A day out in Bath

Roman Baths, Bath Bath is an elegant city. It is a place for frock coats and gowns and afternoon tea. Wander into Bath Abbey and marvel at its buttresses, hear glorious music echo round its rafters. Visit the Roman Baths, forgive the smell and imagine the hoi polloi lounging in its steaming waters. Take tea in the Pump Rooms, where the piano tinkles and cream cakes are piled high, and see yourself in a Jane Austen novel. Take your swimsuit, return to the delights of the twenty-first century, and lie in the warm waters of the Thermae Bath Spa with steam rising and sky stretched above you.

Come back down to earth – and step away from the crowds. Wander down a passageway or two. Risk getting lost. For the hidden delights of Bath lie in her back streets, and you’ve walking to do to see them. Peer through the railings of the old Cross Bath, disused now but once its pongy waters were thought to cure paralysis, skin conditions and gout. Potter about the lanes, explore the hidden squares and passageways. Imagine – not so long ago – this was the world of urchins and scallywags. Women of a certain profession stood in the corners and beckoned you in. Stroll through the old market – so civilized now but once it echoed with the cries of traders and stank of meat.

Jane Austen Centre, Bath Pause at Pulteney Bridge. You may dress in Jane Austen finery here. Indeed, if you want to go in the shops it is possibly obligatory, for I suspect that anyone with a backpack is exiled to Australia if they set foot in one.

Then take off your gowns and step back into the mayhem. Slip down Westgate Street to find the Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, established here in 1739. When it was first opened patients had to pay £3 on arrival – the fare for their transport home, or burial (often the latter). Beneath a nearby wall – there is a small plaque here to remind you – are remains of the medieval city. Just think of the decades of men and women who have tramped up this street.

Stride up Milson Street. It is full of fashionable shops now. Look up – for signs high on the walls direct you to the ‘Circulating Library and Reading Rooms’ and, close by, to the Brush Manufacturers: factories cheek by jowl with learning. If you carry on up the hill you’ll find the Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms. They have a ‘corsets and crinolines’ display where you can try on reproduction garments. If you thought winklepickers and roll-ons were uncomfortable, you’ll be humbled to think that men and women had to spend their days trussed up in clothes like this.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath You’ve made it to the Royal Crescent, with glorious sweep of elegant houses. Here, if you wish, you can don your imaginary dresses and top hats again, and lie on the grass to watch the sun go down. Maybe a twenty-first century balloon will sweep across the sky above you, wake you with the whooshing from its burners. If you have another day here, there are few better ways to see this lovely city than from the sky.

But this evening you have no time. For, if you are well organized, you have tickets for the theatre. Pause, on your way back, by two tiny buildings in Queens Park Place: these are the only surviving sedan chairmen’s houses. Men would sit with their pipes and wait for business, much as taxi drivers do today. Your feet may be aching by now, but think how their lives must have been, running backwards and forwards through the streets of Bath with those too idle (or to rich) to walk. So much has changed, yet these magical corners in Bath remind us of the history than lives on in its graceful streets.

Read Jo Carroll’s review about Combe Grove Manor Hotel

210 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Jo Carroll

Author & worldwide traveller

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Geoff Moore joined events across the island to celebrate Liberation Day, one of the most important dates in Guernsey’s calendar…
The Royal Shakespeare Company offers far more than just live theatre as Gillian Thornton found out on a visit to…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.