I love Bath in winter. The shops always look so enticing and the golden glow of the stone buildings seems to warm the coldest air. Wintertime is the perfect occasion to visit this beautiful English city and simply explore the historic streets, discover something new, and look for Christmas gifts.
Bath Christmas Market is a highlight of visits to the city and occurs between late November to early December. Stalls cluster round the Abbey with enticing foods, crafts and inspiring presents. What is good about the Bath Christmas Market is that a lot of the products come from the surrounding region. You’ll find superb cheeses, first class ciders, and much more here.
A walk around the historic streets of Bath is a must. I always seem to find something new when I explore the city renowned for its regency architecture. Walking across Pulteney Bridge on a frosty morning is a delight with the river crashing below. I was reminded of the scene in Les Miserables when Javert jumps into the river- this was filmed here. Pulteney Bridge is Bath’s answer to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and is simply magnificent. Lots of the shops in Bath are very traditional and as I walked across the bridge I saw A. J. Hale the pharmacy. Inside is a fabulous display of the old traditional bottles and jars used in Victorian times. The pharmacy itself dates from 1824.
Walking onwards through the shopping area from Milsom Street to George Street towards the older areas of town I arrived at the Circus. This is one of Bath’s most famous architectural gems with regency houses aligned in a near circle. But the highlight of the day was yet to come. In the centre of town Bath Abbey had tower tours and on a freezing cold day how could I resist.
The tour is brilliant but involved climbing a total of 220 steep steps so is not for the faint hearted. As you climb the medieval steps it feels like you are exploring a hidden part of the city. The first 120 are the more difficult with protruding pipes from the Second World War. And indeed, once at the ringing chamber where the 10 bells are rung each Sunday and on special occasions, this is a fascinating insight into the campanology of the abbey. There’s an automatic chime too which plays anything from a carol to Lady Gaga. There is a spot where you are actually standing on top of Bath Abbey’s famous fan vaulted ceiling. But my tour was not finished yet and I climbed upwards to the roof where the whole city lay below including the Christmas Market. I could see the Roman baths, the rugby ground and much more as I sipped my well deserved hot chocolate.
For me, Bath always has something new to see. It is one of my old favourites and one I’ll return to again and again.