BATH TIME …
BATH is just as wonderful as I imagined it would be.
Seeing the historic settlement always sat very high on my travel to-do list, so it was a big moment when I drove into town two days ago and got my first glimpse of the rows of regal Bath stone buildings that meander over the town’s gentle hills.
The Victorian-era structures – three and four-storey terraces built in long rows that are as straight as an arrow or curved to follow the sweeping turns of Bath’s streets – are so elegant with rows of panel windows and tall wrought-iron fences painted a glossy shade of black.
The most expensive real estate is found on the Royal Arcade, a long sweeping line of terraces set on a street that looks like one half of a circle from above with the front rooms enjoying a view over the park where posh Victorians would promenade on a Sunday.
But my favourite neighbourhood was the Circus, just a couple of blocks from The Assembly where the 19th century’s rich and famous would gather four or five times a week to dance the night away and find themselves advantageous matches.
The Circus is a round road about the size of a modern velodrome, with four streets leading onto it and a big park in the middle with a copse of old trees that currently stand naked to endure the winter, and the terraces that sit beside the wide footpaths are built in a curve to complete the circle.
I think it’s exactly what our generic new subdivisions are missing, lines of terrace houses built in cycles around grassy parks.
The local guide told us Nicholas Cage used to live at number 7, but had to put the grand old house on the market recently when he declared bankruptcy, and that Handel and Haydn were just two of the other eminent occupants.
But these two districts are not unique in Bath and almost every building is made from the blond stone that’s indigenous to the region with the walls turning a golden yellow when the weak winter sun falls on a facade.
HOW TO … visit Bath
While Bath is a two-hour drive from London, those relying on public transport can do the trip in less than 90 minutes with regular National Rail trains departing from Paddington Station and arriving at Bath Spa Station which is a 10-minute walk from Thermae Bath Spa.
National Express offers regular coach services from London Victoria Coach Station, London Heathrow and London Gatwick to Bath.