By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Yes, Bath is stunningly beautiful and full of historic gems. But outdoorsy types will be just as satisfied in this bucolic part of the world. Get out of the city and you can explore caves, nature parks and a whole host of wholesome activities.
Parks and gardens
If you want to escape the city crowds, the National Trust’s Bath Skyline walk offers elevated views over Bath and the Mendips along six miles of way-marked footpaths, through woodland and pretty wildflower meadows. There are plenty of attractions to see along the way too. You could stop off along the way at the American Museum & Gardens, housed in the impressive Grade 1-listed Claverton Manor.
Stunning National Trust properties within easy reach of Bath include Prior Park Landscape Garden, Dyrham Park and Tyntesfield. Less than three miles from the city, Prior Park is an 18th-century Palladian house, built in Bath stone and designed by John Wood the Elder in the 1730s and 40s for entrepreneur and philanthropist Ralph Allen.
Its landscaped gardens and beautiful Palladian bridge are the main draw. Set in a sweeping valley, the gardens incorporate a natural play area, where children can let off steam climbing trees, balancing on logs and building dens.
Slightly further afield in South Gloucestershire, Dyrham Park is a baroque 17th-century country house set in an ancient deer park, about nine miles from Bath. There’s plenty to keep families occupied here too, particularly during the school holidays.
Stunning National Trust properties within easy reach of Bath include Prior Park Landscape Garden, Dyrham Park and Tyntesfield
Tyntesfield is an ornate Victorian Gothic Revival house with extensive gardens and parkland. The garden and estate balance faded beauty and function with an abundance of nature. The flower-filled terraces, empty lake, extensive woodland and productive kitchen garden are great fun to explore.
Caves and cliffs
It’s well worth taking a trip to spectacular Cheddar Gorge, which is just over 20 miles away from central Bath. Britain’s highest inland limestone gorge incorporates dramatic 450 ft cliffs and stalactite caverns, offering superb opportunities for rock climbing and caving.
While you’re exploring this world-famous Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, look out for herds of wild goats clinging precariously to tiny rock ridges, and visit Gough’s Cave, the burial place of 10,000-year-old ‘Cheddar Man’, once home to hunter-gatherers.
Britain’s highest inland limestone gorge incorporates dramatic 450 ft cliffs and stalactite caverns, offering superb opportunities for rock climbing and caving.
About 20 minutes’ drive from Cheddar, Wookey Hole Caves is another of the region’s favourite family attractions. It is home to the UK’s largest cave system, which visitors can explore. These impressive limestone caves have been used by humans for around 45,000 years, demonstrated by the discovery of tools from the Palaeolithic period, along with fossilised animal remains.
Family days out
If you’ve animal loving kids in tow, the Bath area has some excellent, family-friendly attractions. A trip to Bath City Farm, where you can meet the many friendly animals, won’t cost you a penny. Some seven miles from Bath, Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park is a 90-acre site offering a huge range of attractions, including animal-handling sessions and wildlife enclosures.
If you’re looking for a full day of fun, Longleat packs in a whole host of wild attractions. Sign up for the Safari Drive-through and you can brave Lion Country, Tiger Territory, the Big Game Park and Cheetah Kingdom. Or you could choose to hop out of your vehicle for a walking safari, where you can get up close to ring-tailed lemurs and giraffes.
If you get high on adrenalin, there are track experience days available at Castle Combe Circuit. Less than 20 miles away from Bath, this circuit opened just 18 months after Silverstone, in the summer of 1950 – making it one of the longest-established circuits in the UK. A Rally Drive Experience Day will really get your blood pumping, and there are special kids karting sessions for children aged 10 to 15.
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