TOURS OF SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND
You are spoilt for choice for beautiful and fascinating places to visit on easy day trips from Bath. I can arrange transport for you – a very comfortable chauffeur-driven vehicle or a coach – and provide commentary on the journeys, or I can meet you in the destinations.
Here are the most popular places I take guests on guided tours.
Stonehenge and Avebury
Stonehenge is of course one of the most famous wonders of the prehistoric world. It’s not just a pile of old stones. On a guided tour I’ll shed light on when, why and how the monument was probably built, and reveal some of the mysteries in the surrounding landscape of Salisbury Plain.
Stonehenge is very much worth visiting on its own. But you could also tie in a visit with Avebury. Its prehistoric stone circle is the biggest of its kind in Britain and encompasses a village, and, unlike at Stonehenge, you can walk among the stones.
Lacock and Castle Combe
With their ancient, half-timbered and stone buildings, exploring these immensely photogenic villages is like stepping back in time. Lacock is owned by the National Trust. Both the village and the cloisters of Lacock Abbey were used as locations for the Harry Potter films.
Castle Combe, meanwhile, has been voted the prettiest village in England. It is picturesquely set on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, in a valley along a little river.
The two villages are just 20 minutes’ drive apart, so combine well. Starting and returning to Bath, Lacock and Castle Combe make a good half-day trip, and with Stonehenge a perfect full day’s tour.
The undoubted highlight of Wiltshire’s only city is the cathedral. Dating from the 13th century, it boasts the tallest spire in the UK, and has one of only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta in its Chapter House. The gated Cathedral Close, lined with magnificent old buildings, is a magical, serene space.
Salisbury and Stonehenge combine well, as they are just 15 minutes’ drive from each other.
I love taking guests on tours exploring what is effectively the capital of South West England. Bristol has a fascinating maritime heritage, ancient pubs with piracy links, and deep and complex ties with the transatlantic slave trade – you may remember the toppling in 2020 of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston, which was international news.
There are also memorable sights associated with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, such as the SS Great Britain ship and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which dramatically spans the Avon Gorge. Street art – works by Banksy and much else besides – is another big draw in Bristol.
A two- or three-hour walking tour of the city centre and harbour will give you a good overview. Bristol is a 15-minute train ride from Bath.
Wells and Glastonbury
Wells lies about an hour’s drive south of Bath, through green and rolling Somerset countryside. England’s smallest city (population 12,000) is a gem. I’ll show you around the glorious Gothic cathedral (a highlight is the world’s second oldest clock!) and the moated Bishop’s Palace, and take you to the Vicar’s Close, the oldest continuously inhabited street in the country.
A short drive away lies Glastonbury, where I can immerse you in Arthurian legends, take you up the mystical Tor, show you around the ruined abbey, and take you past Worthy Farm, site of the Glastonbury Festival.
I lived in the county of Dorset for much of my childhood. Highlights include the geological wonders of the Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site) at Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, and Corfe Castle, one of the most striking ruined castles you’ll ever see. I can also take you to places associated with Thomas Hardy, who lived in and wrote so evocatively about the area.
These suggestions are far from exhaustive. South West England is packed with historic towns and villages, beautiful gardens, magnificent stately homes, glorious countryside, and a long, dramatic coastline. Just give me an idea of what interests you and how much time you have, and I can put together an itinerary.