On Foot in Bath

by Andrew Swift

‘Truly great cities,’ writes Jonathan Glancey, ‘have always been a heady mix of the planned and the unplanned, the rational and the irrational, the dreamlike and the matter-of-fact.’ Nowhere is this more true than in Bath, which in the eighteenth century was transformed from a small provincial spa to one of the most fashionable and architecturally dazzling cities in the world. By the end of the eighteenth century, Bath was the tenth largest city in the country. In the early years of the following century, however, its star suddenly faded and growth came to a virtual standstill. For the past 200 years the city’s residents have struggled to come to terms with that extraordinary legacy. These fifteen walks, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Bath’s designation as a World Heritage Site, explore the resonances of that legacy today. As well as shedding new light on familiar landmarks, they go in search of hidden treasures in out-of-the way corners, before heading out to explore old villages absorbed by the city. Erudite, never patronising, witty and even sometimes, like his eighteenth-century namesake, acerbic and satirical, Dr Swift is the perfect companion to guide you round the World Heritage Site. Lavishly illustrated in full colour, with photographs, engravings and archive maps to guide you on, these walks range from gentle strolls around the city’s streets to challenging climbs through woods and along country lanes to visit spectacular buildings high in the hills above. Nine of the walks are step-free or have step-free alternatives indicated, and all start and end in the heart of the city.