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Everything you need to know about ballooning in Bath

19/12/2015 Jo Bailey Hot Air Balloon Rides

The city of Bath is certainly a beautiful place, located in the county of Somerset, in the South West of England. It is perhaps best known for its Roman baths and for being nestled in the valley of the River Avon. A world Heritage Site since 1987, it is also one of the most spectacular places to explore by hot air balloon.

Bath’s history

Bath has a long history of human activity, dating as far back as the Mesolithic period when hills in the Bathampton Down area, amongst others, were home to small settlements.

Later, it is thought that Bathampton Camp may have been home to an Iron Age hill fort, due to the discovery of several Bronze Age barrows, which were opened in the 18th Century.

Of course, the most interesting period in the history of Bath is largely thought to the Roman period, to which the city owes a debt of gratitude for leaving it with its much-lauded Roman baths. According to archaeological evidence found in the city, the site upon which the famous Roman baths sit could once have been home to a shrine dedicated to the goddess Sulis, which is why Bath was known as Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sulis) back in Roman times.

Temple and bathing

In 60-70AD, a temple was built in Bath, along with a bathing complex, which was developed upon for the following 300 years. Gradually, it became one of the most impressive of its kind in the known world at the time.

In the 2nd Century, the water spring was enclosed in a wooden structure that was also home to a hot bath, warm bath and cold bath.

The absolute best way to explore what is left of these, and many of Bath’s other Roman structures, is via a hot air balloon, which will give you a panoramic bird’s eye view of points of interest such as the stunning Roman Baths and the many Roman remains dotted about the county, which can sometimes be difficult to fathom when you are looking at them from the ground.

It’s also highly advisable that you should take the time to visit the Roman baths on foot when you are done with your hot air balloon ride, as not only are the waters fantastic, but there is also a great museum that houses many intriguing remnants from Bath’s Roman past.

A flight over Bathampton Down is also an enjoyable way to spend some time exploring the history of the area. In particular, you should keep your eyes peeled for evidence of a long gone Roman villa and Roman era barrows, as well as taking time to marvel in the wonders of nature you will undoubtedly see as you fly over the ancient and historically significant area.

Bath’s architecture

Given its Roman history, it’s not surprising that many of the most interesting pieces of architecture in the city are those that date back to Roman times. However, there are lots of delightful pieces of architecture in the area, which largely remain intact and date from later periods in time.

One of the most impressive pieces of architecture in Bath, for example, is the Circus – a building made up of three separate long curved terraces, which were designed by the elder John Wood, and which are laid out in such a way as to form a circular space that could be used as a theatre or community space for plays and competitions. Although this structure was built in 1754, it is clear that it took its inspiration from the Colosseum in Rome and the city’s Roman past, and as impressive as the structure is from the ground, you can only really appreciate its design and intricacy from above, preferably as you float by on a relaxing hot air balloon ride.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is undoubtedly one of the finest churches in the country. Founded in the 7th Century and built in the 10th, the church was rebuilt in both the 12th and 16th Centuries, and as such, it is one of the finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the world.

The great thing about viewing this structure from a hot air balloon is the fact that you are able to see design features, such as its two-stage centre tower and its fifty-two impressive windows, much more closely than you could ever imagine from the ground, enabling the building to really reveal itself to you for the first time.

Nature in Bath

Of course, there is much more to Bath than just its buildings; the city is home to some of the most beautiful natural sites in the country too.

For one thing, the city is located in the Avon Valley, which is an area of immense beauty thanks to its wonderful limestone hills, sweeping landscapes and of course the River Avon itself.

The river has created active swamps, ponds, and weirs that are teeming with local wildlife. Viewed from an unobtrusive hot air balloons, you can see creatures acting naturally without spooking them.

Kensington Meadows

Lastly, Kensington Meadows is a nature reserve located in Bath, close to the River Avon. It’s made up of dense woodland and open meadows, which will reveal its secrets, including flora and fauna you’re unlikely to see on foot, when you fly over at any time of the day, and at any time of the year. We think it’s particularly delightful in the springtime though, when flowers are blooming, birds are hatching and the weather is getting more pleasant.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Bath, and a hot air balloon ride through the southern skies is the perfect way to explore them in a new and exciting way.

Whether you’re new to Bath, a seasoned visitor or a lifetime resident, there’s no doubt that you will see many of the city’s gems in a whole new, and frequently more impressive, light.

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