Friday, 26 August 2016

Visit Bath and Go On A Free Walking Tour

As with most cities that are a popular choice for a weekend city break, a longer stay, or even just a day trip, if you visit Bath and decide that you’d like to take a walking tour to get to know the city a little better, you won’t be stuck for choice.

There are themed walks (there’re a few different Jane Austen walking tours, one that looks at Mary Shelley’s time in Bath (on until 30th September 2016), a comedy walk, a ghost walk - the list goes on), walks available in different languages, walks aimed at families, and also more traditional walks which look at the city’s history as a whole. There are quite a few we could recommend, but this week we wanted to focus on what might be the longest running walking tours in Bath – those given by the Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Guides.

The Honorary Guides have been showing visitors around Bath for upwards of 80 years; the first mention of them is from 1934 when Alderman Sturge-Cotterell showed visitors around Bath on Boxing day and Easter morning. This continued each year, and by 1960 formal training sessions were given to new voluntary guides. By 1975 walks were given twice every day (except Christmas day). They have only been cancelled twice. Once in 1981 following extreme icy conditions, and once in 1996 when hurricane-force winds were uprooting trees! So the dedication of the guides is really incredible!

The other amazing thing about the Honorary Guides is that they do their daily tours simply for the love of teaching others about Bath. The walks are completely free and one of the guides will accept tips. To thank them for their service the Mayor and Charter Trustees have dinner with the guides (of whom there are around 65 in total) once a year and each guide is given a blue shield badge to denote that they are a Member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides.  

The daily walks leave from the front of the Pump Rooms (near the Abbey) at 10:30am and 2pm (10:30am only on Saturdays). Each walk takes approximately two hours and covers two miles on a route that can be adjusted to avoid steps in order that the walk can be wheelchair-user friendly.  

In additional to their central city walks the Guides have also created a new walk which explores the Pulteney Estate – including Great Pulteney Street and Sydney Gardens. Great Pulteney Street has had many famous visitors and residents in the past, and Sydney Gardens is the oldest park in Bath and was originally an eighteenth/nineteenth century pleasure garden belonging to Sydney Hotel (now the Holburne Museum).

Since Dukes Hotel is located on the corner of Great Pulteney Street, and just a minute’s stroll from Sydney Gardens, we are naturally delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about the area of Bath in which we live. As with the central city tours the Pulteney Estate tour lasts two hours and leaves from outside the Pump Rooms at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays (May to September).

If you’re coming to visit Bath, these are some great Bath walking tours to go on!  

Friday, 19 August 2016

Stay in Bath and See the Bath Bike Trail

On August 18th colourful decorated bikes went out on display across Bath. A few days before that the rainbow collection of umbrellas which had been strung between the buildings in Bath Southgate were replaced by red, white and blue bikes. Bath has well and truly embraced bicycles as its decoration of choice this summer, which might seem a bit of an odd choice at first, but there is a reason.

On Thursday September the 8th the Tour of Britain will be visiting Bath. Not only that, but for the first time Bath will be hosting a stage finish!

Started in 2004, that first Tour of Britain represented a key moment in history for the sport of road cycling. In 2004 96 riders took in two of the home nations over the course of five days before riding to the finish in London. Since then the race has grown in size and now lasts eight days, takes in Scotland, Wales and England, and involves twenty of the world’s top teams, including ten of the sport’s top tier UCI WorldTour teams.

One of the reasons we’re so happy that Bath is hosting a stage finish is that it means that those watching (we’ll certainly be there) have the chance to meet the riders. Those riding are some of the biggest stars the sport has to offer (last year Mark Cavendish, Alex Dowsett and Sir Bradley Wiggins took part). There will be the opportunity to collect their autographs, and talk to them about what being a professional athlete is like and what kind of preparation and dedication it involves.

So to celebrate the race coming to Bath, Bath has launched the Bath Bike Trail. Fifty-three businesses across Bath have signed up and now have their own uniquely decorated bikes (and there are some pretty unusual decorations in the mix) out on display and ready for selfies and travel snaps. Not only is going bike hunting a lovely thing to do on a sunny summer afternoon but some of those businesses involved also have promotions running alongside the trail.  

These are a few of the promotions on offer:

  • ·       Bloomsbury are offering a 10% discount for all Bath Bike Trail participants on all full price items in store.  

  • ·       Kingsmead Square Traders are asking people to take a selfie with their bike and use the hashtag #LoveKingsmead on Twitter or Instagram.  The best selfie wins a goodie bag from the Kingsmead Square Traders.

  • ·       The Fudge Factory are offering a free fudge box to whoever tweets the best photo of their bike to @BathFudgeShop.

  • ·       Mogers Drewett solicitors are asking for a selfie with their bike and a tag on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtags #BathTOB, #TOB2016, #blingyourbike for the chance to win £50 of Amazon vouchers.  

If you’d like to take part in the trail and you want to know where the bikes are around the city, then the free downloadable map of the trail, along with details of other promotions on offer, can be found here. The hashtags to use to follow all the action on Twitter are #BathToB #Bathbiketrail and #ToB2016, and the account to follow is @Love2cyclebath.

Just a final note; if you are in Bath and bike hunting don’t forget to come and see our bike (number 19) at Dukes and tag us (@DukesBath) in any photos!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Visit Bath’s Open Air Cinema at The Holburne

We’re always on the lookout for unique things to do when on a visit to Bath. Or for that matter, unique things to do if you happen to live in Bath; many of the events going on around Bath are things that us Bathonians are just as excited about as newcomers to the city.

Being located only five minutes from the city centre, usually Dukes is not too far from the action, and this is especially true for our spotlight event this weekend. This weekend the Holburne Museum, which is less than a minute from our front door, is the place to be as, in partnership with The Little Theatre Cinema, the Holburne Museum is hosting a weekend of open-air cinema within its tranquil gardens.   

Gates open at 7:00 and it’s worth arriving around then to get a good patch of lawn. The Holburne café will be serving food from 7:00 – 9:00 (if you haven’t been to the Holburne café before then we can fully recommend them and their delicious food), and the bar will stay open to serve alcoholic refreshment and soft drinks throughout the evening. The films each start at around 9, or as soon as it gets dark (so to be sure you don’t miss the beginning the recommendation is to be there by 8:45).

Last night was Baz Luhrmann’s beautiful adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, tonight will be the turn of the multi award winning The Revenant (rated 15, length 156 minutes), tomorrow is a classic - Jurassic Park (PG, 124 minutes), and Sunday will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in case you’re not sure which of the Star Wars films this is it’s the most recent Star Wars film which was released last year) (12A, 135 minutes)). So a real mix of films! Tickets for each are £10 for an adult and can be booked via the event website (

As it is an open air performance scheduled for after dark it may get a bit chilly, even if it is summer, so it’s important to take a few layers/blankets. Also it’s worth noting that no seating is provided, but you can either take your own (the rule is that it must not restrict the view of others) or “Cardboard Bum Box” seating will be available to purchase.

And finally to the important question of the weather to go with the films. Admittedly it’s not as if we wish for rain very often, but we’re especially pleased to find out that the forecast for this weekend is a dry one! Though it might be an idea to go fully prepared with umbrellas, just in case Murphy’s Law happens to strike.