Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The literary pursuit of Travel - Bath and Castle combe

Here is the second installment in what I hope is a series in this blog. This time I take you to England which is the source of literature itself, in its very being. I am not going to write about London just yet, but instead will divert your attention to Wiltshire and Somerset.

I knew I wanted to visit Bath after reading the Austen books. Bath also features in the Pickwick papers by Dickens. Apart from that it is beautifully Gregorian with a well preserved Roman bath that gives the town its name and very scenic. Literature and history? what could possibly be perfectly more inviting?

I wanted to however see Castle Combe, often called the prettiest village in England (though there are several that could live up to that reputation) on the way to Bath. Therefore I got off the train at Chippenham and took a taxi ride to see Castle combe in all of 30 minutes, then got back on the train to Bath. Castle combe was indeed lovely but I think the Cotswolds give it tough competition any day.

It was a chilly spring day, and there was a misty rain in the air as I waited in line at the Roman baths. The baths have existed since the Roman times, when the town was called Aquae sulis. Most of the structure above ground level was reconstructed but the museum does show several artifacts dating back to the Roman times and the original temple steps can be viewed as well.

The hot spring seemed to slightly warm the cold air and you could also taste its water at the posh pump room. It was mildly sulfurous and had mineral overtones but was not as disgusting as was claimed. Right outside the baths is the splendid bath abbey.

After this, I decided to take a walk uphill to see the circus and the royal crescent as well as the Austen house and the fashion museums. The Romans had quite a penchant for building houses around circles, but this just made them all the more fetching. The fashion museum was quite disappointing after the exhibits I had seen at the Met in New York.

The other famous sight in Bath is Pulteney bridge over the river Avon, that is compared with Florence's Ponte Vecchio. It is indeed beautiful but the comparison is totally unwarranted. Both the bridges are lined with shops but I guess the similarity stops there.

Bath is definitely a site worth visiting if you are interested in beautiful architecture, scenic vistas and peaceful walks. Here is a list of books, all set in Bath for reading inspiration before your visit!


Anonymous said...

The Risk Crescent is where i saw a ha-ha for the first time. Clever little things..

Anonymous said...



Mithra Rajah said...

Indeed, very cool looking!