Friday, 12 July 2013

Anyone for a bath in Barth, and a six mile walk

Well you talked me into it, you and my room mate, who used to live in Barth :o) You all said how good the Roman Baths are, so I believed you and went to see for myself today. I walked  down Bathwick Hill as usual, to the town, passing over the canal. This seems a popular stopover place, handy for getting supplies at Tesco. Five boats side by side, does that mean they have to climb over each other when they want to get onto the canal bank? 
I got to the Baths about 10am, before the crowds had built up. I went to the ticket desk and asked for a Saver ticket for a senior, The dear boy didn't ask my age, well it wouldn't be right would it, to ask a lady her age. I offered to show my bus pass, but he said he didn't need it. It was impossible to take photo's without getting people in the shot. When you first go in you walk around the top, looking down into the baths. 

Dotted around are these stone statues.

You can see how close the Baths are to the Abbey. I am halfway round now and more visitors are piling in behind me. Everyone is given a handset, like a telephone, and on the walls are numbers you press on the keyboard to listen to all the details of that particular part of the exhibition. I found that very useful. Everyone walks around like zombies tuned in to their own personal audio guide.  

As you might guess there were lots of fragments of the original stonework made by the Romans. It's amazing what new technology can achieve, they filled in the gaps by projecting images onto the jigsaw puzzle, showing what it would look like if all the pieces were there. Very clever.
All the upper levels are modern, built so that thousands of visitors can walk over the top safely, and look down on the Roman stones without damaging them. 
Most of the exhibition is below the ground, under the streets of Bath. This is where the water flows into the baths. 
When you have walked around the pool on the upper level you can walk round it at ground level. 

These two were quite chatty and were happy to pose for photo's.
There is a demonstration on film on how they made their bricks. First they get a lump of clay, and roll it out like you would pastry. They have a wooden mold and wrap the clay around it to form a box. They can be placed in a line to make an arch over a door. 
Here are some more exposed earthworks.
These floor tiles have been lifted and stacked up, to show how this bath would have been built. 

This is the hot spring, it is the only one in England. You can see the bubbles rising, but that isn't because it's hot, it's the gases which are coming up to the surface. 
I'm glad that I went to see it, I suppose it's one of the things you must do when you are visiting Bath. The whole exhibition is very well thought out, and very informative. I was in there for one and a half hours, which was enough, though I could have stopped longer.  
When I came out I sat in the square and listened to this young lady singing. She had a beautiful voice, reminded me of Nana Mouskouri. She got lots of applause, and people bought her CD. 

My next stop was the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms, it was included in the Saver Ticket. I took a few photo's but they didn't turn out very well due to the fact that the dresses were behind glass. I wasn't impressed by this exhibition. It was a bit dark in there, maybe that is to preserve the fabric. Each dress had a lengthy description about the designer, all placed on the wall opposite the dresses, but they weren't near the dress they were referring to, so there was a lot of walking backwards and forwards. The audio guide wasn't very good, didn't tell me much, so I gave up with it.

When that was done, I was keen to get out of the town. One and a half days of noise and hustle and bustle was enough for me. I got a leaflet from the Tourist Office and did the six mile Sky Walk. It starts at Bathwick Hill just below the hostel, I was in the town so I got a bus to the start. 
It's a circular route which takes in Widcombe, The Priory, Claverton Down, Bushey Norwood, Bathampton Down, and Sham Castle. All to the east of the city. There are some good views to admire.
What a lovely place to live, in peace and tranquility in the countryside. 
It was very hot again today, but I was quite pleased that this walk takes in several woods. At least I got to walk in the shade. 
Even the cows and sheep were sheltering in the shade of a tree. 
These mushroom thingys were huge. The size of dinner plates. 
And here is Sham Castle. That's all there is to it. I don't know if it ever was a castle, or if it is just a folly. The way up the towers is blocked off. 

It was a very pleasant walk. The directions and the map on the leaflet were spot on, and easy to follow. I usually have trouble following a walk this way, but this was easy.

Well my dear readers, my holiday is almost over. I shall be leaving the hostel tomorrow morning. I have sent a text to Compost Woman asking if I should call in and see her on the way back up, but she hasn't replied. I will try again in the morning. The hostel is quiet tonight, not many people in. My room mates have come and gone, the Chinese ladies have moved on, we are three tonight in a six bed dorm. The new lady arrived today is from Germany.
Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.  


  1. I'm so glad that you decided to visit the Baths after all, because I was able to go along with you....thanks Ilona.
    Also enjoyed your afternoon walk. I especially liked the Sham Castle.
    Safe travels back home.

  2. My daughter and I were there in 1990. It's a fascinating place. Nice to see all your pictures. Brings it all back. We didn't do the six-mile walk, just went for a tour in a double-decker bus, walked around the city and toured the baths, then off to other places. I love to read about your trips. You have many fascinating places to visit in England.
    Maggie from US

  3. Very interesting post, Ilona. Curious about Sham Castle, I googled it on Wikipedia and, sure enough, it is a folly. Thanks for sharing...

    Sharon in Alabama(USA)

  4. I have really enjoyed your holiday posts this week. Thankyou so much for sharing them. Last time I was in Bath it was a cold Easter visit. It looks so lovely in the warm sunshine :)

  5. I wonder which came first the Sham folly or the expression 'sham' meaning false. Great post Ilona. Thank you

  6. Lovely photos and an excellent write-up!
    You've convinced me to go to Bath the next time I'm in that part of the world - which will be in 2-3 weeks.

  7. Got your message and have texted you to say - Please come and see us ! :-)

  8. Thanks Ilona- brought back some lovely memories of our day spent in Bath last summer!

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed the baths. When we were there, we were directed around the lower parts first and I didn't actually realise you could walk around the higher level so I never got to do that bit! The walk looks lovely and I enjoyed seeing your photos.

  10. If I were rich...the house in the woods would be mine!
    Jzne x

  11. Hi Ilona, Glad you went to see the baths. I found them fascinating when I was there. Did you have a drink of the water? It was warm and nasty tasting (like dirt). I thought about that trip for a long time afterwards, how the Romans were so clever with the plumbing and how a lot of it is still there intact. We were on a bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge so we had to get back on the bus at a certain time and had no time to walk anywhere else. Have you ever been to Stonehenge? That's another place that was so interesting (and eerie somehow). Hope the rest of your day is great. Thanks for sharing. It brought back so many memories.

  12. That's why these follies are called "Sham" :-D

    Great photos, glad you had an enjoyable holiday and some decent weather. Hope your house sitter remembered to water everything :-D

  13. Frugality in action with the canal boats, i bet they are side by side so they only pay one lot of mooring fees. The baths look interesting and Sham castle looks fun. Have a safe journey home.

  14. Thanks again for sharing, I have emailed your post to all my British friends here in the US, we all thank you for a taste of home! I will look forward to your future travels.
    Pam in TX.

  15. Great pictures and descriptions, being a norf londoner, I pronounce it as Barf! Hehe!!

  16. Lovely to see your pictures of Bath. I hope to be there again in a few years time. I miss the place. It's my favourite British city.

  17. Looks like a good place to visit though now I've seen your photos of Bath I probably won't ever get there myself. It would be nice if one could still use the baths.


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