On with the show! Setting off on Day 3 of our road trip around the UK, we didn’t go very far – in fact, just down the road to the nearby Park & Ride that took us into Bath itself. Bath is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years, with visions of Jane Austen and Roman baths in my head. And it definitely delivered on its promise, despite us only having the morning there.
I had lots of things that I wanted to see in Bath, but we knew with the limited time we could only do a few of these. The most important one to me, with my Classics-brain, was to see the Roman baths so we went straight there from the bus stop. Ben isn’t as big a fan of history as I am, but he actually managed to enjoy his visit here! We got a couple of audioguides and followed the tour around the baths. As we’d got there early and we visited at the end of September, it wasn’t very busy at all, but from the queue space at the ticket office, it looks like it must get very busy at times. As you can imagine, I loved seeing the Roman baths and wished we could have spent longer there – but places to be, things to see! We probably only listened to about 50% of the audioguide stops, but even so managed to spend a couple of hours there. I was really pleased that you were able to view the baths from above, walk right alongside them, walk within the different rooms and see more excavated areas within the museum itself. There was so much information that you could go in knowing nothing about Roman Britain and come out an expert – well, at least, a bit wiser on the topic!
We continued to explore Bath on foot and did quite a lot of walking for just a morning spent there! We didn’t have the chance to go inside Bath Abbey (next time!) but we viewed it from down below and from the baths, then we headed towards the Circus and the Crescent to get some views and photos of these iconic buildings. I’d ideally have liked to have visited the Assembly Rooms, but again, that’s a stop for next time, as is the Sally Lunn shop that we didn’t realise we’d forgotten to stop at until we were driving away from Bath! Sadly the Crescent had a lot of scaffolding and construction work going on, so I didn’t manage to get any good photos of it, but it was still very regal to see, to say the least.
And the last thing we did before leaving Bath was to find Waitrose and to stock up on food for the evening – that’s going to be a whole separate post that I’m excited to share…we stayed in a Shepherd’s Hut!
So stocked up, we sped onwards towards our destination. We travelled down through the Mendip Hills and via Cheddar Gorge. We had plans to stop at the Cheddar cheese factory so that was our next stop. We were actually very surprised by Cheddar Gorge and the town itself though! Using the SatNav, we travelled through nothingness for a long time before finally seeing signs for Cheddar Gorge. The road down through the Gorge was pretty spectacular, with high rock faces and a very winding road. But then vast (empty, due to the time of year) car parks began appearing on either side of the road, before we were suddenly amongst a thrall of coaches and coach parties. Then there was a visitor centre, and sign after sign for visiting the sights of the Gorge. We hadn’t planned to do much at the Gorge itself except maybe stop for a few views, but it was FAR more touristy than either of us had expected! And suddenly, we were in one of the most tacky towns we came across – it was like a seaside town (our home seaside town of Scarborough to be more precise) but in the middle of the hills!
Sadly, the cheese factory wasn’t what we expected it to be either. We’d thought it would be like Wensleydale (I must post about that sometime) where they have a big refrigerated room that you can sample cheese at will in, but in fact, there was a small counter where you had to ask for samples – and I felt very awkward asking for lots of them! The parking was also very expensive (we had to pay for all day parking in the town) and the cheese itself was so expensive that we didn’t buy any.
So basically, Cheddar Gorge was a bit of a disappointment for us – worth a drive down the Gorge, and I’m sure exploring the actual gorge itself would be lovely if you had the time, but the town itself wasn’t great at all. We did take a picture of it for posterity though:
And so, on we ventured! Next stop was Dunster to visit the National Trust’s Dunster Castle. This one definitely wasn’t a disappointment – we managed to explore the castle and grounds inside and out, and I’m sure we could have done more exploring too had it not been slightly drizzly weather. The castle is located on a hill as you approach the small town of Dunster, which is just outside the Exmoor National Park, and has a pretty dramatic setting, with views from all sides over the surrounding countryside. We walked up to the very top to view the castle from above, but didn’t have the time to walk to the edge of the grounds where the watermill is located – again, something for next time! There was also a small cobbled walkway down to the town of Dunster too, which we ambled down and back up again. I’d definitely recommend giving Dunster Castle a visit if you’re in the area.
And then we headed off to our final destination of this (long!) day – the Shepherd’s Hut! But more on that in the next post, it deserves one all of its own!
PS: If you’re wondering about my outfit, details are below!