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how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

California City...
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how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

We have decided to use London as a base to do our one day excursion to Bath. There are two options we are considering:

1. train to Bath early AM, take the Mayor's walk and then a half day tour to Stonehenge/Lacock Village; After the tour (ends at 5:30) we will spend more time in Bath....hope things are still open??...then have a dinner before heading back to London.

2. train to Bath leisurely and take the full day to explore Bath

There are alternatives as well, such as tours from London to Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor, or all-day in Cotswolds...etc.

What do you think? Thank you.

Plymouth
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1. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Depends on how much time you've got to see Stonehenge some other time. Personally I found so much to see in Bath I would have been most reluctant to have torn myself away to rush off to Stonehenge.

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2. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

As is well known on this forum, I am not a fan of Stonehenge - a New Zealander friend drove her brother and his family for 3 hours to see it, when they got there he said 'is that it'.

Stick to Bath, as Sandy says there is a lot to see. You should allow at least 90 minutes to tour the Roman Baths (my cousin came out after 2 hours and said 'that wasn't long enough'). In contrast Stonehenge takes about 40 minutes at most.

If you are absolutely determined to see Stonehenge another alternative is to catch a VERY early train to Salisbury (07:10 say), bus out to Stonehenge and back, then train on to Bath. Doing it that way should get you to Bath by 12:00 midday. Ask on the Salisbury forum as to when the buses start running. You don't say when you will be here, but the Stonehenge website is useless, at the moment it doesn't give opening times beyond the end of March.

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3. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

I'd agree with those above - not a big fan of Stonehenge and would suggest you spend your day exploring lovely Bath. There is so much to see and even just wandering the city centre is nice. I'd also recommend a cup of tea (or spa water!) at the Pump Rooms, which is a real experience.

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4. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Bath deserves a whole day.

I can never see the sense in heading all the way from London to Bath then joining a coach tour that travels back over to Stonehenge .....

Bath
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5. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Taking a tour to Stonehenge on such a short trip would be crazy. Stick to Bath; you will not even scratch the surface in a day.

RomanCitizen, on the subject of Stonehenge it may interest you how our guests react (as you probably know I run a B&B): some share your underwhelmed attitude, while others tell me they were moved to tears. It just shows how every experience is an interaction between the object and the observer. Almost everybody agrees though that Avebury is more enjoyable than Stonehenge.

California City...
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6. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Thank you all so much. We will make the trip to Bath and just take our time to explore the city.

1Brutus, you mentioned Avebury is more interesting than Stonehenge. Is it something we can do on the same day to Bath, or should we take another day to Avebury? Is it reachable via public transportation?

I understand your thoughts about Stonehenge. It's just that we almost feel obligated to report back to friends/families about visiting the iconic Stonehenge. Imagine comment such as "You went to England but did not see the big rocks?"

You did not mention about the tour out of London to visit Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor. I take that you all don't think rushing from place to place is the way to go....?

Thank you!

California City...
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7. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

And, how about a day to Bath, and another day with tour out from London to Cotswolds?

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8. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Avebury is accessible by public transport from London. Train to Swindon then the hourly 49 bus which stops outside the Red Lion pub in the heart of the complex. See www.travelinesw.com for transport links, the railway station at Swindon is only minutes away from the bus station.

For what there is to see and do at Avebury, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury - more than just big stones, as may be seen from the Google satellite pictures.

The Avebury stones, along with West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, involve a lot of walking and there is also a small Museum and Avebury Manor within the tiny village - better allocate a day for a visit (if you are interested) rather than try to cram it and Bath into one rushed day. But if you have time to spare the same 49 bus goes on to Devizes, an attractive market town, just a few miles away.

Edited: 01 March 2013, 16:04
Bath
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9. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

I can see your point about people saying "What, you went to southern England and did not see Stonehenge?" (I got a similar reaction after a recent vacation in India - "what? you did not visit the Taj Mahal?") But in many years of travel, I have learnt that less can be more, otherwise you have been everywhere and seen nothing. I have stopped caring what other people think and refuse to "tick boxes".

If you can, take a separate trip from London just to see Stonehenge and/or Avebury. As Pausipylon rightly says, exploring Avebury and the surrounding ancient sites will take the best part of a day. It is absolutely worth it. But if it means spending just 2 or 3 hours in Bath, I would not do it. The free walking tour in Bath takes two hours, and the visit to the excellent Roman Baths another two hours at least. You will not get a feel for the place if you rush around, and you will need a vacation to recover when you get back.

California City...
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10. Re: how to plan our day in Bath and nearby area

Thank you. In addition to a day in Bath, we can take another day to Avebury and nearby sites. Would you say places in Avebury and nearby sites are within walking distance (ie. no buses or transporation involved)? What if we do a full-day tour in Cotswolds from London instead of Avebury? What do you think the difference is?

I am so grateful to have all your thoughts. This trip is going to be great!