A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10 - Walking around Bath

Seeing the sights around Bath: The Circus, The Assembly Rooms, Waterstones Bookstore, Bath Abbey, Sally Lunn’s Eating House, Pulteney Bridge.

sunny 20 °C
View Cotswold Way, England on Laura Walking's travel map.

This morning I was startled awake by birds singing. I’m serious! It was so intense, and so close… I actually thought it was some sort of alarm clock set to “bird songs” as the alarm tone! Either that or there were actually birds in my room! It was not an unpleasant sound to wake up to… just a little surprising! (There are certainly worse ways to wake up!) When I regained my faculties, I looked out the window on that side of the room, and saw that there was a big tree practically right against the window… which is probably where my wake-up call came from!

I got dressed and ready for breakfast which starts at 8 am on Saturdays. I was not concerned about needing to have my big pack ready because I am on my own now with it, lugging it around myself! They had a huge buffet style breakfast set-up with many delicious and tempting choices. Always a good way to start the day. From my table I could see the old stone toll bridge, and the bottleneck where cars had to slow to share one lane while crossing it. From the rolling landscape out the other windows, it looked like we were somewhere in the countryside… a peaceful scene with sheep grazing under dark rainy-looking clouds (it had poured rain part of the night)… yet we’re actually only a few minutes away from Bath’s city centre.

In addition to the things I listed yesterday that I would like to see and do in Bath, another thing I will need to do - probably first - is move from this hotel to the Guesthouse I will be staying in, (also in Bath), for the next two nights. It will be really nice not to have to pack up the big backpack at all, for a morning, and just go out and do things right away! So I asked the very helpful young woman at hotel reception here, to call a taxi for me. The driver was there almost immediately and took me across town to my new accommodations. It was still fairly early in the day, and too early to get into my room, but that was fine. All I wanted to do was drop off the big pack and then look around town for a while. So that’s what I did!

Despite how the day had started, grey and ominous, it turned out to be a sunny, hot 20*C! Basically a lovely summer day! It sure didn’t seem like the end of October today! While walking around, I was very hot, and saw people in shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, you name it - all kinds of summer attire! Unfortunately I could only change jackets, as that was all I had with me.

I easily found my way back down (yes, everything is on a hill here!) to the centre of town… almost retracing the route that the taxi had taken in getting me here. I tend to have a visual memory, and remember landmarks more than I would street names. I was purposely paying attention when being driven here, so that helped a lot!

I had done some online research last night and so had made a bit of a plan for today that might help me see many of the things I am interested in seeing. As luck - or previous planning - would have it, this guesthouse is up near The Circus, not too far from The Royal Crescent; two of the items on my “to see” list… mainly to do with the amazing historical architecture of this city. Because they are so close, I thought I would start further away and work my way back up! My plan was to walk down to Bath Abbey first, but got a little side-tracked! I came across The Assembly Rooms, which was designed… for fashionable gatherings of the day. Two hundred years later, it is still the most elegant meeting place in Bath. In fact when I saw the sign at the entrance, it said it was closed to visitors. They were setting up for a wedding later today. You could look into the rooms where the people involved were setting tables and putting bows on chairs, but there were ropes at the open doors. Wow! Is all I can say! The rooms were spectacular… and the set up for the wedding was incredible! I took pictures, and bought a small souvenir book. If any of you reading this have watched the Bridgerton series on Netflix, (I just read about this last night!), those rooms are where the actual large Ballroom scenes were filmed. Immense chandeliers hanging from the ceiling… like a fairytale! The facade of another handsome and formidable house in town stands in for one of the character’s homes, and so on. There are many parts of Bath where the series is filmed, because of its appropriate look and accuracy for the time period.

After leaving The Assembly Rooms, I saw a bookstore. It was called Waterstones. Fantastic bookstore! Every type of book you could ever want or need or imagine… plus gifts, cards, etc. On two floors; an enormous and very well organized, spacious store! It might have been a mistake to go in there, as I can easily spend hours in a bookstore, but I was attracted to the cafe on the second floor. So I sat for a moment to regroup and have coffee. They had a huge travel section - of walking routes just within England! And a whole wall of different maps to select… I was incredulous, and took pictures!

Then I walked down to Bath Abbey. This is the large church - still in use today - where the Cotswold Way path begins and ends. There is a circular stone in the pavement outside the church, identical to the one in Chipping Campden where (for me) the path started. They were commissioned from the same artist. I had to wait for a minute or two for the crowd to part, to take a picture or two. Then I went into the Abbey itself. Beautiful interior. Beautiful stained-glass windows; stories behind each memorial stone laid in the ground and on the walls. There were people in period costume here, and one fellow wearing a scallop shell and carrying a staff and gourd looked very much like St James (or Santiago). I asked him as much, and he seemed surprised that I identified him. He actually said that earlier today, another person had asked him the same thing. Well, anyone who has walked the Camino in Spain, in particular, becomes very familiar with that distinctive figure in his brown robe and hat. This fellow said he had not actually walked the path I spoke of… however, after his two encounters today, said he would do some research about it.

In the basement of the Abbey, (modernized), there were more people in costume and several “stations” to educate us about what things were like at the time of the Abbey in its heyday. One fellow was talking about the religious and social ideas of the day, another about medicines and the herbs they grew. Another was about the women and their social roles in the community, and the last one was about agricultural processes, grinding wheat or seeds and so on. It was interesting, although probably geared to a younger, family audience.

After Bath Abbey, I walked down to a central area where there was a big park, called the Parade Gardens - that you needed to pay admission to enter - when you can see the whole expanse from a bridge and road while walking by! Further along this road, there is another bridge, The Pulteney Bridge, quite a beautiful and well-preserved old bridge, one of the only of its kind left in England. A bridge with shops on either side of it. There is a detailed history behind it - like everything here! Canada is such a young country! It’s the Avon River that flows through Bath and under The Pulteney Bridge. There are several weirs along this river, and the fall colours of the trees along the side of the river made for pretty pictures. Speaking of which, I forgot to look for a memory card for my camera. At this point I was starting to get tired of walking around. It was approaching 2 or 2:30 pm. I sort of half-looked for a place to sit and have coffee or tea - but with the weather being so beautiful, there were many people out and about - many of them tourists I’m sure! Most of the sidewalk tables and cafes were packed with people. It was easy to tell the good and/or popular places; they had line-ups. So I worked my way back up some of the now familiar streets to the guesthouse, and once inside, up to the third floor! (A nice young fellow had carried my bag up when I first arrived with it this morning! Thank goodness!)

I didn’t quite get to the Jane Austen Centre today, but it’s open tomorrow. So I think I have a plan! After seeing Bath Abbey and it’s magnificent stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings. I also noticed a piano (covered), and a pipe organ in the wall… I looked up the times of the services online. Tomorrow being Sunday, I believe there are five services. Two are quite early with Holy Communion, the third one is at 11:30 am with a sung Eucharist, (also live streamed) which I think might be really wonderful. (It said “magnificent music” in the online information about that service.) The other two are in the afternoon and evening. I’ll try and get there for 11:30 am. On my way back up to the guesthouse I will stop for lunch or a Cream Tea at the Jane Austen Centre and have a look around.

If it’s a nice day, I will continue on up to The Royal Crescent and maybe beyond it, for a bit of a walk on the last part of the Cotswold Way. I haven’t done this last part of the walk totally in order - I mean, I’ve already taken pictures of the “finish” point! - but I’m doing what I can do. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

Posted by Laura Walking 20:54 Archived in England

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