Choosing A Stroll Over A Dip In Bath

12 December 2014

There comes a time on any trip to Bath when you lean over the crumbling stone wall overlooking the local cricket ground and start to ponder Somerset property prices.

It's that kind of town; one whose resplendent man-made beauty and rarefied country air makes you start mentally auditioning for a role on Escape To The Country.

Bath is undoubtedly one of the most visually arresting towns I've had the good fortune of visiting.

From the celebrated Roman Baths that lend their name to the city, to the sweeping Royal Crescent and the Palladian architecture abounding on almost every corner, it's little wonder the entire city is a listed World Heritage site.

However, it was the Bath Cricket Club Ground which first caught my eye. Pressed up against the River Avon not far from historic North Parade, I reasoned that any town boasting an amateur cricket ground as picturesque as Bath's had to be one worth exploring.

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An Amiable Amble

Tucked away among the rolling hills of largely rural Somerset, one of the best ways to explore Bath is unsurprisingly on foot.

So it was one pleasant May afternoon that I ambled amiably along the North Parade, passing the Parade Gardens on my right and heading into the heart of the city.

Bath Abbey was never far from view – Edgar, England's first king, was crowned on site in 973 – and this imposing Gothic structure melds seamlessly into a city constructed predominantly from gold-hued Bath Stone.

The city's famous Roman Baths are just a stone's throw from the Abbey, attracting around a million curious onlookers a year to one of western England's most visited attractions.

Though much of the existing structure is comprised of Georgian-era additions, the baths have been around for centuries and with their pale green waters sparkling and wraparound balustrades instantly drawing the eye, the photography buffs were out in force the day I dropped by.

 The Roman Baths lend the city its name. (Getty)

History On Show

A quick detour past the city's grand Guildhall soon had me at the foot of another of Bath's most decorated structures – historic Pulteney Bridge.

Constructed in 1774, the bridge is just one of four in the world to boast shops along both sides of its entire span, making it an obvious attraction for those looking to cross a river and buy a souvenir at essentially the same time.

I opted for a temporary souvenir of the gelato kind on my stroll across the bridge, and though I may have followed in plenty of footsteps by doing so, I still felt a palpable sense of occasion crossing one of England's most unique bridges.

I felt much the same the next day when, on a typically overcast English morning, I trundled up past the Jane Austen Centre on my way to The Circus.

Austen, the renowned English novelist who spent six years in Bath, didn't enjoy an especially productive time in the city – possibly because she spent too much of it admiring the architecture.

And the townhouses on The Circus – though sadly well out of my budget – count among the city's most resplendent, boasting a classical three-story Georgian facade in every direction.

 Pulteney Bridge is one of England's most historic. (Getty)

A Rugby Town

Jane Austen would have seen plenty of Georgian facades during her time in the town, although it's questionable what she would have made of the temporary stands at The Recreation Ground.

Love it or loathe it, and there are plenty of locals with a foot in either camp, 'The Rec' is Bath Rugby's age-old and increasingly contentious home ground – filled regularly to capacity this season for a campaign that ends barely four months before Rugby World Cup 2015 begins.

Bath is undoubtedly a rugby town, but then again, it's a great town in which to pursue any number of activities.

From its storied Georgian architecture to its association with Austen and the charming atmosphere that resonates throughout, Bath is a city in which one's fantasies of ye-olde-England-of-yore are affirmed, rather than dashed.

It's also a great city to take a stroll in. Something I'd happily do on any day of the week, given the opportunity.

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.