London is a great base for day trips and the English countryside surely is dotted with charming villages and lovely towns worth discovering even if only for a few hours.
Having previously visited Bath and Stonehenge years ago, we decided that refreshing our memory wouldn't be a bad thing, as long as new experiences were added to the mixture. We joined Premium Tours for one of their newest day trips that included a visit of Bath, Lacock, Salisbury Cathedral and champagne reception at Stonehenge. Since this was the last day of our 6 weeks trip though the UK, there couldn't have been a better way to end our journey than with a glass of bubbly.
|Pulteney Bridge, Bath|
They picked us up from our hotel early in the morning and drove us to the hectic Victoria Coach Station where we met our guide and switched to a smaller, more comfortable coach. This tour is organised only for small groups of maximum 15 people, which made the experience pretty intimate and pleasant.
The first stop was at the beautiful city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had fallen in love with it years ago and we were happy to rediscover it by following our guide for a short introductory tour of the city that included a sneak peak at the magnificent Royal Crescent and other stately Georgian architectural marvels. However, when we were left to freely explore the city, we decided to visit the Abbey and have a look at Pulteney Bridge, one of only four bridges in the world with shops across its full span on both sides.
Having visited the Roman Baths before, we did not go inside this time around, but I can assure you they are a must. Bath was famous for its hot springs and spas ever since the Roman times. It was later on revived starting with the Elizabethan age and Princess Victoria inaugurated one of the first British public parks outside of London here. Nevertheless, the event did not end up very well, since during the ceremony a gust of wind blew up the princesse's dress and she did not take kindly the comments that she had chubby ankles. She vowed never to visit Bath again due to humiliation and later on, as a queen, she would always shut the curtain when her train passed through Bath.
|King Bladud's Pig in Bath|
Our next stop was in the village of Lacock. Most of the group decided to have lunch here at one of the local pubs dating back to the 14th century, however, we felt compelled to skip it and rather take pictures of the unspoiled village steeped in history.
Lacock served as a film set for Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. No wonder, since its stone and half-timbered houses are delightful to say the least.
For photography enthusiast, Lacock holds a very special meaning, since it was here where in 1835 Talbot made the earliest known surviving example of a photographic negative, a print of one of the windows of the Abbey. Later on he discovered the chemical way of recording photographic images.
We visited the church and spotted lots of cute details on the way, however, what impressed us most was this little unattended flower shop where buyers could simply help themselves and leave the money in the letterbox. It's amazing places like this still exist!
Salisbury Cathedral was next on the list. Home of the tallest spire and largest cloister in Britain, the oldest working clock in the world and the best preserved surviving copy of Magna Carta, Salisbury Cathedral is a must visit for any architecture lover.
It also has some amazing stained glass windows and an interesting nave with a cross-shaped fountain in the middle that catches some amazing reflections.
We ended out day trip at Stonehenge, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were received with champagne and homemade shortbread in the newly-opened visitor centre. After an introductory video and a short presentation of the ancient site that we found rather kids orientated, we had plenty of time to visit the new interactive museum and the henge.
Ancient history always fascinated us. Even though there were hundreds of people circling the henge, we found the site to be peaceful and reigned by the local crows that apparently have names that suit their unique personality. We are yet to visit Avebury and Marden Henge, however, Stonehenge being smaller than the other two henges, it is still by far the most beloved one.
The landscape surrounding Stonehenge was so serene, with noting but livestock in sight, we felt mesmerised. The fields of poppies, crops and puffy clouds in all directions were just the perfect ending to our trip.
On the way back, our guide went into further details about the sights we visited during the day and once returned to London, she even made a short introduction about the new trends in the city. We found the tour extremely informative and pleasant. The four locations surely are some of the best England has to offer and shouldn't be missed.