Bath is one of England’s most beautiful and favourite cities and England’s only UNESCO World Heritage City. However, to clear up any doubts, this place might be beautiful but is certainly not a gay destination. Bristol 20 km up the road is the place to go for a lively gay scene.
Several years ago Bath had a few gay venues but unfortunately most have now closed. The only gay place in Bath for a few drinks with like minded friends is Mandalyns not far from the Jane Austen Centre. The place is quite a popular LGBTI venue with good music, pleasant bar staff and is a welcome gay haven for both locals and visitors.
Of course there are a number of iconic things to do in Bath like the famous Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and a stroll around The Circus (historic architectural landmark featuring townhouses curving around a circular, grassy area). You can take a walk along the High Street, a visit to the Jane Austen Centre and don’t forget to have lunch or high tea at the historic Pump Room.
However, having visited Bath before, we decided to do something completely different and this time focus on exploring the charming countryside surrounding Bath.
Our first excursion was to take a bike ride along the Bath to Bristol Cycle Path. The Path is a 13 mile, off road route on a disused rail line stretching between Bath and Bristol. We used the bike share provider Nextbikes located outside Green Park Railway Station in Bath which was both convenient, easy to use and reasonably priced.
It was a short distance from the station to join the pathway. The pathway allows for very easy riding, beside lush green fields, slow flowing canals and disused railway tracks. Along the pathway were a couple of old country pubs and plenty of picturesque spots to take a rest and watch the narrow boats ply their way along the canals.
After eight miles of bike riding we needed a break, so we stopped for lunch at the quaint village of Warmley where the old railway station now houses an excellent cafe and a quirky toilet set up in a former police box.
The cafe served delicious scones with jam and clotted cream but we opted for the healthier toasted tuna sandwiches ……..but then relented and devoured the divine white chocolate brownies as well. Our eight mile ride had built quite an appetite. C’est la vie!
After lunch we rode steadily back to Bath and tucked into a well earned pint at the local pub. The ride took us a total of three hours. To ride the full distance to Bristol and return it would take most of the day and you would need to be quite fit to complete the journey.
On another day we drove out of Bath to Castle Combe, Lacock, Avebury and to the market town of Marlborough.
Castle Combe is not a castle but would possibly get the award for one of the cutest old villages in the UK. Warhorse the movie was partly filmed there and the manor house (now a luxurious golf resort) and surrounding stone workers’ cottages, all heritage listed and carefully curated, are a must see.
Lacock is a another historic village completely owned by the National Trust. Its unspoilt beauty, picturesque streets and historic buildings are the reason it is chosen as a film set for so many productions, including scenes from Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice; and we encountered the filming of a new series called Voltaire. The Red Lion in the heart of town was the perfect choice for a pub lunch.
After lunch we drove onto the historic area of Avebury. This place is not as well known as Stonehenge but Avebury Henge is bigger with the stone circles being one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain.
Built during the Neolithic period, the Henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes parts of Avebury village. The great thing about Avebury Henge is that we could walk among the stones and follow the stone circles right around Avebury village.
Our last stop for the day was the town of Marlborough. This busy market town boasts the second widest High Street in Britain and has many renowned restaurants, including Rick Stein Marlborough. This town is also famous as the place where Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, went to the exclusive Marlborough College to complete her secondary education. Our day of driving around the Wiltshire and Marlborough countryside was spectacular and well worth the effort.
We stayed at Bailbrook Lodge, a charming, 4 star, Georgian, Grade II listed country house with bed and breakfast and an extensive English garden. Its just a seven minute bus ride from the centre of Bath. We also found Bathampton Mill Pub on the river, a pleasant 15 minute walk away from Bailbrook Lodge.
Know Before You Go
- If travelling by train from London to Bath book as early as possible to save $.
- There is a taxi station at the train station but it’s best to book a transfer in advance.
- There is one gay venue in Bath called Mandalyns.
- It’s best to have a car to explore the Bath countryside.
- If you stay at Bailbrook Lodge you will be a 10 minute bus ride from the town centre but the house and surrounds were a delightful experience.
- See Agoda.com for more accommodation options