Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bath, Stonehenge and Lacock

Destination # 12: Bath, Somerset, England.

(My first post after the long break!)

Year of visit: 2008

Bath is a breathtaking city located in the south-west of England with its very own distinct character compared to other English cities. One such example is the honey-coloured buildings in the city centre of Bath.

Among the well known places of interests in Bath are the centuries-old Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. The city of Bath is situated about 21km from the city of Bristol and it is conveniently accessible from the city of Bristol by public buses operated by First Group.

Bath Abbey

The Bath Abbey is an Anglican church founded in the 7th century, rebuilt in the 12th and 16th century. It is a fine example of the English Gothic architecture just like many other English cathedrals.

Inside the Bath Abbey

I have seen cathedrals more impressive than the Bath Abbey across England and Europe but few can blend in so nicely with the city and buildings around it like the Bath Abbey.

Roman Baths

Britain was once invaded and occupied by the Romans long before it became the great British Empire which conquered a quarter of the world in its glorious years. The Roman Baths in Bath is one of the remaining signs of Roman occupation. The Roman Baths complex was used for public bathing back in the days of the Roman occupation of Britain and it is said to have been destroyed in the 6th century until major redevelopments were carried out in the 12th and 19th century.

Today's Roman Baths complex is a museum and visitors are restricted from entering the water.
I thought I'll be able to take a dip in the mysterious green waters of the hot spring in the cold British weather but nope we're not allowed to do that. The water is not green because there are herbs or other medicinal elements added to cure diseases but it is green in colour because it is infested with algaes and thousands and millions of protozoa!

The warmth from standing next to the hot spring was quite comforting in the chilly cold temperature. Brr. I remember it was snowing in Manchester when we were in Bath and winter has long passed! It was April!

The city centre of Bath isn't too big. We took a stroll along the high street, window-shopped, looked at some Roman-themed souvenirs, visited a dry local market selling all sorts of unimaginable items commonly found in Asian night markets, took a peek at a local mall filled with expensive restaurants, found some bizarre-looking inner part of a pig displayed at the butcher and spent the rest of the morning admiring the coherently honey-coloured buildings.

You might also want to add the Royal Cresent to the list of interesting buildings to see in Bath. The Royal Cresent is a row of 30 beautiful Georgian-styled residential houses built in the 18th century laid out in a crescent. We had to skip this one because we ran out of time.

You wouldn't want to miss one of the world's most famous prehistoric wonders located in the English county of Wiltshire, not far from the city of Bath. We booked a guided tour from Bath which included a visit to the Stonehenge, a tour of Salisbury and a short stop at the village of Lacock.

A van picked us up from Bath and traveled far out from the city into the English countryside.

I have always wanted to see these popular slabs of stones. The Stonehenge is found right in the middle of no where. It is surrounded by miles and miles of flat lands and hills. There are no signs of habitation anywhere near this monument until today. The Stonehenge is as bizarre as the Egyptian pyramids. How did the humans in the prehistoric age construct these monuments?

Erected circa 2500 B.C

UNESCO World Heritage Site

I remember it was dead cold I couldn't wait to run back to the van.

The strong winds at the plains made it worst.

The Stonehenge is over 5000 years old! It is indeed the most unique and mysterious monument on earth. After the audio tour around the Stonehenge and posing with the stones we hit the road again.

Medieval houses still standing today.

This is a canal seen not far from the Stonehenge. It must be the Kennet and Avon Canal. How do I know? Look up Wikipedia when you didn't pay attention to what your tour guide said! Hehe. It was built in the 18th-19th century. The surroundings were so quaint and I am quite certain I didn't see much of an activity in the canal. Apparently some folks live in those narrow boats in the canal.

Another medieval structure, looks like a castle to me. A perfect film set for horror films.

After miles of maneuvering through narrow and sometimes untarred roads we arrived at this forsaken village, Lacock. The population of this village must be in the mere hundreds. Tourists seem to outnumber the villagers here and the village post office closed down just weeks after we visited Lacock.

A beautiful cafe surrounded by shady trees and flowers in the backyard of an old brick house.

Like the village there was no sign of life.

The only local pub in sight. The village is fairly small and can be explored by foot. It is very well preserved. No wonder it is widely used as a film and television set despite its isolated location and meager population. Some of the well known films and television series filmed in Lacock are Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone , The Other Boleyn Girl and Pride & Prejudice (the original series by BBC).

Church of St Cyriac, Lacock - built in the 15th century and like many other churches in England it was restored in the Victorian age about two centuries ago.

Lacock is dotted with many historical buildings dating back to the 13th century. Most cottages here are said to be constructed in the 18th century or earlier. It was as if I was transported back to the 18th century minus the villagers walking around this quaint village.

'Harry Potter's home' in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

18th century cottages in Lacock.

The day tour of Bath, Stonehenge and the village of Lacock ended just before nightfall, in time for us to catch the next bus back to Bristol.

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