The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 2.0 miles (3.22 km)
Time to walk: This is another one of those walks that you can’t put a time limit on as you’ll want to stop off & combine it with visiting all of the attractions en route
Difficulty: Flat & all on hard paths
Parking: Bath is not ‘car friendly’ so, unless staying in the city, use the Park & Ride
Public toilets: Cafes, bars etc
Map of the route:
We did this walk when visiting Bath sometime ago & have combined it with several others in this stunning city
Bath has famous links with the Romans when it became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”). Around AD 60 the Romans built baths & a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although it’s suggested that the hot springs were known about much earlier. It became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, leaving a heritage of Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone
The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987. It’s theatres, museums & other cultural and sporting venues have helped make it a major centre for tourism with more than 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year.
It is, at all times of the year, simply a stunning city & our short walk will only touch on a few of its treasures. So check in for a couple of days & go explore
1. Where better to start our walk than in Bridge Street standing on the famous Pulteney Bridge looking at the river & the famous Bath weir. The only problem is standing on the bridge you can’t actually see the river!!
So to get a view of it we descend the steep stone steps to the riverside walk next to Bath Rugby Club &…there we are….
Pulteney Bridge crosses the River Avon & was completed by 1774 & connected the city with the newly built Georgian town of Bathwick. It was designed by Robert Adam & has been designated as a Grade I listed building
2. To get a better view lets move further down the Riverside Walk…
…& then up the steps beside the canal & over the bridge before tracking back down the other side & coming to the horseshoe shaped weir on the other side…
3. Bath’s Guildhall & Indoor Market are well worth spending some time browsing around & we enter on the left before emerging at the other side on the High Street…
4. Turning left out of the exit we arrive at the epicentre of the city with the beautiful Bath Abbey & Roman Baths. Let’s look at the Abbey first…
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was a former Benedictine monastery. Founded in the 7th century it was reorganised in the 10th century, rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries & then major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s
The Abbey is a Grade I listed building noted for its fan vaulting which we’ll have a look at in a minute. Let’s have a look inside…
5. It really is stunning & we can see what they mean about the ceiling…
The carving’s impressive too…
6. Back outside in the square’s the entrance to Bath’s jewel in the crown…the Roman Baths…
It really is a remarkable place & somewhere you can spend hours
The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House & the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century
The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath falls as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills, coming down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between 2,700 & 4,300 metres where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 64 and 96 °C. Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures & faults in the limestone
The Baths, together with the Grand Pump Room, receive more than one million visitors a year
Here’s just a sample of the many photos we took…
The Pump Room was built in 1706 as a meeting place for the sick. You can buy a cup of the water, but beware it was once analysed & the verdict from the laboratory was ‘This horse is pregnant’
7. Passing through the arches into Stall Street we turn left &, looking up, see some examples of different kinds of column fluting…is it Doric, Ionic or Corinthian?
8. Then it’s sharp right down Bath Street…
where probably the least known, but best of the Spa Baths are…Cross Bath…
The Cross Bath was rebuilt, in the style of Robert Adam by Thomas Baldwin around 1789 & is now a Grade I listed building. Here’s a photo that we didn’t take of the inside & it’s now available for group bookings…how fab!
If you fancy a bit more luxury then across the road’s the refurbished fab Thermae Spa Bath which has a rooftop pool…
9. Right enough lounging around!
Turn right & follow the narrow street into Westgate Street & then turn right again into Saw Close where we find the magnificent Theatre Royal Bath
Nash was a dandy from a young age, sporting a velvet coat, ruffles, diamond buckles & a diamond brooch & soon became aware that he possessed a certain style & manner which attracted people to him. He was not well off, but supplemented his income by gambling, at which he appears to have been extraordinarily successful. He was by now a well-known young ‘man-about-town’ & was welcomed into society
His association with John Wood led to many of Bath’s buildings looking the way they do today, although all may not be what it seems…
11. History lesson over (for the time being) we move further up the street where it becomes Barton Street until we finally arrive at Queen Square…
The obelisk in the centre was designed by John Wood & financed by Beau Nash. Note the blunt top caused by lightning strikes…
So… remember what we said about all not being what it seems? Well much of the fabulous appearance of this square is simply facade built upon other buildings to make them look grander
12. Taking the top left turn out of the square we move along Queen’s Parade. There’s 2 small houses along here where sedan chair men used to work. More importantly though we need to turn left up Gravel Walk which has an association with another of Bath’s most famous residents…Jane Austen
Gravel Walk was referenced in her novel Persuasion. Every year Bath has a big festival to commemorate Jane Austen’s birthday. If you wish you can visit the Centre & Tea Room, but we’re saving ourselves for a bit of ‘Sally Lunn’
13. Emerging from Gravel Walk we’re rewarded with our first glimpse of the Royal Crescent…
The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses designed by John Wood & built between 1767 & 1774. It’s among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the United Kingdom & is a Grade I listed building
Remember though…all may not be what it seems & if you glimpse behind the opulent facade you’ll see a mishmash of properties onto which a glamourous front as been placed
14. Leaving the crescent we now head down Brock Street into another of Bath’s famous areas…The Circus
The Circus was begun in 1754, completed in 1768. & is designated as a Grade I listed building
Divided into three segments of equal length, each of the curved segments faces one of the three entrances, ensuring that whichever way a visitor enters there is a classical facade straight ahead
Designed by John Wood, the Elder, although he never lived to see his plans put into effect as he died less than three months after the first stone was laid, it was left to his son, John Wood, the Younger to complete
Wood’s inspiration was the Roman Colosseum, but whereas the Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, the Circus faces inwardly. Three classical Orders (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite & Corinthian) are used, one above the other, in the elegant curved facades. The frieze is decorated with alternating 528 emblems, including serpents, nautical symbols, devices representing the arts and sciences & masonic symbols. The parapet is adorned with stone acorns
When viewed from the air, the Circus, along with Queens Square & the adjoining Gay Street, form a key shape, which is a masonic symbol similar to those that adorn many of Wood’s buildings
The central area was originally a reservoir that supplied water to the houses. Today it’s home to a group of old plane trees.
Owned by the National Trust, the Bath Assembly Rooms were designed by John Wood, the Younger in 1769 & are a set of elegant assembly rooms
They were built as a new venue for balls, concerts & gambling & opened with a grand ball in 1771 becoming the hub of fashionable society, being frequented by Jane Austen & Charles Dickens, along with the nobility of the time
A major feature is the crystal chandeliers which can be glimpsed through the windows round the corner
16. Right feeling a bit peckish? Then we know just the place…
Head left down Alfred Street & then down Bartlett Street which is the Antiques area of the city…
Then keep heading downwards on Milsom Street, Old Bond Street & Union Street to arrive back in the Abbey Churchyard. Now skirt around past the Tourist Information Centre & across York Street to finally arrive at….Sally Lunn’s House!!
17. This place is quite simply a Bath institution…
Sally Lunn’s is one of the oldest houses in Bath & serves the most famous local delicacy…the Original ‘Sally Lunn’ Bun. According to legend, Sally Lunn, a French refugee, arrived in 1680 & established her bakery
Today Sally Lunn’s serve a menu based on the world famous ‘Sally Lunn’ Bun during the day & are open for dinner in the evening. In the basement is the museum which is the original kitchen she used
So what finer place to end our little jaunt around beautiful Bath. As well as following our walk though we would direct you to the excellent free guided tour run by volunteers who will not even take a tip of your well-earned cash at the end. Details can be found at.. http://visitbath.co.uk/travel-and-maps/explore-the-area/mayor-of-bath-honorary-guides-p43001
We can’t recommend them highly enough
So simply…Go Walk!!