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England/Wales

After visiting Bath on a day trip last year from London, mom and I fell in love with the city and decided to make that our homebase on last week’s trip. Unfortunately, our trip started out with a bad Airbnb experience. I had doubts about a place I had found due to some health concerns (based on a previous guest’s review), but communication with the owner led me to believe that she had cleaned up the property and things should be fine. When we arrived, we found the musty and moldy smell throughout the whole property and realized that I would not be able to sleep there due to issues with asthma. This was terribly disappointing and we were forced to try to find other accommodations for a week that included a bank holiday. Fortunately, through Expedia I was able to find the Windsor Townhouse and we spent one night there while looking for an apartment for the rest of our stay. We were able to find a beautiful flat in our budget through Bath Holiday Properties and felt very fortunate to find something last minute that worked out so well for us. Another bit of good news is that I received a full refund through Airbnb so no money was lost! So finding the new accommodation and moving there and settling in took up most of our first full day. The next day, we took a day trip by train to Cardiff. Once in Cardiff, we took a taxi to Saint Fagans National Museum of History, which is a highly recommended outdoor museum with buildings from different periods of Welsh history. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting and spent about three hours there, although one could easily spend an entire day. We then spent a few hours in Cardiff. We had planned to go inside the castle, but instead walked around the city and ended up taking an earlier train back to Bath (we weren’t crazy about Cardiff, but hope to visit more of Wales on another trip.) The next day, we took a day trip to the Cotswolds with Mad Max tour company. Lion tours also runs a similar Cotswolds tour and I wasn’t sure which one to go with, but we were very pleased with Mad Max. Our guide was excellent and we were completely charmed by the beautiful Cotswold villages. The next morning, due to several recommendations from this forum, we took a 15 minute train to Bradford on Avon. This was a charming little village and we enjoyed walking around and having tea at the Bridge Tea Room, which was a highlight for me! Most of our trips tend to be spent running around trying to fit in all the sites, but this one was much more relaxed and I feel like we enjoyed it so much more. We are completely in love with Bath and are already making plans for another visit! We had originally planned to spend our last day and night in Windsor to be closer to fly out of Heathrow the next day, but ended up staying an extra night in Bath and taking a direct bus to Heathrow. I should also mention that the city of Bath runs a “Mayor’s Tour” twice a day for free (no tipping allowed!) We had a wonderful guide who took us on a two hour tour and was so informative! Thanks so much to everyone who gave advice that helped make our trip so delightful!

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8249 posts

Thanks so much for posting! I love Bath as well. There is so much to see!

Next time add Prior Park to your list. I'd check with the Tourist Information office on bus routes up the hill. I walked and it was strenuous (like I had to stop a LOT, lol!!) so it might not work for your Mom (although truth be told...I might be older than she is!). Anyway, once you enter the park it's downhill thru the gardens to the Palladian Bridge feature. Very cool!

So sorry you had the issue with the Air BnB and moldy smell - I can't tolerate that either.

It's good to hear you enjoyed Bradford-on-Avon. I've peered out at it from the train and it looks so cute!

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519 posts

Thanks for the tip, Pam! We will definitely go back. We actually didn’t even make it into the Abbey and this was our second time there! So we have a few things on our list for next time! The park sounds beautiful!!

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8249 posts

If you have a choice of times to visit, I'd also schedule it around the beginning weekend of the Jane Austen Festival. I did that a few years ago ahead of a Best of England tour and it was so cool! I LOVED seeing Regency-era costumed people walking around Bath! If either of you read JA or other Regency era novels this just completes your fantasies. I also really enjoyed the Holburne Museum and the #1 Royal Crescent Museum. Plus last year I loved walking along the river to the Kennet and Avon Canal. My travel companions pooped out on me when I wanted to walk along the canal but I will do that next time. Also talked with a birding group who had a spotting scope set up beside the river focused in on a Peregrine Falcon nesting box on the tower of the Roman Catholic church that backs up onto the river. I'll shut up now because I could go on...and on...and on!

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519 posts

Sounds wonderful! We were lucky enough to see some actors and actresses in regency dress at the Assembly Rooms filming something. The tour guide said she thought it was going to be on Netflix but wasn’t sure of the title. We loved seeing the costumes!

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1078 posts

Sounds like a lovely week! I have daytripped in Bath twice but could happily make it a base for a week! I took a look at Bath Holiday Properties and they have some lovely places - I saved the website. :)

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1078 posts

kristen, I just saw on Mad Max’s Instagram that “Bridgerton”, with Julie Andrews, is being shot in Bath now (for Netflix). Something to keep an eye out for!

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519 posts

Thanks so much, travelmom! Must be what we saw! I definitely want to catch that one!

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25 posts

Kristen: Tell me more about your Mad Max tour of the Cotswolds. Thank you.

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519 posts

Hi Carole, the tour was called the Best of the Cotswolds. I think we made five stops. Castle Combe was our favorite. We had a guide/driver and a 16 passenger van. We had some free time at each stop. Mom and I both loved the tour and would highly recommend it!

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25 posts

Thanks, Kristen, for the info. Do you remember the other stops? I am planning on taking the RS BOE tour next year which goes to the Cotswolds. I wanted to do more in the area but did not know how much duplication there may be between the RS tour and the Mad Max tour.

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2791 posts

@Carole We took a very enjoyable Mad Max morning tour to Avebury, Lacock and Castle Combe.

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8249 posts

Carole, I've done both the Best of England tour and then a couple of years later did the Mad Max Full day Cotswolds tour with other family members (after the Villages of Southern England tour).

The Mad Max tour moves pretty fast but on my particular tour spent the most time in Castle Combe (which you'll see on the BOE) and in Stow on the Wold where you'll stay for 2 nights on the BOE. We spent a short time in Bibury walking past Arlington Row but to tell the truth that little village was so packed it was not pleasant. Same with our time in Bourton on the Water. We did have a nice stop in Malmsbury at the Abbey there which we did not see on the BOE.

Sometimes on the BOE the guide will take people on a walk thru the countryside and a few villages. Our guide took us thru Upper and Lower Slaughter ending in Bourton on the Water. I suspect each guide has his/her favorite route so I'm not sure what others have done for the walk.

Having done both, I'd say the Mad Maxx is a duplicate of many of the sights that day with much less time to spend at them than on the RS tour. I do hope you'll plan to arrive early to Bath!

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25 posts

Pam: What time of the year did you take the Mad Max tour? I am planning to go in May. Would the villages be less crowded then?

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8249 posts

We were there the 1st Monday in June which was, I think, the week after the Bank Holiday/school holiday week. They all looked like tourists....hahaha...as did we.

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1838 posts

For anyone in the UK on Saturday 14 Sept. 2019, the locals will be having a Regency costumed parade through the city starting at 11am. (It is free to watch as the locals have to pay to take part). I will try and pop over for a look if the weather is good.https://www.janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk/promenade/

Note that a bus run by Easyway (32A) leaves Westgate Street in Cardiff city centre usually every 30 minutes to St.Fagans.

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561 posts

Kristen,

So good to read! I visited in the 1980s and recall it being my favorite town in all of England.

My husband and I just returned from a 10-day trip to London, Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrew's and are planning a month-long stay in September 2020. We fell in love with England and Scotland so are looking for that "perfect" place to park for a month. Not too touristy and not too sleepy. We both will work throughout the week but use evenings to soak up the culture and weekends to do a few day trips. We want to go to the Cotswolds, York, Windsor and London.

Is Bath a place you would recommend for a month? We may look into a house exchange.

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519 posts

CaliMom- I would completely love to stay in Bath as a homebase for a month! I am sure there are other charming and maybe less touristy towns, but I really love Bath! It seems like it’s in a good location to do a lot of day trips, the Cotswolds, Wales, London, and I’m sure others here will have lots more recommendations!

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1838 posts

Yesterday (Sat 14 September 2019) the weather was glorious = 20C & blue skies/ no wind - so I did indeed go to Bath. The Jane Austen Parade was wonderful & prior to it starting, I mingled with the participants in Sydney Gardens. I met 2 American women from Phoenix who were actually taking part in the parade and had made their own ‘outfits’. Apparently, anyone can take part in the parade - so, although mainly the locals, anyone can just show up and join them - as long as you are in Regency period dress. They were planning a day trip by train to Cardiff to see the Castle and wanted to see the sea. (No mention of going to St. Fagans - which would be at the top of my list). I would advise that the ‘sea’ at Cardiff is mainly the rather muddy Severn estuary and you would need to go a bit further down the coast to see the sea proper. Anyway, a short train ride from Cardiff to Penarth for a walk on the pier with views up and down the Bristol Channel is perhaps worth it. Barry Island has a sandy beach and a rather tacky funfair and still the murky water.

In the afternoon, I went to Dyrham Park - a large National Trust property near where the A46 from Bath meets the M4 at junction 18. The grounds were lovely, the house a bit disappointing as it is gradually being restored.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park

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519 posts

James- sounds like a wonderful day! I would love to dress up and participate in the parade someday!!