Friday, 1 March 2019

The Great West Way - Day 1 Bristol to Bath

My husband Marcus and I love travelling and exploring the UK, so we were excited when we were invited on a press trip touring the Great West Way recently. This is what we got up to on our trip, all activities were complimentary but as always all thoughts and opinions are our own. We were not paid for this trip.

The Great West Way is a new 125 touring route between London and Bristol based on ancient roads. The route goes through some of the UK's most beautiful villages, historic towns and magnificent cities and is rich in history and culture. 

As we live in South Wales, we did the route in reverse, starting in Bristol and headed towards London. That's the beauty of this route, you can start at either end, or even in the middle, hop off to explore the places along the way and then hop back on to your next destination. 

Day 1 Bristol to Bath


Bristol

Bristol is a city that has a vibrancy and personality that is big and bold. Known for its street art (Banksy's art grew from its underground scene), nightlife and restaurant scene, Bristol is a happening city with a lot going on. 

We've been to Bristol a number of times, being only an hour's drive from where we live. Particular favourite areas are the Harbourside area, with At-Bristol the science museum and the SS Great Britain designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the shopping at Cabot's Circus. 


This time, we decided to explore Clifton more, an upscale suburb of Bristol and home to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

It was a crisp cold day, and Mr W was dressed warmly for a tour of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, whilst I decided to go and explore the cute shops in Clifton. 


I was tempted by a globe of the world in the shop Pod but managed to resist. However, I couldn't resist a hot chocolate in Bar Chocolat as it was freezing outside!


After a wander around Clifton, taking in the antique shops, jewellers and great places to eat (I spotted a branch of The Ivy restaurant) I caught up with Mr W on his adventures under the vaults of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel is a Grade 1 listed structure which first opened in 1864.


Marcus took a trip down into the vaults on the Leigh Woods side. Amazingly It wasn't until 2002 that the small entrance was found into the chambers. You have to wear a hard hat to explore the vaults, but it's worth the effort. A tour of the vaults can be organised between Easter and October. You can read more about the fascinating vaults of Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge here.


For lunch, we went into the centre of Bristol and stopped by at the Prince Street Social. This restaurant and bar situated opposite the Bristol Hotel has a cool modern vibe and serves an eclectic menu. Lunch included such treats as a fish finger sandwich and pulled pork burger to a vegan club sandwich and vegetable crisps.

I opted for a 'posh kebab' with harissa-marinated chicken on a flatbread with homemade slaw and tzatziki, whilst Marcus went for a sweet potato and mixed bean burger with green tomato relish and fries which was vegan. We thought the food was good, My pitta bread was tasty with and the shredded cabbage, adding some crunch and freshness, the scattering of chillis a little heat. 

Our next stop was Bath but check out where to stay if you are ever in the Bristol area below.

Where to stay


I can highly a hotel we stayed at before called The Bristol Hotel. Situated on the harbour front with a fabulous restaurant called The River Grille, it's a great stylish hotel. We've stayed here three times now and it gets better every time we visit.

Bath



So back on the Great West Way route and off to Bath we went. Now I have to be clear here, I want to live in Bath and I have wanted to for ages, I adore this city! A 45-minute drive from Bristol takes you into the centre of this historic city.

The city of Bath was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa and in the 18th century, under George III, it developed into an elegant town with neoclassical Palladian buildings, but more of that in my day two post.


Today we were exploring the Jane Austen Centre. Jane Austen, the author, lived in Bath for five years and wrote two of her books in Bath, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.  
Her books became famous for vividly depicting middle-class life during the early 19th century. 

At the Jane Austen Centre, you are greeted with the costumed guides who weave stories of Jane, her family life and her time in Bath. 


It was interesting to find out that Jane wasn't famous until after her death. When she was alive her books weren't published under her name but with the credit 'by a lady'. 




The Jane Austen Centre is worth visiting if you are Jane Austen novice but have an interest in her life. It's a small museum so plan to spend an hour or so there. You can try on the clothes that used to be worn in Jane's day as well which is a fun five minutes! You can also have afternoon tea in the tea room attached. Tickets cost £12 for adults, but if you visit before midday and book online you can make a small saving on the price.



Then it was time to check in to the hotel for the night. A short walk from the centre of Bath is the Roseate Villa, a well-appointed boutique hotel with its own parking. After a warm welcome by the receptionist, we were shown to our room. 



When we got to the room, the welcome plate was a nice surprise - macaroons, my favourite!

The room was luxuriously appointed and generous in size, and with the orange and check furnishings had a slightly Scottish feel. 

The bathroom was decorated in black and white and had a bath with rainfall shower. 

Penhaligon toiletries were the icing on the cake and smelt divine. The room also had a small fridge with soya milk ready for me as well as a tea and coffee tray with homemade biscuits. Yummy!

We had an afternoon tea booked so after a quick freshen up it was time to go to the dining room.


With a picturesque view over Henrietta Park, the Henrietta dining room makes a lovely place to take afternoon tea. 

It's a grand room but the service wasn't stuffy, in fact, it was informative and welcoming from Caroline the manager and Jean-Luc the waiter, who were rightly proud of the quality of the food.

You have a choice of 18 loose leaf award-winning teas followed by freshly cut sandwiches and an array of beautifully presented dainty cakes. 



The sandwiches included a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, such as egg mayonnaise and salmon and were fresh and tasty.

The scones were warm and simply delicious accompanied by strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. There is also an option to have a glass of champagne but we declined on this occasion.  


I have to say the cakes were exceptional! The choux pastry with salted caramel popcorn and chantilly cream was outstanding as well as the dainty lemon tarts in sweet crisp pastry, and the chocolate orange macaroons were divine too. I honestly thought I was in dessert heaven. The cakes are made on the premises by the night baker and really were some of the best I've tried. 

I did my best to eat everything, but had to take some to our room to finish off later - it's a hard life!

So full as could be, we had a little snooze... I mean relax in the room before heading off that night to the Bath Brew House and the James Street Brewery to find out about their small batch beers.


The Bath Brew House is located on James Street West, in the heart of the city. They call themselves a brewpub and they have been brewing ales for five years. 

Diane showed us the brewing process and we tried a selection of bitter, pale ale and a porter stout made on site by Max the brewer.  Marcus and I both liked the porter, it has similarities to Guinness but was not as heavy and rich which is a good thing. 


After the beer, it was time for more food! The menu at the Bath Brew House is full of pub classics, such as beer battered fish and chips but also dishes with a contemporary twist such as Moroccan spiced fish kebab and vegan jambalaya.  My half pound burger with cheese and bacon and skin on fries was excellent, the burger was juicy and well seasoned and the fries were big and chunky like proper chips. 

So waddling back to the hotel like ducks after too much food we declared our first day on the Great West Way a success. Tomorrow we would be visiting the Roman Baths and taking a walking tour of Bath with the company Around And About Bath, before making our way to Lacock and Devizes. Watch out for day 2 and day 3 on the blog soon.

*AD thanks to the Great West Way for inviting us on this press trip

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25 comments

  1. I love the idea of getting to explore the UK more. When I was younger my family traveled all over the UK and I have fond memories of learning about our lovely country and the history.

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    1. We have such a lovely country, with loads of history, incredible people and amazing food. I need to explore the UK more too!

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  2. We love exploring the UK - however we take our pup with us a lot of the time. I wonder if this would have been appropriate for him - maybe part of? Either way - this would be great as we do like the south west of the UK in particular.

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    1. There are a number of hotels that accept dogs these days, I am not sure which though, so you would need to check with the hotels direct.

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  3. I really want to go and visit Bath as I didn't get to explore much last time I was there. Sounds like a great trail x

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  4. I am loving discovering Bristol now that Kian is at university there, Bath is next on my list

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  5. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I am loving the look of that Afternoon tea for sure! x

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  6. I've started planning a trip along a route similar to this for later in the year but now I have a ready made plan to follow. Excellent!

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    1. That's great to know Kathryn. If you need any help let me know.

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  7. I bet you had a really wonderful time. I have to add Bath on my list. I'm sure my teens would love to come.

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  8. Looked like you had a lovely time x

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  9. The south west isn’t an area I’ve really explored before and from your trip I would love to check out the science museum and as Great Britain the most. The posh kebabs look great and full of flavour harissa is a great spice to use.

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  10. Whoever that night baker is, I want to marry them! Wow that plate of cakes was calling out me 🤣 What a great trip - just a bit jealous!

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  11. I love Bristol. I went to uni there many years ago.

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  12. Looks like you had a lovely time there . We’ve never been but hoping to travel more of the uk this year with the kiddies

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  13. I love the idea of this tour. We've visited Bristol many times as well and SS Great Britain is my favourite thing to visit in the city. I've been to Bath once with a blogger friend but it was a whistle-stop tour and I'd love to return.

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    1. Bath is an amazing city, as is Bristol. Two very different cities but so much to do in both.

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  14. We are trying to explore as much of the UK as we possibly can as a family. This sounds like such a perfect adventure for us.

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  15. I so want to do this route now- didn’t know it was a thing. Every point you stopped at sounds so amazing and all that lovely food sounds like it added to the adventure. Bath is beautiful but would like to explore it more.

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    1. Hope you check out day 2 and day 3 of the trip later this month on my blog.

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  16. I've not been to Bristol in years! You've really got me wanting to go and retrace your steps from there to Bath though as it looks like my sort of trip :)

    Louise x

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  17. This post has reminded me that theres still so much of the UK that I'm yet to discover! xxx

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  18. I've never been to Bristol but we do love Bath! What a great route!

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