A day in Bath, the Cotswolds and Stonehenge

A Day in Bath, the Cotswolds and Stonehenge
City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_01

_
It sounded too good to be true: Bath, the Cotswolds, and Stonehenge all in one day. With time always a precious commodity during travel, the City Wonders tour covering all three caught my eye while I was doing my research and I couldn’t get it out of my mind, even though I’m normally one of those people who “don’t do tours.” I had already figured out a DIY Stonehenge itinerary, but it would have taken nearly all day, and I was finding it challenging to explore the Cotswolds without a car. Bath was intriguing and everyone had told me I should check it out, but even advance train tickets weren’t cheap and I had already half made up my mind to skip it. The chance to see all three, therefore, was something that I just couldn’t pass up.
*

City Wonders Tour_Bath Cotswolds Stonehenge_01 Gloucester Road Tube station

_
Check-in time was naturally early — 7:15 AM just outside the Gloucester Road tube station — but we had a chance to catch up on sleep on the journey to Bath. I have to admit that’s one thing about tours that I could get used to: an opportunity to leave all the planning and staying alert to the guide, just relaxing and allowing myself to be shepherded along the trail. Another plus: my feet were getting much-needed rest after two full days pounding the pavements of London with shoes that didn’t fit me very well. At lunch later on, a retiree from Minnesota revealed that those were the very reasons she had chosen to take the tour in the middle of her week in London — as a strategic break between days and days of walking and exploring all by herself.
*

City Wonders Tour_Bath Cotswolds Stonehenge_02 drive to Bath
The ride to Bath was a good chance to catch up on sleep but the views of the countryside weren’t so bad either!

_
Bath

_
We arrived in sunny Bath at 10 in the morning. The entire city is a UNESCO Heritage Site and even at first glance it wasn’t hard to see why. Beautiful buildings, most of them built in the distinctive honey-colored Bath stone, surrounded us from the time we got off the bus at the Circus, through the impressive Royal Crescent, and down to Bath Abbey and the center of town. Georgia, our guide, plied us along the way with tales of Beau Nash, Bath society, and husband-snaring with a handkerchief.
*

Part of the Royal Crescent
Part of the Royal Crescent

.

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

.

The Pulteney bridge and weir
The Pulteney bridge and weir

.

City Wonders Tour_Bath_05 Bath stone buildings

_
As rich and glorious as Bath’s past was, its present is none too shabby either. After the tour, we had an hour to wander Bath by ourselves and found little gems of life, such as seniors playing petanque in a park. And I think that’s what I liked most about Bath: it’s a city that mindfully preserves its past but also allows itself to be lived in; a place that people actually call home, with all that word entails.
*

City Wonders Tour_Bath_08 Bath house

City Wonders Tour_Bath_12 park

City Wonders Tour_Bath_03 square

City Wonders Tour_Bath_11 Bath Brew House

City Wonders Tour_Bath_13 seniors playing

Search for hotels in Bath

*
*
The Cotswolds

_
Our second stop was the Cotswolds village of Castle Combe. It was just after midday when we got there — the tour was inclusive of lunch at The White Hart pub — and it seemed all the residents had gone off to work so we had the picture-perfect place to ourselves. (Incidentally, I learned that Castle Combe was one of the filming locations for one of my favorite films, Stardust. I never got to see Mark Strong in London but this is almost as good, yeah?)
*

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_06

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_02

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_04

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_03

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_05

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Castle Combe_07

Search for hotels in Castle Combe

_
The nearby village of Lacock was just as pretty and with more signs of life: a man cleaning his windows, a mother shepherding her kids, the last of the schoolchildren cheerfully heading home.
*

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_07

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_01

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_08

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_09

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_04

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_06

City Wonders Tour_Cotswolds_Lacock_02

Search for hotels in Lacock

*
Finally, best for last:

Stonehenge
*

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_07

_
If you’ve read my previous post on Stonehenge, you’ll know I was kind of ambivalent about it. A lot of people had gone and seen it and come away underwhelmed — just a bunch of stones, they said. But now that I’ve been there myself, I am totally on the side of “yes, absolutely, go see it if you can.” Georgia’s comprehensive explanation left me in awe of how people thousands of years ago, without any of today’s tools, were able to assemble such gigantic structures that had come from as far away as Wales. But even without that back-story — even without the how — the equivocal why is enough to give one a sense of wonder. You look up at those stones and you think: why would anyone go to such enormous bother to build Stonehenge? Why was it so important to them? It’s amazing, when you think about it.
*

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_05

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_06

_
One thing that people sometimes complain about Stonehenge is that you can’t get close to it. Actually, there’s a path that goes around Stonehenge, and some parts of it are a bit far from the stones, but there are also parts of it that go quite near. This is an unzoomed photo that was only cropped just a teeny tiny bit on the right to remove a few distant photobombers, so you see you can get quite close:
*

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_04

Search for hotels in Salisbury (near Stonehenge)

_
We had great luck with the weather the entire day and my favorite part was when the sun peeked out of a few clouds and cast visible rays on the area.
*

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_02

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_03

City Wonders Tour_Stonehenge_01

_
One last quick note about the tour itself: the meeting point was convenient, Georgia took the time to really speak to us individually, they were able to accommodate such requests as a bit more time for taking photos at Castle Combe while still getting us back to London half an hour ahead of schedule, and basically everything went off without a hitch, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend City Wonders. If you’re interested in what they have to offer, I’ve put together a list of their other London tours here.

 

*
stgmt_logo_18
A Day in Bath, the Cotswolds and Stonehenge© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
» 
Share with your friends on: Facebook | Twitter

 



14 thoughts on “A day in Bath, the Cotswolds and Stonehenge”

  • Some very lovely photos here, Smalltown. And I agree, go see Stonehenge. I’ve been there a couple times. Once long ago when you could actually walk around close to them. Now, you’re at a distance, and maybe that’s why people go away underwhelmed. But yeah, once you ponder how they got there, and when, and by whom…just awesome. And Bath is cool, too.

    • Thank you! I would have loved to be able to go up to the stones and touch them — you’re right, I think people would appreciate the immensity of the stones more if they could get nearer.

      • No, unfortunately I didn’t, it wasn’t part of the tour. Too bad, but we’d have gotten back to London too late if they’d included that. Would have been really interesting too!

      • Ah, right. I drove around England in a rental car (scary), so I could take my time and see a number of things, like Jane Austin’s house (don’t waste your time unless you’re a huge fan).

  • Thanks SGMT for this lovely tour back to England. I’ve been to Stonehenge, like BF, before there was a fence around it, and it’s amazing, but I think I would appreciate it more now, even from a distance, because I was 20something then and shallow and didn’t think about such things as the how and why of it. I’ve also spent time in the gorgeous Cotswalds, but never been to Bath – would love to go one day.
    Alison

    • Hi Alison! Your comment really made me think. My absolute favorite of this trip was Scotland but I think I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much if I’d visited 10 years ago. We see a place through the lens of who we are and what we’ve been through before we got there. I hope you get to go back to England and visit/revisit all the places you want. xx

  • omg… it all looks so amazing… especially that Castl Combe village… so idyllic, such atmosphere there, I got me longing to go there (too) 🙂

    you happy with the trip? when did you get back home? 🙂

    • 5 days ago. Very happy! Castle Combe is so pretty, though I think I would like it more if there had been more locals around the time we were there, to really get the village feel of it. Oh, and you know what — not related to this article but I might forget so I’ll just say it here — Scotland is perfectly suited for crappy moods. On the journey from Edinburgh to Inverness, we passed through some really bleak, remote landscapes, and all I could think was: this is such as good place to be sad in.

      • oh, gosh, now I really really r e a l l y need to go there lol 🙂 am very happy you enjoyed this trip 🙂 and you will be my travel expert to ask questions if I ever venture my way there 🙂

  • Oh i just saw this, I’m happy you enjoyed Stonehenge. And you even went to Bath!

    That is amazing! Do you know that Stonehenge researchers also just recently found that the actual Stonehenge is just 1 part of a much bigger complex? The Actual stonehenge is 10 times bigger than the actual site!

    • The guide mentioned something like that. I bet it must be really exciting to be part of the team studying the entire complex right now. Imagine making all those discoveries and then getting to analyze them, trying to figure out what the Neolithic peeps were thinking. So cool.

Share your thoughts!


%d bloggers like this: