Riding a hot air balloon over Bath and its surrounding landscape offers unique opportunities that are seldom offered around the world. From the spectacle of historical sites that date back to when the Ancient Romans laid a claim to our lands to picturesque rural villages, Bath – and the countryside it nestles in – has much to offer those on a balloon flight.
However, it’s also ideal for adventures on foot, so when you disembark from your balloon’s passenger basket, you’ll find much to see and do within the city.
In the next sections, we’ll explore how you can get the most from your big day out in Bath, from important tips to remember on your balloon ride to the unmissable experiences to keep an eye out for. Read on to get ready for your journey.
When it comes to ballooning in Bath, picking clothes that are comfortable and practical is a must. Temperature wise, the heights balloons fly at are similar to the ground, so dressing as you would for a day in the park is a good guide. While balloons travel with the breeze, avoiding the chills and never fly in poor weather, packing an extra layer is always advisable to combat the notoriously unpredictable British weather.
Trousers are easier for ladies than skirts, especially when it comes to entering the basket, and sensible shoes are a smart move. Balloons typically land in fields, making a wellies and trainers favoured footwear for balloonists. If you want to take a tour of the city, walking shoes will ensure that sore feet don’t spoil your adventures. Finally, wearing a pair of shades will make sure the glare of the sun doesn’t impact your enjoyment of the amazing vistas offered from a balloon.
Finally, while you won’t need to wear a face mask in the hot air balloon if you don’t wish to, one must currently be worn within the vehicles that take you to launch sites and from landing areas, so pack one for the ride.
Bath offers spectacular aerial views of both man-made masterpieces and areas of natural beauty. For a close look at the panoramic vistas, a pair of binoculars is a worthwhile option to have, and to capture some of the astonishing scenery, a camera is recommended too – just make sure to pack spare memory cards, film or batteries, depending on your device, so you can take plenty of pictures.
From the moment you launch in a hot air balloon in Bath, you’ll be hit with wonderous sights, giving you a clear idea why the city has become renowned for its flights. Rising up from the green and grand Victoria Park, you’ll see the stately Georgian elegance of the Royal Crescent. The celebrated city is home to an abundance of renowned architectural achievements, from the majestic Bath Abbey to the Bath Assembly Rooms crafted from the area’s sought-after “Bath Stone”.
Historical sites that date back to Ancient Rome can also be glimpsed from your lofty perch in a balloon’s passenger basket, such as the Grand Pump Room and Roman Baths, which gave the city its name. Well-regarded for its dedication to the arts, Bath is also home to the Theatre Royale. The Theatres’ Trust described the Grade II listed building that was constructed in 1805 as:
“One of the most important surviving examples of Georgian theatre architecture.”
There are also more modern sights to behold from a balloon as you drift over the city. Major developments in Bath since 2000 have included the SouthGate shopping centre, the Thermae Bath Spa and the Western Riverside residential project built on the site of the former factory of the engineering company Stothert & Pitt.
Beyond the city walls, which are depicted on Bath’s coat of arms, hot air balloons fly over the idyllic countryside of Somerset and Wiltshire. Based in the beautiful Avon Valley, Bath has a wide selection of natural wonders to witness, from rolling, verdant fields and meadows to limestone hills, ponds and weirs inhabited by local wildlife. Balloons are silent, avoiding any disruption to the daily habits of these creatures, allowing you to enjoy their antics discreetly.
Picture-perfect English villages can also be seen dotted along the landscape as you sail by on your balloon ride. Keep an eye out for Lacock, Bradford-on-Avon and the Cotswolds parish Castle Coombe on your travels.
As with other places around the world, Bath’s hot air balloon rides launch at dawn and dusk, when the air temperatures, wind speeds and other flying conditions are best suited to ballooning. This means that you can take a tour of the city either after or before your balloon flight. You’ll find Bathonians are welcoming people and are keen to play hosts to city visitors.
Those keen on retail therapy will find the Corridor Arcade and SouthGate stuffed with shops, while others who enjoy art and history will discover a wealth of options, like Victoria Art Gallery and the Bath Museum of Architecture. Lovers of literature will be able to learn more about author Jane Austen, who lived within the city during the 19th century, while people with a passion for greenspace will find Bath’s parks second-to-none.
From traditional pubs to quirky and cool bars, there are plenty of places to celebrate your first flight around the city, and those seeking a bite to eat won’t be disappointed. Bath’s oldest house, Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House, serves the famous Sally Lunn bun, while the Ivy Bath Brasserie offers sophisticated yet relaxed dining all day. Don’t forget to drop by some of the places you saw from the sky for a fresh perspective, whether it’s the Roman Baths or Pulteney Bridge.
Now you know what to wear, what to look out for and where to enjoy your post or pre-flight celebrations, you’re all set to book your balloon ride over Bath and experience a day you’ll never forget.