely area. Cute little towns. Great antiques.
Have fun.
JackOneill is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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My family spent a day in Bath over the Christmas holidays. We took the train from London and upon arriving in Bath immediately took a tour of the city on a bustour located a couple of blocks from the train station. It rained off and on all day making sightseeing difficult. After a few hours we were ready to leave because the city was dark, cloudy and wet. We had a nice lunch, bought the usual trinkets, walked the streets and had an early dinner. Late in the afternoon we went to the train station and attempted to board an earlier train back to London. Our tickets were reserved for a later train and it would have cost more money to take the earlier train. We waited for our train and it was cancelled. They boarded us onto a packed bus that took us to another city ( I can't remember which one) where we boarded a crowded train to London. The trip to London in total took about three hours from the time we were supposed to board the train.
I'm sure Bath is great on a sunny day when all the flowers are in bloom. Whenever I see Bath mentioned though it reminds of a very long dismal, uncomfortable day which I would like to forget.
mendota98 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 10:20 AM
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Another 'literary' spot to visit from Bath is Hay-On-Wye, a town on the Welsh border. It is a small town, and a bit difficult to get to, but it is FILLED with used book stores. Of about 30 stores downtown, 20 of them are used book stores... a treat for a bibliophile!!!

However, while its not FAR from Bath, as the crow flies, the roads there are small and winding, so be warned!
GreenDragon is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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Bruce I've found you can't ever tell someone else whether or not to drive in England. The decision is very personal & depends upon...I'm not sure what! Friends of mine who had been to England before, but many years ago, wanted to drive from London to Bath for an overnight. I begged them not to-to take the train. I thought it was unneccessary hassle & the car is not needed in Bath. They insisted. Upon arriving in London & spending a few days watching traffic, they cancelled the car rental. (Unfortunately, they never got to Bath because there was a snow storm & the trains were cancelled!)

I understand this is not what you had in mind, but I ramble on the story as a way of saying noone else can tell you whether driving on the left will be a problem for you. If you're a confident, adventurous driver, book a car then see when you get there how you feel. Driving on a big multi-lane motorway with a median in the middle is not bad at all. It's the smaller roads between towns & in towns that can be challenging. You can always do a train or bus day trip to Bath or even a tour. If you do decide to wander a bit from Bath (I'd rent when you're leaving Bath so you don't have to worry about parking in Bath) it IS a good starting point either to continue northwest to Bristol or head back toward London with stops in charming towns like Bradford on Avon, Lacock, Devizes, Marlborough. Perhaps you could return the car in Newbury where I know there's train service to London. Both Stonehenge and Avebury are in driving distance from Bath as well.

An alternate plan would be to spend a day or two in the Cotswolds.
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 03:35 PM
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Bath is charming and as posted above, historically, architecturally delightful. You can take an off-on bus to reach the higher areas, get a view from above the city, then return and finish your visit on foot. A wonderful walking "Mayors Tour" (free) can be had twice daily starting near the info center (just show up) It is given by residents who are quite proud of their city and they give you wonderful insights not even found in the guide books. Bath is a treat - I would visit there any chance I could.
RosieM is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 03:41 PM
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Not too far from Bath is another gem, Wells, with its wonderful cathedral.
Grandma is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 03:44 PM
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To jsmith:
Yes, our venture into the countryside will have generous slices of London on both sides. We are coming in through Heathrow.
brucen is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 03:48 PM
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A second recommendation for the Mayors tour. My sister and I were in Bath in May. We had gotten to the info center just as the tour left and hurried to try to catch up. We joined a group that we thought was the free tour and were politely told to leave. That particular group was part of some commercial tour. Later we found the Mayors tour conducted by a lovely lady who gave a wonderful commentary on her city. At the end she even refused a tip from another tour member. She said to give the money to the Abbey.
Carla is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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Brucen, go ahead and rent a car. You will be going very short distances and if you avoid driving in the dark should have no trouble. Daylight savings begins March 30 so sunset is about 7:40 in mid April.

You can do a nice tour to Wells, Glastonbury and Salisbuty. Drop the car in Salisbury and take the train back to London. If you want to be a little more aggressive, Salisbury to Oxford is about 63 miles and Oxford has excellent train and bus connections to London.

If you decide to go to the country at the end of your London sojourn, there is a direct connection from Oxford to Heathrow.

Anyhow, enjoy.

jsmith is offline  
Mar 7th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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Brucen, realized I'd omitted Stourhead, betwwen Wells and Salisbury, an awesome example of English landscape design. If the rhododendrons are in blosson it is fantastic. Does anybody know the flowering schedule?
jsmith is offline  
Mar 8th, 2003, 06:23 AM
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Thanks everybody for all your great responses.
brucen is offline  
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