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Live in Bath? Now is the time to visit Stonehenge!

Live in Bath ? Now is the time to visit Stonehenge – Yes, really!

When we have world famous monuments on our doorstep, it’s amazing how we can somehow blank them out from our field of vision. When it comes to planning a day out with family or friends we somehow feel we know all Stonehenge has to offer because we’ve driven past it a dozen times on our way to the coast.

Cast aside your cynicism and book a visit, it really is worth it. If you have National Trust membership it’s free and the same if you have English Heritage membership too. A family ticket for 2 adults and 3 children is under £40.

I visited last Friday and a few things really stand out in my memory. First, I’d forgotten how beautiful Salisbury plain can be. Low winter light across an open rolling landscape, glimpses of flint clad churches and appealing country pubs that I was committing to memory for future visits. And as you draw closer there are burial chambers peeping into view on the higher ground.

Yes, you have to dress for chilly winds and showers, but when this is all sorted you have the benefit of a world heritage site without the crowds. It’s such a wonderful way to see the stones and to wander round the exhibition area without feeling rushed.

Once inside the visitor centre you can stand at the centre of a projected image of the stone circle, watching it evolve, watching the seasons change, observing the dawn on a summer solstice and the sun setting on the midwinter solstice.

Outside are the beautifully reconstructed Neolithic dwellings, with different styles of thatch. You can wander into the houses, see the hearths and pots and allow yourself to imagine the life on Salsbury plain 4500 years ago. There’s also a copy of a sarsen stone on a sledge that you can attempt to drag on its wooden rollers- something that might be achieved with another 95 friends in tow!

 A few minutes bus ride and you arrive at the stones. Time your visit right and you have the sun setting behind the monument as you approach it. With the winter sunrays scattering around the stones it felt like viewing light through a cathedral window. Is this the way it was viewed around the time of the winter solstice in the Bronze Age? It’s fun to try and imagine what the locals did here 4500 years ago, but actually it’s just as wonderful to appreciate it as it is – a special  landscape where people lived, gathered and feasted over hundreds of years, travelling from across Europe and drawn together by something that we still don’t understand.

Visit Bath - The perfect base to explore Somerset, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds.

It’s simple – Bath is a hub - Not exactly the centre of the universe but it really is the perfect base to explore Somerset, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds from. At the moment most people come to Bath for a couple of nights, the spa, the fantastic restaurants, a choice of amazing museums, stunning architecture and then they leave – what a shame, there is so much more beyond the city itself.

Most people who live in Bath know this, it’s no secret, but for some reason, visitors from the UK and overseas, haven’t picked up on it yet, which is such a shame!

If you want to avoid packing and unpacking your suitcase, if you love the idea of a small chilled out city to come back to and relax in for the evening , then Bath is perfect.

Most of what is listed below is within an hour from Bath – how lucky am I! Most of which can be visited on our wonderful half and full day tours.

Let me just give you a few ideas:

To the North is the Cotswolds, the most quintessentially English part of England. Loads of nooks and crannies to explore, packed with history, stunning wool churches and some fantastic independent shops. Not to be missed is the Cotswold Woollen Weavers in the village of Filkins. A tiny museum, a perfect setting and some glorious woollen cloth, designed by an inspirational husband and wife team.

Then if you look to the East of Bath, it’s only a few minutes before you’re in Wiltshire. Full of ancient history, not just Stonehenge but the lesser known Avebury stone circles. Burial chambers, mounds and earthworks in abundance. It also has its fair share of stunning villages too with diverse architecture. Lacock National Trust village is often used as a film set. Both Pride and Prejudice and some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here. If you’re more of a city person then get the train to Salisbury. It has the most stunning cathedral, great markets and it’s all very walkable.

Then head South into the county of Somerset. Glastonbury, with all its magic and mystery. The birthplace of Christianity, its connections with King Arthur, the magnificent Tor where you can take in the stunning views of the Somerset levels. In fact the county of Somerset, with its stunning Cheddar Gorge, varied coastline and flooded levels offers some of the most diverse landscape in the world, within a very small area!

The city of Wells (the smallest city in England) with the oldest street in Europe is a gem. To come across cathedral green and gaze upon the front of Wells cathedral just stops you in your tracks. If you visit Wells promise me you won’t miss out on the Bishops Palace. I visited again this year. The gardens, the setting, the views from the wall, it’s unique and will create some truly beautiful memories of time well spent.

Of course, you musn’t miss out on Bristol, our bustling neighbour. So much life around the waterfront, with the world’s first ocean going liner as a major attraction. Don’t miss the Clifton suspension bridge or Clifton village with its grand architecture and excellent boutique shops. For something different, visit the market at Christmas steps. Quirky, full of energy and a lovely place to try local produce too.

And we haven’t even ventured into Wales yet! So basically the message is simple. Be kind to yourself when you’re travelling. Pick a base, like Bath and make this your home for a week and then venture forth and explore with one of our tours!

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