Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hotel in Bath - Great City Centre Walks

Three great walks in Bath

Before you book your hotel in Bath, spare a thought for your planned activities. A city centre hotel may at first appear convenient, although on a Friday and Saturday night it may be a little noisy. A hotel on the outskirts of the city may be quieter , however, it will necessitate a long walk or a taxi or two. We firmly believe that Dukes benefits from a ‘goldilocks’ location - being less than a five minute stroll into the heart of Bath and only a few minutes’ walk from the canal path out into the countryside.

Bath is very much a walking city, where all the historic sites, retail outlets, Abbey and gardens are within an easy stroll. For those who enjoy invigorating, insightful or humorous walks, Bath has a number on offer but three walks in particular stand out. For those with an abundance of energy and time, little may compare with the Bath Skyline Walk, which is reputedly the National Trust’s most ‘downloaded’ guide. For those more in need of a little inspiration and re-energising, Bizarre Bath offers insight into West Country humour and the spirit of Bath. Our third great walk, equally central and accessible, is the Ghost Walks of Bath.

On a fine afternoon little is more uplifting than to embrace the skyline of Bath while sitting on an adjacent hillside. One may eagerly pick through the roof tops, chimneys and spires pinpointing the famous and less familiar buildings, searching for the crescents visited and the arched rooftops of streets not yet seen.

The Bath Skyline Walk

The Bath Skyline Walk is particularly well described and follows a broadly circular path to the east of the city, with Dukes hotel an ideal start point. With little more than a stout pair of walking boots and a map in hand, one may follow a comfortable level path out of the city, passing the Stag Pub at Widcombe. A gradual ascent will take you up past Prior Park Landscape  Garden, a garden created by Ralph Allen in the grounds of Prior Park Mansion, the  home that he constructed to demonstrate the charm and pleasing qualities of ‘Bath stone’.  As one reaches the top of the ridge, one is rewarded with broad and embracing views across the city and to the hills beyond.

On a summer’s evening, the preparation and ascent of a hot air balloon from within the city will provoke delight. It’s a magical scene as the basket and balloon gracefully rise above the roof tops. One continues on to Claverton Down and heads off to the north. The walk navigates the boundary of Bath University before passing Bathwick Wood and the golf club, before starting a gradual descent. One passes Sham Castle, an eighteenth century folly commissioned by none other than Ralph Allen, to provide both employment for the local stonemasons and to enhance the view from his home in Lilliput Alley in the centre of Bath. The descent through Bathwick takes one past some of the finest and grandest Georgian houses in Bath, towards Dukes and Great Pulteney Street. Once back at Dukes hotel, we have ample storage and drying facilities for any wet, muddy clothes or boots. A long, hot soak will ideally complement the afternoon’s activities.

The Bizarre Bath Walk

An alternative and very different activity is the ‘Bizarre Bath’ walk. For this we would recommend leaving Dukes hotel at 7:30pm, taking a stroll down Great Pulteney Street and across Pulteney Bridge, and following the river bank round to the left where one may overlook the weir. Passing the old Empire Hotel on the right, head for the Huntsman Inn which is adjacent to the Abbey Hotel, a city centre establishment. The walk starts every evening, between April 1st and November 1st, as soon as the Abbey bells strike 8pm. Adults are invited to contribute £8 and students a more modest £5. The walking tour is recognised as being irreverent, the guide blending script with ad-libs, gently ribbing passers-by. More of a  stroll than a rigorous march, guests enjoy the street theatre and banter of the guide. The 90 minute tour is good family entertainment, a fun filled take on Bath city living. As the evening turns to night your guide will return you to the Huntsman Inn. Here you may enjoy one of a number of cask beers before making your way gently back to Dukes, chuckling as you recall the evening’s pranks and humour.

The Ghost Walks of Bath

For those who do not wish to return to the welcome of a boutique hotel and would prefer not to snuggle beneath the warm duvet, with their head peacefully resting on the soft feathered pillow, there is always the night time pleasure of the ‘Ghost Walks of Bath’ to contend with. Highly acclaimed, the walks have a history that stretches back to 1974. Guests staying at Dukes hotel on Great Pulteney Street will leave the the hotel at 7:30pm. Making your way down Great Pulteney Street and across Pulteney Bridge, continue on west across the heart of the city towards the Theatre Royal. Arriving at the Garricks Head pub shortly before 8pm, your guide will take you to many places within the city of Bath that are noted for their strange events. All participants are invited to part with £10, students and pensioners  are encouraged to part with a more befitting £5.

The walks were established by a local historian and psychic and have been followed by visitors from all over the world for the past 40 years. Taking place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, against the beautiful backdrop of the Georgian architecture, the guides embroider the evening with stories and tales, events and happenings. The streets of Bath take on the mystery of times gone by. The toil , the heartache and heartbreak of the countless generations with a sprinkling of danger and fear. As the walk draws to a close, with slight misgiving you may find that slumber beckons and you return to your hotel  where a calming nightcap is in order!

Dukes, an ideally located hotel in Bath for those who enjoy walking

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