The ICC Cricket World Cup begins this week and I know quite a few people who are heading to London to cheer our men in blue. If you are in the city and looking for something to do on days between matches, here’s an idea for a day trip from London. Last summer, the husband & I took a tour of Stonehenge & Bath with Take Walks. I have written about their tours in the past. Like this surreal Colosseum by night tour in Rome. Or a busy but fun New York in a day tour. Here’s what to expect on a Stonehenge & Bath day trip from London.
The tour begins from a central London pick-up point in Notting Hill, which is fairly easy to find. We met our guide Gareth and an Aussie family of 3 who was on the tour as well. All tours are small-group tours never exceeding 20 people. This tour had just launched last summer and we were amongst the first few who got to try it out. We drove from London towards Avebury for about two hours with Gareth giving us a crash course in the UK’s pre-history during the Stone Age.
Before heading to Avebury town, we pulled off the highway to go explore a Neolithic tomb called West Kennet Long Barrow. The 100-metre-long mound is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site. The tomb dates to 3650 BC and was the burial site for more than 30 people. Bodies of adults and children were placed in five chambers at the eastern end of the tomb. The mound is a short, slightly uphill walk from the highway.
The remains have been excavated, of course, but you can still see the upright stones at the entrance.
You can also walk inside the chambers that are supported by stones stacked atop each other. The burial mound was in use right up to 2500 BC.
From the top of the mound, you can get a good view of the surrounding countryside. You will notice a small hill rising up on the other side of the highway.
This is Silbury Hill, a massive Neolithic chalk mound, which is the tallest prehistoric manmade mound in Europe. There have been several excavations of the mound, which revealed that it was built in stages between 2400-2300 BC. Its exact purpose is still not clear but it was probably a ritual area of some sort.
We drove onwards to see the Neolithic-era Avebury Henge, a series of 3 stone circles around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire. This is the largest megalithic stone circle in the world though not all stones still stand. We did a drive-by and saw the massive site from the car.
We then drove on to charming Bath, a city founded by the Romans, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It teems with different architectural styles – from the Roman-era baths to the Gothic Bath Abbey to stunning Regency-era architecture.
The latter in particular is an iconic part of the city, especially the Royal Crescent, a sweeping row of 30 terraced houses built in sun-kissed Bath stone.
While wandering around the city, we passed by the Jane Austen Centre. Austen lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806. The city was a popular spa resort and Austen came here to ‘take the waters’ for health reasons.
We then headed over to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths next door.
The Romans built this sprawling complex of baths around a hot water spring. Before we went in, Gareth handed us virtual reality (VR) headsets. Strapping them on, we could get a glimpse of what the baths may have looked 2000 years ago!
We then had a guided tour of the baths itself – minus the VR headsets, of course.
All that walking made us feel peckish and we popped in at Sally Lunn’s for their famous Bath Bun.
The cafe-restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in Bath. It is here that a young French Huguenot refugee Sally Lunn (purportedly) created the Bath Bun sometime in the 17th century. This is a large, circular, very light bun, almost like the French brioche. It’s served halved with a variety of toppings and a side salad.
The husband ordered Roast Vegetable that came with peppers, courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, & onion with pesto mayonnaise.
I tried the Smoked (Scottish) Salmon with lemon, dill, & cream cheese. Both were filling & delicious (though the vegetarian one was more flavourful).
Our final stop was the Stonehenge and we drove straight into a thunderstorm! We popped into the visitor centre where Gareth dug out the VR headsets again and we took another trip back into time, actually seeing how the Stonehenge was built (to the extent that we know about this still mysterious monument).
The Stonehenge looked quite dramatic under the stormy skies and we enjoyed our time there despite getting soaked through (I had one small umbrella that was no match for the torrential downpour).
So if you’re in the UK this summer (or anytime!) try this fun day trip from London to Stonehenge & Bath with Take Walks.
Want to splurge on a fancy stay while you’re there? Get a peek inside the venerable Ritz London in my article for National Geographic Traveller India. It’s as fancy as you have imagined it, and then some more. Given its central location, it’s ideal for a day trip from London.
Get more recommendations on where to stay & eat, and what to do in London in my article for Deccan Herald.
Have you tried a day trip from London? Where did you go? Leave us a message below.