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Day trips from Bath

Next September, we're flying to London and then driving to Bath (and return, 8 days total). We're interested in day trips either from Bath or while traveling from and to London. I'd appreciate opinions on interesting day trips. Any suggestions for quaint villages like Wells? Also, preference for Stonehenge vs. Avebury? And Oxford vs. Cambridge? Thx

Posted by
3204 posts

Why would you drive from the airport to Bath? It is not a car friendly town, and driving after arrival on a long haul flight is in general not the best idea.

As for Oxford vs Cambridge, my recommendation would be Oxford as it is a lot closer to Bath.

Posted by
11247 posts

I don't understand what you are doing. Are you driving directly to Bath from the airport and then staying there? Are you then going to London and back to Bath? When you say to and from London do you mean the city or an Airport. There are five airports serving London. Which airport?

Posted by
6635 posts

re: Stonehenge vs Avebury. We did them both the same day. There's not that much to actually see or do, IMO. Stonehenge is much more impressive, unless you're distracted by crowds of people. Avebury I thought was more interesting, as you can get right up to the widely scattered stones.

Posted by
108 posts

There are five airports serving London. Which airport?

Six actually.

Cambridge isn't really day trip from Bath distance. And Wells is actually a city, the smallest in England I believe. Look out for Mary Rand's long jump measure.

Posted by
9712 posts

I like both Stonehenge and Avebury very much but I particularly like standing stone sites. They both have a different feel to them with Stonehenge being more formal with an audio guide, a shuttle out to the stones and more visitors. Avebury is 16 times larger (thank you RS guide who drilled that into us, lol!) so it is spread around a small village. At Stonehenge you can walk back to the Visitor Center via some tumuli (burial chambers) and a "Cursus" that predates the stones. At Avebury you can actually walk up to and touch the stones. If you have dowsing rods they will move when you are standing next to some of the stones!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge_Cursus

If you have a car you can also see Woodhenge with is near Stonehenge with the new dig in the area at Durrington Walls (right across the lane from Woodhenge).

Posted by
504 posts

You might want to look into Mad Max Tours. They do a nice day tour that covers Wells, Glastonbury Tor, Glastunbury Abbey, and Cheddar Gorge. It's not a big bus. You won't be following around in a crowd with a thing in your ear. They explain where they're taking you and then drop you off so that you can explore on your own.

Posted by
77 posts

Sorry for any confusion. We're landing at Heathrow, renting a car, and driving to Bath (we're actually staying just outside the city). We'll be at that location (outside of Bath) for 5 days and then planning to stop around Oxford or another location for 3 days before driving back to London.

Thanks for the suggestions so far! Has anyone been to Bitten? My wife's ancestors come from there and we're planning to visit. Our understanding is that it's a very small village with a local church and cemetery.

Posted by
592 posts

Do you mean Bitton, mid-way between Bath and Bristol? The Parish of Bitton used to be very large, much bigger than the current village of the same name. It included Kingswood, which is now the principal town in the area. It was a coal mining area from at least the eighteenth century onwards, and the population grew rapidly, so that separate parishes were created within Bitton. The current parish of Bitton is now mainly housing, and although the last mine closed in the 1960s there are still traces, including old mine buildings.

Although mining was the principal local industry, there were others such as brass making. Parts of the parish were rural with a very mixed population from the wealthiest to the poorest. Seeing the parish church would not necessarily tell you much about the area, which was also one of the earliest places where John Wesley preached.

If possible, you need to be well prepared with more precise information about where your ancestors lived, and what they did. There is a lot of information available, and the parish registers from 1571 are now available on Ancestry.

Posted by
519 posts

We took a day trip with Lion Tours from Bath to the Cotswolds and it was lovely. We also took the train and spent a day in Cardiff, Wales.

Posted by
481 posts

Hi Bill. I suggest that you change the plans a bit and not drive immediately after arriving. You’re going to be tired plus you’re driving on the left side of the road in an unfamiliar car . You could go to Bath by train or coach. Another option would be to start your trip with a two night stay in Oxford. The Oxford bus goes directly from Heathrow to Oxford. This is an easy option because you can buy your tickets ahead of time and they’re good for any of their frequent buses on the day you have reservations. The driver stores your luggage under the bus and he copes with traffic while you relax. From Oxford you could continue your trip by train, coach or rental car.

There is a lot to see in Bath. Besides the Roman Baths, I recommend the free walking tours offered by the Mayor’s Honorary Guides. The Bath Abbey has excellent docents who are eager to share their knowledge. There are a number of good museums, as well. Day trips to Wells, Cotswolds villages, or Stonehenge are worthwhile. You could go there by car but Mad Max or Lion Tours are convenient small group excursions that will handle driving and parking while you enjoy the scenery.

I guess I’m advocating using public transit for your trip. We’ve driven on some of our European trips but I prefer the excellent public transit in Great Britain. Driving on the left is often challenging for American drivers. The towns you are considering are not particularly driver-friendly and the rural roads are narrow by US standards.