Car-free adventures aroundBathSomerset

Natural hot springs have been luring travellers to Bath for two millennia. Visitors can still see the famous Roman bath with the remains of a huge temple complex, still fed by a steady flow of geo-thermally heated water. You can bathe in the warm mineral water at the neighbouring Thermae Spa, enjoying views across the city from a rooftop pool - and for twice as long if you come by train (see 7 below). Besides some of the world's best preserved Roman remains, Bath boasts glorious Georgian architecture dating from its 18th century incarnation as a fashionable resort. Enjoy boat trips, waterside walks, museums, gardens, parks and panoramas. And reach them all without a car.

  1. 4. Skyline Walk

    A six mile walk along the hills near the city gives visitors some of the best views across Bath. The National Trust’s leaflet has directions from Bath Abbey or you can catch the U1 bus from the city centre to Cleveland Walk on Bathwick Hill.

    • Turn left out of Bath Spa railway station to find the bus station next door. The U1 leaves from the far side of Dorchester Street, from stop Bn.
    • The bus makes a little scenic circuit through the centre of town before crossing North Parade and heading up to Bathwick.
    • Among the many landmarks on the walk are the Sham Castle, Bathampton Down and Rainbow Wood Fields above Prior Park.
    • The American Museum is also close to the route and offers a free hot drink and cookie at their cafe for walkers on the Skyline Walk, when they buy a ticket for the museum.
  1. 5. Prior Park

    Prior Park’s 18th-century landscape garden is a gem even in beautiful Bath, where it has so much scenic competition. An 18th-century mansion stands at the top of a steep slope above a lake and Palladian bridge. Ralph Allen, pioneer of the UK postal system, wanted to showcase Bath stone as a building material. The house is now a private school, but the park, designed by Capability Brown, was influential in their sweeping majesty.

    • To reach Prior Park from the Skyline Walk, go through the stone pillars and continue along the path with panoramic views down the valley on the left. Turn left through the kissing gate on the left after the pond and follow the grass path down through two fields.
    • Bus 2 from Bath Bus Station leaves every 20 minutes and stops outside the entrance to Prior Park on Ralph Allen Drive.
    • Walk past the remains of the grotto, along the Serpentine Lake and into the sloping woods, where you can have a cream tea outside the Tea Shed. In spring the paths, bordered by thick carpets of white-flowered wild garlic, are especially beautiful. The hawthorn and chestnut trees are fretted with blossom and the lake is fringed with yellow flags.
    • Don’t miss the incredible views from the top of the estate – “a noble seat which sees all Bath”, one contemporary visitor called it. The views are still breathtakingly beautiful and definitely best enjoyed by bus or on foot since Prior Park has no dedicated parking.
  1. 6. Have a bus adventure

    The bus to Prior Park takes just five minutes, but there’s a great choice of routes for a longer journey into the hilly Somerset countryside. Buses from Bath’s bus station head regularly in all directions; here are a couple of bus rides that are richly rewarding.

    • The Bath Soft Cheese Company in Kelston is an organic dairy farm, making cheeses from their own cows’ milk, like award-winning “Wyfe of Bath”, which you can buy or sample in the on-site café.
    • Nearby is Kelston’s Old Crown gastropub, serving tasty small plates (spiced lamb chipolatas, smoked trout, roasted courgette). To get there, First buses 19 and 37 to Kelston leave every half an hour from Bath bus station.
    • A short, but strenuous walk up onto the Cotswold Way brings great views and an appetite. From outside the Old Crown follow the main road past the interesting Italianate house with a tower. Fork left at a footpath sign; keep heading uphill and left at the farmhouse to find the Cotswold Way, which eventually leads to a viewpoint called Prospect Stile near Bath Racecourse and an ancient hillfort.
    • The well-marked, undulating Cotswold Way begins in gold-stoned Chipping Campden and reaches its literal highpoint, 1000 feet above sea level, on sheep-dotted Cleeve Hill, just outside Cheltenham. The hundred-mile route celebrates the hills’ millennial histories, passing a Neolithic long barrow at Belas Knap or the ruined, 13th-century monastery of Hailes Abbey, before ending in Bath.
    • Heading south instead, the Discover D2 bus leads through wooded lanes and pretty villages, past half-timbered inns and ancient priories, to the quirky town of Frome, packed with cobbled lanes and vintage clothes shops. Look out for our future guide to car-free Frome.
  1. 7. Relax for longer in the Spa

    A car-free break doesn’t have to be all muddy boots and sore feet or bus rides through the countryside. You can bathe like a Roman in the warm, mineral waters of Bath’s luxurious Thermae spa, with its outdoor, rooftop pool, eucalyptus-scented steam rooms and giant, curving jacuzzis. (Thanks to Thermae Bath Spa for the photo).

    • On weekdays, if you can show a valid train ticket, you get four hours for the usual price of two (£36). To get your full four hours, you’ll want to arrive by around 5pm – the spa closes at 9.30pm and is just a 10 minute walk from Bath Spa railway station.
    • Next door are the famous Roman Baths, some of the world’s best preserved Roman ruins. They are also open every day – and late on summer evenings. They offer joint tickets with the spa or with the Fashion Museum and Art Gallery, which are all in easy walking distance from each other.
    • Midweek evenings are probably your best chance for a peaceful starlit swim in the spa – a spectacular place to relax as the floodlit turrets of Bath Abbey and neo-gothic spire of St John’s loom out of the thermal mists.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount