Bloody early day but necessary to make the connections we need to make. First its The Tube to Paddington Station (one of the larger ones in London). There we jump on a train to the town of Bath about 90 minutes away. We splurged on this a bit. We got the Brit Rail pass, paid a little more and got first class seating. The difference brings better seats, much less crowding, a newspaper and a beverage and snack all to help pass the time.
As much as I hoped to see a lot of the country side, quite a bit of the time it seemed more like the rail route was cut right through a forest, given the sheer solidity of the foliage. The glimpses that came provided, as we found out later, a vision of life 400 to 1000 years ago.
Another very gloomy day for the most part. But…wait a minute. What is that bright yellow orb that hangs in the sky? A quick question to a few of the locals brought mostly professions of ignorance. But one old-timer said he remembered it from his youth. Back then it was referred to as…The Sun.
A number of stops along the way, and Bath is now upon us. A quick stroll down the street and we located our ride and driver for the day. Andy, another very knowledgeable guide, the two of us and 14 others climbed aboard his Mercedes Van to become more acquainted with merry old England.
Bath and Edinburgh share some similarities in appearance. During the 1700’s the same groups of people that built Edinburgh, built Bath. A bridge in Bath is modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Venice and is one of only 4 bridges in the world that has shops on both sides of the bridge. The river Avon flows through Bath. Interesting little tidbit is that word Avon means river…so it’s the river River. And, there are 8 rivers Avon in the United Kingdom…4 in England, 3 in Scotland and one in Wales. So…if you talk about the River Avon, you better be rather specific. 🙂
No real surprise is the price of gas. 137.9 per litre and keep in mind that is in English Pounds…comes close to $2.00 Canadian. I guess we don’t have it so bad after all.
This area is renown for numerous things, two of them being crop circles and white horse carvings. Some of the hills in the area are made primarily of white chalk. Dig down a couple of inches and there it is. This has lead to a variety of carvings in the hills of a ‘white horse’. The oldest of these is about 3000 years. Their size can range but one we saw was about 150 feet from nose to tail. Given that size and the fact they are carved right out of the side of a hill, an uncommon carving problem happens. They require weeding. 🙂
Stonehenge was certainly part of this day. After all, being in England and this close it seems almost mandatory to visit this rather thought-provoking ancient artifact. But as interesting as it is, another somewhat less known, less expensive (FREE!), not-roped-off, older and bigger henge was also on our visitation menu.
Avebury was started at about the same time as Stonehenge…about 3000 BC…however it is Much larger. It comprises of the henge (a 9m ditch and 7m bank), an outer sarsen circle (about 1/4 mile in diameter) and two inner sarsen circles (either of which Stonehenge could fit into). And the town of Avebury is also inside that main circle. If you have the chance to see Stonehenge, definitely do so, but don’t pass up an opportunity to visit Avebury.
This entire day has been one of education and discovery. And a lot of walking. We stopped a Lacock for a late lunch. Along with being surrounded by numerous Harry Potter houses (Lacock’s biggest necessity, it seems, was removing the cars), I also found, in the little town bakery, possibly the best oatmeal raisin cookie I’ve ever had. Yeah I know…maybe not quite the biggest revelation ever.
On to Castle Coombe which was another film town. It was used in both the original Dr. Doolittle as well as the more recent War Horse.
The weather was quite cool, but there was no rain and I’ve definitely overcome my initial reluctance to visiting England. Yep…pretty great day.