“The world was to me a secret which I desired to devine.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My morning in Bath was actually interrupted by a day trip to another famous site. You see, one of the most famous of the U.K.’s memorials was something I hadn’t yet seen. And I was eager to check it off my to do list.
Now, to get to Stonehenge without your own car is apparently a bit tricky. You have to get a train down to Salisbury, the nearest town, and then some kind of a shuttle to the sight. I honestly read a few reviews about getting there and someone suggested that a bus tour was often just the easiest and most time efficient way to do it.
So for any looking for advice, let me say that there is transport there but I don’t know how to go about it, because in my opinion sometimes a little money is worth it to save yourself time. After all, time is money doubly so when you’re traveling.
I used Scarper Tours. It had good reviews and was one leaving from Bath. Obviously there are others you could do from London as well since it’s between the two cities.
Regardless the small bus took me and a group of about a dozen people through the winding countryside, with the driver pointing out sights along the way. We reached Stonehenge in a little under an hour and our guide went to grab our tickets and audioguides, which took maybe five minutes tops, probably less. So all in all quite convenient and efficient.
Now, from the visitor’s center there are buses going out to the stones, although you can walk as well. I should point out that for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a long time looking at the stones you could simply rent a car and drive out to them and park a good distance away and still see them. My family did a similar thing when visiting Pont du Gard in France many years ago.
To be honest, they keep you back quite a distance from the stones anyways. It’s understandable as this is an archaeological site that is highly visited, and as a result has begun to deteriorate. So yes, you cannot walk up to them, but still can get decent photos and the like.
Honestly, I’ve seen a few ancient rock formations. I mentioned the ones I’d seen outside of Evora in a previous blog. I have also seen quite a few around Carnac in France, which has way more stones even if they’re not quite as big and not carved or set a top like they are in Stonehenge.
I’m not saying it’s not worth visiting. It is a very interesting place, and indeed is quite fascinating in its unknown origins and the like. However, I think there are other sites that can give you a sense of the same idea without charging an exorbitant rate, and forcing you to stand at a large distance with a crowd of other people.
Unfortunately my audioguide stopped working partway through, but honestly I didn’t care all that much. I considered walking back to the visitor’s center instead of taking the shuttle, but as I had a time limit to be back to my bus, I didn’t want to take too long.
I then went in the visitor’s center, which was much smaller than I would have expected given what a popular landmark this is. I suppose they just don’t have enough information to fill it, but it was a bit underwhelming all in all.
I’m glad I can say I’ve been to Stonehenge, but I’d say of the things I saw on my trip it was probably one of the least impressive. Honestly Bath or the beautiful city of Edinburgh are much more interesting in my mind.
From there I headed back to Bath, again about an hour drive. The driver dropped us off and I rushed off to get tea! Yes, I do love tea so I wanted to have some that afternoon.
And where better to go than the oldest house in Bath, the Sally Lunn house that still sells her famous buns.
Basically these are just delicious rolls that are the size of a saucer.
I settled on having the high tea. It was fairly reasonably priced as you had both tea, a dessert bun, and a savory one as well. Sadly you didn’t get to choose your flavor for the combo…so I was stuck with the smoked salmon. I’ll just go ahead and admit I’m not a big fish person, especially when the fish is more…raw in texture?
The bun was delicious and the tea was lovely, but I admit I regretted my choice on the salmon. So yes, don’t be an idiot like me and make sure you order something you know you’ll like.
The dessert one with jam and clotted cream was even more delicious. I wolfed it down and then enjoyed my tea.
My phone was dying so I decided to peak into the museum downstairs before heading off to my hostel to recharge.
The museum is quite small, so I wouldn’t advise going out of your way to see it, even if it is free. However, again the eatery is quite fun so if you’re up for it it’s not a bad place to stop in for a quick bite and some tea.
After charging my phone it was getting a little bit later. I was worried most of the museums would be closing up, so I decided to do something open to the public instead. I headed to one of the parks in town and notably the Royal Crescent.
So I mentioned the Circus in a post previously. The Crescent is similar in being a rounded series of Georgian homes, with very beautiful architecture.
However, at the end of the crescent there is also a museum known as Number One Royal Crescent.
It’s essentially just supposed to show what the wealthy lived like in Georgian England, and as Bath is famous for its wealthy visitors (think Jane Austen’s descriptions of high society), it seemed an appropriate thing to do.
I checked in to see how late it was open. The lady at the front desk was a little short with me, and I almost turned away, but it was open for another hour so I decided to pay and go in. If you’re in Bath for a while it would be worth investigating saver tickets to get into multiple places. As I wasn’t sure how much I would be doing, I didn’t purchase these but it would be a nice deal if you’re looking to do more than one museum.
Inside the house the hosts showed me around the different rooms. Sadly none of the furniture or fixings are really original, so if you’re looking for that authenticity you won’t find it in this house. They did do good research on what the house would have looked like back in the day though, so it all is quite authentic, even if it lacks the true historic preservation.
You wander through the various rooms of the house and different staff members clue you in on interesting things in the room and can answer questions if need be. They also provide little pamphlets that give you more information about the rooms use and the various furnishings.
All in all I had a good time and enjoyed it. I’d say if you’re looking for something to do in Bath this is well worth it.
With the time I had left I decided to head over to the Botanical Garden and see if it was open to the public (and hopefully free).
Just my luck it was open to six and didn’t charge! It’s a quite small garden, but very pretty and tranquil. If you’re looking to just relax for a bit and enjoy nature, it’s a good place to see! And again, free so you can make up for splurging on the spa.
After wandering for a bit I headed back towards town to get some food.
I settled at a place called Bills that had really reasonable 3 course meal setup for the early evening. I decided to go with that, treating myself to a cocktail and then having some meat skewers, fish, and to finish off a plate of donuts!
After finishing dinner I headed back to my hostel for the night.