Adventures around Gloucesterwith PlusBus
Stroll round the cloisters in the footsteps of Harry Potter and friends or along the canal to Gloucester’s National Waterways Museum. See the shop that inspired Beatrix Potter, a medieval priory that survived the centuries and a view across Gloucestershire from the top of a flower-covered hill. A PlusBus ticket can help you explore all these and more; just ask for PlusBus when you buy your train ticket.
1. A Tale of two Potters
Discover the medieval cloisters that became part of Hogwarts or the Edwardian clock over a jeweller’s shop, where Old Father Time strikes the hours. Gloucester is big, but lots of major sights are close together in the middle of the city. One good way to reach them is to catch a bus to Oswald’s Priory Ruins from just outside the train station.
- Come out of Gloucester train station and you can see the Transport Hub ahead of you. It’s a new building, but there’s a sense of the city’s history even here: boards on the wall describe Gloucester’s foundation as a first-century Roman fortress, the remains of which are under your feet.
- Hourly bus 33 (from Bay H), bus 22 or bus 23 (both from Bay G) all run to St Oswald’s Priory. It’s just one stop, but quite a long walk otherwise beside a busy road. Hop off at the priory, which was founded by Alfred the Great’s daughter Aethlflaed around 900 AD.
- This area is packed with interesting buildings and most lanes lead to the cathedral. You could walk along Pitt Street past the Pelican Inn to reach the Infirmary Arches, all that remains of a monastic hospital. Turn right to Gloucester Cathedral and round it to find the entrance.
- Inside, there are Norman arches, hidden chapels, a marvellously ornate Quire. Don’t miss the fan-vaulted medieval Cloisters, which appear in three of the Harry Potter films. You can see the wall where the message in blood appears in the Chamber of Secrets and Lavatorium (monastic washing place) where Harry and Ron hide from a troll in the Philosopher’s Stone.
- Come out of the cathedral, diagonally turn left across College Green and right through an archway into bunting-decked College Court. Here is the little shop that inspired Beatrix Potter, when she wrote The Tailor of Gloucester. A free museum upstairs is dedicated to the charming story of an old tailor whose work is finished by mice. There’s even a replica of the waistcoat pictured in Potter’s tale, which took six talented embroiderers 400 hours to research and recreate.
- Turn left into pedestrianised Eastgate Street. Don’t miss Baker’s jewellery shop in Southgate Street with the clock and mechanical figures or the free Museum of Gloucester on Brunswick Street.
2. Take a walk on the waterside
The National Waterways Museum covers two floors of an old grain warehouse in the heart of Gloucester Docks, a busy Victorian shipping area. The museum runs seasonal boat trips on board Queen Boadicea II, a Dunkirk Little Ship, along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, once the world’s broadest and deepest. Inside the museum, you can hear stories from people who lived and worked on the water, see an old diving suit, ships’ figureheads, jugs painted with roses and castles in traditional canal-dwellers’ style and lots more.
- If you want to go straight to the museum, hop on frequent bus 10 at Station Road (Stop Q) or Eastgate Street (Stop W) and off at Spa Road, which is two minutes away. To see a little more of the canal, you can take bus 10 or bus 12 for a 1½ mile waterside stroll…
- Get off at Empire Way, walk back a few steps along the pavement, turn left into Hempsted Lane, over the swing bridge, and right along the towpath. Look out for waterbirds like swans, flying along the canal with wheezing wingbeats, gulls, ducks and moorhens. Watch cormorants diving into the murky water and drying their wide black wings in the sun. Although the canal runs straight between houses and factories, it provides a green corridor for wildlife.
- The towpath takes you a little away from the water, through some ivy-draped woods and around Monk Meadow Marina and then on to reach medieval Llanthony Secunda Priory, another amazing glimpse into the city’s history.
- Cross the Llanthony lift bridge to reach the National Waterways Museum. When you’ve finished looking round, you might like to have some lunch in the café and pick up the Canal and River Trust’s map of the docks to explore the area further.