A few weeks ago I took a trip cross-country to meet my boyfriend’s parents. I also had the pleasure of visiting a part of the country I’ve never been to before: Somerset. I’ve wanted to visit Bath for years. As you might have guessed by reading my Naples post, I’m very interested in Ancient Rome, so the amazingly well-preserved Roman Baths were a must-see.
Upon arriving, I discovered this wasn’t the only interesting sight in Someset. We first went to Bath Abbey, one of the most striking religious destinations in South West Engand. Just around the corner we looked around the incredibly helpful Tourist Information Centre, where we picked up flyers for far more attractions than we could possibly hope to visit.
The Tourist Information Centre helped us make our decision for lunch: Sally Lunn’s, the home of the original Bath bun. I honestly can’t recommend this cafe enough; the delicious bread/bun/cake amalgamation was delicious with smoked salmon for savoury, and jam and cream for sweet. There is also a museum detailing the history of the house and bun, with entry free of charge to all diners.
The afternoon we had planned to visit the Roman Baths, then perhaps the William Herschel Museum of Astronomy, or the Jane Austen Centre. But there was so much to see and do in the Baths, it ended up taking us several enjoyable hours to get around. The use of the location throughout the ages as a place of worship, healing and socialisation has overridden culture and time-period boundaries, and, despite the now-known scientific cause of the hot water spring on the site, its presence has brought people together since its discovery. The Baths used a combination of audio-tour, exhibits and live actors to bring the complex to life. One of the pools was offered as a wishing pool, and all pennies thrown in would be donated to redeveloping the site: there were still many areas of the baths known about but not yet excavated. Before leaving we were offered the opportunity to taste the famous healing water; sadly the healthy minerals give it a less-than-pleasant taste. But the most exciting part of the visit? You can hire out the Roman Baths for functions.
While in Somerset I also visited the Westbury White Horse, a horse shape carved in the chalk rocks that lie shallowly below the grass in this area of the country. We took some kites to fly up there, and the experience was very quaintly English: exactly what you would expect of Somerset. I also, naturally, tasted some local cider.
Somerset is not necessarily considered a great tourist destination, but for the long weekend we were there we had plenty to do, and I’m looking forward to my next visit immensely. Has anyone else visited, and what attractions would you recommend for my next trip south-west?