Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Bath
2nd August 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
The whole of Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the only city in the UK to boast this achievement, and this is only one reason why people should visit this fascinating place.
Although the city is home to ancient Roman buildings and other examples of architecture spanning the last 10 centuries, Bath is still accessible to older people with mobility problems. The city boasts a Shopmobility service that allows all visitors to hire electric scooters, powered wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs during their trip.
So, even if you struggle to get around and need walk in shower enclosures at home or stairlifts to get around, the city is accessible for all. Here is a guide about the best attractions to visit, restaurants to eat at, tours to go on and other activities for those with limited mobility.
Best attractions to visit
There are lots of accessible attractions in Bath and here are some of the best that should be on your must-visit list.
The Roman Baths
Located in the heart of the city, one of the most iconic attractions in Bath is the Roman Baths. Visitors can walk around this magnificent temple where Romans bathed nearly 2,000 years ago.
Don’t miss the temple of Sulis Minerva where Roman worshippers gathered and the museum. Visitors can even meet costumed characters who bring stories from the past to life.
Despite being built thousands of years ago, the attraction is accessible to those with limited mobility as lifts are available and 90 per cent of the site is accessible to wheelchair users. The audio guides that are available also help visitors learn about the rich history of the baths.
Theatre Royal Bath
The Theatre Royal Bath may be one of Britain’s oldest working theatres, but recent renovations now mean the theatre is accessible for those with mobility problems as a new passenger lift has been built.
The theatre, which was built in 1805, and its three auditoria, the beautiful Georgian Main House, state-of-the art Ustinov Studio Theatre and award-winning egg theatre for children and families, are still hugely popular and offer a year-round programme of drama, comedy and dance.
There are also some great places to eat inside the theatre, such as the ground floor egg café and the historic Garrick’s Head pub.
Thermae Bath Spa
Thermae Bath Spa is the only place in the UK where you can bathe in the natural thermal, mineral-rich waters just like the Celts and Romans would have more than 2,000 years ago. The spa is located in the centre of the city in Bath Street and Hot Bath Street and is really close to the Roman Baths.
The main attraction for visitors is the naturally warm, mineral-rich water, which feeds the four thermal baths. However, there is a Wellness Suite, restaurant, two shops and a Spa Visitor Centre that visitors can head to and the spa offers a huge choice of spa treatments and packages. The complex is a combination of old and new, where historic spa buildings blend with contemporary design.
The spa is wheelchair accessible and has lifts, sloping corridors and ramps to all areas. There are also ‘special assistance’ wheelchairs for guests to gain access to the facilities and there are assisted pool access chairs or hoists allowing those with limited mobility access to the pools. The lifeguards are all full trained in operating the chairs and hoists as well.
The Fashion Museum
Those who love fashion should certainly visit the Fashion Museum in Bath which is home to one of the world’s leading collections of historic and fashionable dress.
From Georgian gowns to modern designs from today’s most prominent designers, visitors can see how styles have changed and in some cases come back into fashion. The museum even has a dressing-up room where people of all ages can try on coats, hats, corsets, dresses and bonnets.
The attraction is great for those with mobility problems as the museum is accessible to wheelchair users and there is a lift from the ground floor to the museum.
Victoria Art Gallery
The Victoria Art Gallery opened way back in 1900 and boasts a huge array of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts.
Centrally located, the gallery is free to visit and with over 1,500 pieces of artwork there’s plenty to see, including works from well-known local artists Thomas Gainsborough and Walter Sickert.
The gallery offers ramped access and a lift for visitors who have trouble walking and there is an accessible toilet on the first floor. The Victoria Art Gallery also hosts activities for disabled groups.
Best restaurants in bath
Bath is full of amazing restaurants; from fine dining experiences to cheap eats. Here are a few recommended eateries.
Brasserie Blanc in Bath adjoins the Francis Hotel in Queen Square in the city centre.
The brasserie has a large bar space, making it easy for those with mobility problems to get around, as well as large family tables. It is open every day for breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner.
The restaurant is just five minutes away from the theatre and the spa and is the perfect place to go and eat before or after a show or a visit to the spa.
Its à la carte menu is always offering something new to customers and all its daily specials are freshly cooked. Brasserie Blanc also boasts a seasonal set menu, which is very reasonably priced with two courses costing just £11.95 for lunch or dinner.
The Olive Tree
The award-winning Olive Tree is one of Bath’s oldest independent eateries and the restaurant, which is located in the Queensberry Hotel, is not only popular with visitors, but locals alike.
The restaurant should be on any visitor’s list of places to eat at as its fine dining experience has been created by well-known head chef Chris Cleghorn, who learned his trade under the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Michael Caines and Adam Simmonds.
By combining classical flavours with modern cooking techniques the restaurant really does offer customers a unique menu that boasts the best of British.
Best tours to go on
Sometimes it can be difficult for those with mobility problems to get around on sightseeing tours, but here we guide you through some great tours visitors can go on to see the city of Bath in all its splendour.
Bath Parade Guides
Bath Parade Guides was established over 40 years ago and the tour company are a co-operative of blue badge tourist guides and are members of The Institute of Tourist Guiding and The British Guild of Registered Tourist Guides.
There are 31 guides working at Bath Parade Guides and several tour leaders have taken part in a Disability Accessibility course. Tours of the city are spoken not only in English but French, Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian as well.
The tour operators offer both walking and coach tours of Bath and all its attractions as well as offering trips to the Cotswolds, Avebury and Stonehenge, Wells and Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels/Mendip Hills.
City sightseeing bus tour
Those who really struggle to walk long distances should consider going on the City Sightseeing Bus Tour.
The bright red, open-topped bus can be caught from 38 stops throughout the city and according to Bath Tourism the trip takes approximately 50 minutes, although those on the tour can hop on and off as many times as they like. The bus tours don’t just cover the centre of the city, but the outskirts of Bath as well.
This is a great way to discover the city and the knowledgeable tour guide will be able to talk about Bath’s rich history as well as other interesting and unusual facts. Earphones are provided for listening to commentary in ten different languages.
Sightseeing boat tours
Bath is surrounded by a number of waterways and a unique way of seeing the city is by going on a sightseeing boat tour.
Exploring the city by boat is a great way to see the area and visitors can choose from a lazy weekend trip along the Kennet & Avon on a canal boat or a more romantic river cruise that stops at some of the iconic waterside pubs.
If you are looking to visit other attractions that are slightly off the beaten track or want to take part in other unique activities, then take a look at the following.
Take a day trip to Farleigh Hungerford Castle
Although not in Bath, Farleigh Hungerford Castle is only nine miles away from Bath on the border between Wiltshire and Somerset.
Set in the valley of the River Frome, the remains of Farleigh Hungerford Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, has much for visitors to enjoy.
The fortified mansion was owned by the Hungerford family and now through audio tours and interpretation panels their remarkable and sometimes gruesome story is told.
Visitors who have mobility problems can walk around the ruins as they are on a flat part of the land and after wandering around the ruins there is a chapel with rare medieval wall paintings and tombs to explore.
Walking around Bath
Another great activity to try in Bath is to walk around the city and its surrounding areas to get a glimpse at just how wonderful the city is.
Walking in Somerset has hundreds of walks to download and print for free and the experts that run the site have recommended lots of walks around the city.
John Harris, who helps to run the site, says: “There is so much walking information on the web but it is difficult to find. Walking in Somerset has brought it together in one place so whether you are walking from home, or away on holiday, you will be able to find a walk suitable for you.”
One such walk that is recommended is the Public House Walk and it is described as an interesting walk that includes the Botanical Gardens, Royal Crescent and Circus. The entire walk is 2.2 miles long, but with a level and good surface underfoot the entire way, it is suitable for those with mobility problems.
Image Credit: Visit Bath, Brasserie Blanc, Freia Turland.