As with most cities that are a popular choice for a weekend city break, a longer stay, or even just a day trip, if you visit Bath and decide that you’d like to take a walking tour to get to know the city a little better, you won’t be stuck for choice.
There are themed walks (there’re a few different Jane Austen walking tours, one that looks at Mary Shelley’s time in Bath (on until 30th September 2016), a comedy walk, a ghost walk - the list goes on), walks available in different languages, walks aimed at families, and also more traditional walks which look at the city’s history as a whole. There are quite a few we could recommend, but this week we wanted to focus on what might be the longest running walking tours in Bath – those given by the Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Guides.
The Honorary Guides have been showing visitors around Bath for upwards of 80 years; the first mention of them is from 1934 when Alderman Sturge-Cotterell showed visitors around Bath on Boxing day and Easter morning. This continued each year, and by 1960 formal training sessions were given to new voluntary guides. By 1975 walks were given twice every day (except Christmas day). They have only been cancelled twice. Once in 1981 following extreme icy conditions, and once in 1996 when hurricane-force winds were uprooting trees! So the dedication of the guides is really incredible!
The other amazing thing about the Honorary Guides is that they do their daily tours simply for the love of teaching others about Bath. The walks are completely free and one of the guides will accept tips. To thank them for their service the Mayor and Charter Trustees have dinner with the guides (of whom there are around 65 in total) once a year and each guide is given a blue shield badge to denote that they are a Member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides.
The daily walks leave from the front of the Pump Rooms (near the Abbey) at 10:30am and 2pm (10:30am only on Saturdays). Each walk takes approximately two hours and covers two miles on a route that can be adjusted to avoid steps in order that the walk can be wheelchair-user friendly.
In additional to their central city walks the Guides have also created a new walk which explores the Pulteney Estate – including Great Pulteney Street and Sydney Gardens. Great Pulteney Street has had many famous visitors and residents in the past, and Sydney Gardens is the oldest park in Bath and was originally an eighteenth/nineteenth century pleasure garden belonging to Sydney Hotel (now the Holburne Museum).
Since Dukes Hotel is located on the corner of Great Pulteney Street, and just a minute’s stroll from Sydney Gardens, we are naturally delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about the area of Bath in which we live. As with the central city tours the Pulteney Estate tour lasts two hours and leaves from outside the Pump Rooms at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays (May to September).
If you’re coming to visit Bath, these are some great Bath walking tours to go on!