A balloon ride over Bath is every inch a mystery, as you never know what you will see.
Steering is very limited in a hot air balloon. The pilot can go up or down, but mainly the direction of flight is determined by the wind direction. This is why a hot air balloon ride is so unpredictable.
Most journeys by car, train, boat or plane have a destination, but with hot air balloons, there’s a lot more serendipity. The joy of a hot air balloon ride is the journey – it’s not important where you land.
Things that you may or may not see on your flight are:
If you start your balloon flight from Victoria Park in Bath centre, then you are bound to see a great deal of the city. Next to Victoria Park is the Royal Crescents which is a half-eclipse of houses built by John Wood the Younger between 1767 and 1775. It is a fine example of Georgian architecture.
Another highlight of the flight is the overhead view of the Assembly Rooms, which were restored in the 1950s and 1960s after being damaged during World War II.
An attraction you are likely to see is the Thermal Bath Spa. The open air rooftop pool is filled with natural spa water.
A fine example of Bath architecture is the Holburne Museum, which features a glass and ceramic extension that caused some controversy when it was built as not everyone thought it was in keeping with the classical architecture of the main building.
Prior Park Landscape Gardens features a mansion and the Palladian Bridge that crosses over a lake. Seeing the park from the air provides an unusual perspective on this impressive space.
If the wind takes the hot air balloon in a westerly direction, you will see some interesting sites.
Newton St. Loe is a picturesque village surrounded by arable farming land, and contains a Site of Special Scientific Interest next to the River Avon. It is special because it contains the only place to find fossiliferous Pleistocene gravels in the area.
Carrs Woodland between Newton St Loe and Twerton is a nature reserve, while Corston is a typical small Somerset village with a few houses, farms, a parish church and a pub, surrounded by farmland.
If your flight takes you further west, you will see the Mendip Hills, designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The area has stunning views of limestone hills, spectacular gorges and rocks. The Mendips also feature grassland where wildflowers grow. The region is the home of a large variety of animals, and though there is no guarantee that you will see any of them when you fly over, it’s worth keeping a lookout.
The Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the UK and also contains caves in which Paleolithic man lived 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.
One of the first villages you will see if you travel east of Bath is Bathampton. The River Avon curves around the village.
Nearby is Claverton, which is a short distance from the University of Bath. With a population of just 116, it is one of the smaller villages near Bath. It features a pumping station that sends water from the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal. Another feature of the village is the American Museum, which is in a house built in 1820. Claverton is a conservation area because of its historical and architectural significance.
Six miles from Bath is Melksham, a small town on the River Avon. The town contains a spa founded in 1815. There are six large three-storey houses where visitors stayed when they came to drink the natural spa waters. The spa was not very successful, as it was in competition with Bath’s Spa which attracted more visitors. To the north east of Melksham is Melksham Forest.
If you are lucky, your hot air balloon flight could take you over Avebury, the site of a Neolithic monument that features three stone circles, one of which is the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. The site was constructed in the third century BC.
To the North West of Bath is Bristol, famous for its Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge.
Castle Combs is named after its 12th-Century castle. What was once Castle Combe RAF station is now a motor racing circuit. The circuit hosts both motor bike and car races. On non-race days, a school teaches people to drive high-performance cars around the track.
Wick is a picturesque South Gloucestershire village. The River Boyd runs through Wick and the nearby Golden Valley is a great pace for walking, bird watching and horse riding. Wick Quarry is an operating site that also attracts many species of birds.
Bradford on Avon is visited by many tourists who come to admire its historic buildings and the canal. The town was founded in Roman times. In the 17th-Century, many buildings were added to house the workers and owners in Bradford’s textile businesses.
Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, situated on the River Biss. It’s a market town and once had a castle, although this is longer standing. Trowbridge was a centre for the cloth industry, and several mills are still visible in the town, though now they are no longer used for the making of cloth. The town has six Grade I listed buildings, including St. James Church.
For those with an interest in the paranormal, Warminster is famous for its UFO sightings. From 1964 onwards there have been several reports of people seeing strange objects in the sky. It is highly unlikely that you will see a UFO when flying in a hot air balloon over Warminster, but you never know!
These are just some of the possible highlights of a ride taking off from Bath. To book your hot air balloon mystery tour, get in touch with us at Bailey Balloons.