When visiting London, there were several sites that I wanted to venture out to. Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and the town of Bath to name a few. We visited in December, which is very cold, rainy and cloudy, reflective in the pictures. Bath is where I first sampled the true form of cider. Do not make the mistake I did, thinking it was the American version of hot, apple cider. It looks and smells just like the American version of spiced apple cider. The United Kingdom has the world’s highest per capita consumption of cider. The most notable difference between American cider and European cider is the alcohol content! In the UK the law states that cider must contain 35% apple juice whereas in the U.S. it must be 50% apple juice and in France, the cider is solely made from apples. The cider in Bath will knock your socks off, but anything hot was wonderful in December. A warm beverage is a fantastic addition to the Christmas caroling in the streets. The cider in Bath is served from a big copper pot, continually stirred. Perry cider, made from pears, is quite common in England as well. I would recommend grabbing a hot cup of cider AFTER touring the Roman Baths, just speaking from experience.
The town of Bath, pronounced both as in moth, is located 97 miles west of London in the county of Somerset, England. The town is well-known for Roman-built baths in 60 A.D., which were created from bath stone and feature four areas: the Sacred Spring, Roman Temple, Roman Bath House and the Museum. Over 1 million tourists per year stay in the town of Bath to visit the baths and the Grand Pump Room. 3.8 million visitors come for the day per year. Visitors are prohibited from entering the waters as they are considered unsafe for bathing. The waters pass through the original lead pipes. Bath stone has a warm, honey color and is easy to cut, square and shape without crumbling. It is interesting that the Roman Baths are actually situated below street level. The buildings above street level are from the 19th century. Bath has their own sports team called Team Bath.
It is fascinating to view what the engineering was like 2000 years ago. This is a picture of the water system at the Roman Baths, which were naturally heated by use of warm water from the local springs that would enter through the water system. The Romans were able to design complex plumbing systems to provide hot water to run into their baths. Where does the water come from? The water comes from the rain in the Mendip Hills and then bubbles up from the ground at Bath Falls. The water then filters through the limestone between 2,700 and 4,300 meters, causing the water temperature to rise between 69 and 96 °C. The pressure forces the heated water to rise to the surface.
In the picture above, you are able to see a portion of Bath Abbey, also know as the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is visible from all over the town. Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and rebuilt in the 12th & 16th centuries as one of the largest perpendicular structures in Southern Western England, seating 1200. While the abbey is a major tourist attraction, it is also an active church, concert & lecture hall inclusive of hundreds of members. At the outdoor market, vendors sold locally made items for tourist to browse. Christmas is a wonderfully festive time to visit Bath.
Jane Austen lived in the town of Bath in the early 19th century. The Roman Baths were featured in 2005 on the program Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the West Country. Bathing in Rome was considered a communal activity, not private as it is practiced in the United States.
$$ Saving Tips~
If visiting Bath for the day, it is best to book a tour from your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, than you can still book a tour and can be picked up at a hotel in town. We booked a tour and the pick up location was the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. Our tour had several stops which was a 12 hour day. Shop around, compare prices and decide what you want to see in the span of a day. We loved the convenience of being able to have a couple of drinks and not have to worry about driving, getting lost or viewing maps. In addition, the tour guide was extremely knowledgable providing historical facts along the way. It is about a 2 hour ride from London each direction. We chose a tour that included wine (of course) and lunch. Many of the tours allow free time as well, so not to feel smothered or restricted. Be sure to inquire where the drop off location is. We assumed that it was the same as the pick up and after a very long day, we discovered we were on our own for a cab ride back to our hotel from downtown London.