With mallards bobbing by and the occasional kingfisher flashing turquoise above, there is nothing quite like sailing a boat through Bath. Whether it’s on a barge, a water bus, or an old-fashioned punt, boating will afford you the opportunity to see a different side of the metropolis. From Pulteney Weir, the medieval cattle-market and the country’s only surviving Georgian lido, to the Victorian boating station, Solsbury Hill, and the rural village of Bathampton, the town’s true colours are sure to show.
Pulteney Princess, Pulteney Bridge, Bath, UK +44 7791 910650
Bath Narrowboats, Sydney Wharf, Bath, UK +44 1225 447276
Bath Boating Station, Forester Rd, Bath, UK +44 1225 312900
Known for its literary past and its cultured connections, Bath is bursting with book shops. Wandering through the pillar-box red door of Bath Old Books, with its intoxicating scent of rare editions, you are bound to find something of interest. On the outskirts of the city, in the tiny cobbled town of Bradford on Avon, Ex-Libris Books has over 4000 titles. Head to the high-street and pull up a pew in Topping for something a little more modern.
Bath Old Books, 9c, Margarets Buildings, Brock Street, Bath, UK +44 1225 422244
Ex-Libris, 1 The Shambles, Bradford-on-Avon, UK +44 1225 863595
Topping & Company Booksellers, The Paragon, Bath, UK +44 1225 428111
For an alternative perspective, why not wander one of the many walkways woven in and around the city? Just north of the Avon, the towering local landmark of Kelston Round Hill overlooks the Wiltshire Downs, the Mendip Hills, and the Black Welsh Mountains. The Cotswold Way National Trail cuts through the charming Somerset village of North Stoke and also passes Pipley Wood, Lansdown Racecourse, and Upton Cheyney. The scenic, six-mile stretch of the Bath Skyline definitely boasts the best panoramic cityscape.
Covering 57 acres, Bath’s Royal Victoria Park, also contains a tennis court, an adventure playground, and a bandstand. Hidden within its neatly mown expanse, however, the Great Dell, streaked with conifer-lined pathways and lime covered walkways, houses a plethora of fauna and flora. But the jewel of the sward has to be the Botanical Garden, with its assortment of trees, shrubs, and plants, along with a string of herbaceous borders, rock gardens, and scented side-tracks.
After a busy day in Bath, the last thing you want to do is search for a pub. Next to the Kennet and Avon Canal, the ivy-cloaked, Grade II listed George Inn – with its outdoor terrace, classic cuisine, and cask ales – is the perfect place to unwind. Minutes from the centre, The Boathouse, in the west, comprises a lengthy landscaped garden that leads down to the water. Move northwards, and you will find the Hare and Hounds perched right on the top of Lansdown, with a breath-taking backyard view.
George Inn, Mill Lane, Bathampton, Bath, UK +44 1225 425079
The Boathouse, 1-3 Newbridge Road, Bath, UK +44 1225 482584
Hare and Hounds, Lansdown Road, Bath, UK +44 1225 482682