I have wanted to go to Bath, England, since I first read a Jane Austen novel several years ago. When I mentioned visiting the city of Bath to my girls, Katy, my writer-daughter was very excited, while Jessica was more excited about shopping and the baths. I stumbled upon the Jane Austen Festival on-line, while researching fall festivals around Europe. It is celebrated for ten days in mid-September every year. I am told by locals Bath is always quite festive. However, it is really in full-Jane mode during the fall!
Here are 7 sensible things to do in one lovely day in Bath. For more on our southern England trip watch for my upcoming blog, Our day at the beach – Lyme Regis . Bath looks very much the same as it did during Jane’s time so I found myself walking and seeing this city for the first time just like she might have all those years ago.
We flew Ryan Air into Manchester for about €70/person with an upgrade to Priority. You may ask WHY? Manchester, is about a 3 hour drive from Bath, however the rates were very cheap and the car rentals were as well compared to flying into Bristol or London.
However, when I go again, I would definitely fly into Bristol. Summer construction under way and new driving skills needed (on the opposite side) created a stressful driving experience. Bristol is only 45 min. from Bath.
Where we stayed
Because the festival is so popular and Bath is typically very expensive anyway, we decided to stay on a farm in Chapmanslade. About 20 minutes outside of Bath near the beautiful, pastoral town of Fromes (pronounced “From”.) We stayed at Heath House Farm, a lovely restored farm house with great views of the English countryside.
It was extremely peaceful and is a gorgeous 2 story house with plenty of room. Our hosts, Nick and Anj were delightful and our accommodations spectacular. They were very helpful recommending local eateries and places to shop. I look forward to going back to see my new friends. They can also be found on booking.com.
1) Jane Austen Festival
This expansive festival covers everything from Jane Austen readings, high tea, a masquerade ball and much, much more. We enjoyed having lunch at Longbourne with the Bennett’s and Mr. & Mrs. Darcy. The hysterical Moonstone Theatre Company presented and the skit was side-stitching. If you are an Austen fan the historical and book references would have been very much appreciated as it was very well written. Mrs. Bennett was unforgettable and my table was filled with lovely people for all over Somerset.
At the festival and all throughout the city, you can choose to dress in period costumes or in street clothing. When I return I will most definitely be in full dress, it looked like so much fun.
2) Bath Abbey
3) No.1 Royal Crescent
One of the oldest period houses that you can tour, No. 1 Royal Crescent has some of the most beautiful views of Royal Victoria Park.
4) Royal Victoria Park
5) Roman Baths
Absolutely stunning Roman bath in Bath! Very crowded on our day, so NEXT year!
6) Jane Austen Centre
We enjoyed the Jane Austen Centre immensely. Under £20 for all three of us. The tour includes items from Jane’s life as well as a few videos to introduce you to Jane’s family, her vacation stays in Bath and the five years she lived here.
Our favorite was dressing up of course.
The Guildhall is a nice shopping center where you can purchase tourist bits or see where commerce took place in the 1700’s.
What to eat
While you are in Bath or England in general, you must have tea and biscuits of course. Additionally, I had the Queen’s Coronation Chicken sandwich one night for dinner and it was spectacular. A recipe created for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, it’s quite delicious. A curry chicken sandwich my friend Megan would be proud of.
Of course, we also had fun with fish and chips! Authentic “fish and chips” are made fresh, in front of you and the french fries resemble potato wedges from the States. It’s all incredibly yummy.
Parking and traffic in Bath
Driving in Bath can be horrific. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Very narrow streets where “giving way” is optional and hilly. And although I was able to get an original cheaper rate in Manchester for my rental car, the “upgrade” was no worth the stress. Don’t do it. The car was so pretty. An Audi from the new line. However, my comfort level was stretched to it’s limits as this was more like a Honda Accord or wider Sedan than the Prius I am use to driving. I wasn’t quite use to a car with girth.
Trying to park a larger car in small narrow spaces and driving on the opposite side of the road was a bit hair-raising. So my advice stick with the smaller car and “go slow!”
We did find great parking right in Bath however, that was close by to all the attractions. Use this link HERE to help. Our spot was within walking distance to the old city and we bought a ticket for 4 hours. We did have to loop around to put more coins in. Carry coins with you, because shops find it hard to make change with you for smaller coins. If I take a group next year, I will be parking at the Park and Ride – Odds Down which is much more affordable, has shuttles every 15 minutes and is stress free!
Bath was absolutely unforgettable and the people were so incredibly nice. Everyone was eager to meet us and hear our stories. They were just “lovely!” I can’t wait to go back to England.
You may have noticed, I have a few helpers that I’m introducing in my blog. Here’s how they work…