A Leisurely Bath: England’s Spa City

This bridge has shops across its entire length.
The Pulteney Bridge crosses the River Avon and is one of only a few bridges in the world with shops across its entire span.

As dusk settled in I wandered north of the city center to the River Avon. Turning aside to follow a canal, I passed men in their boats drinking inside smoky hulls, doing repairs or barbecuing on the banks with their families. The day melted into darkness, and I left the canal to work my way through tangled streets to my hostel.

The fortune of this city has always been linked to its hot springs and tourism. In the past it has attracted such well-known persons as Jane Austen (who included Bath in her novels Persuasion andNorthangeAbbey), Charles Dickens, William Thackeray and Australia’s founding father Admiral Arthur Phillip.

The modern tourists who flock here will find an array of accommodations to suit their fancies and wallets, from the beautifully restored Bath Spa Hotel to the modestly priced St. Christopher’s Inn, which boasts a picturesque view of the street from the second-story rooms and a rousing pub at floor level.

As I left Bath Spa Train Station a few days later, I carried with me a treasury of memories: afternoons punting on the Avon with new friends; wandering the residential streets; watching street performers; licking ice cream in the summer heat; and evenings sampling Pimm’s in a quiet pub or joining the throngs of vacationers in their merrymaking.

Slipping along the rails passing through green pastures, I felt I had discovered a special place — one that had been found before by so many, and would continue to be enjoyed by so many more.

If You Go

Bath Tourism