EFOG Spring Clean Up in Bath, 2010

Over the weekend of 13/14th February 2010, 19 members of the EFOG went to Bath for the weekend on our Spring getaway.  Staying in the very convivial Lansdown Grove Hotel, the group had a tourist day on the Saturday and got down to the serious business of walking on the Sunday.

With the weather being unpredictable as it has been this last few weeks, most of the EFOGs decided to join a guided tour of Bath. Who says that nothing is free!!  This tour was funded, I guess, by the local authority.

With added non-Effogers, we were a large group (about 25-30)  and our guide Cheryl was a gem; she was enthusiastic and had a great sense of humour, you could always hear what she said and she held all our attentions for whole 2+ hours that we were with her.

The origins of the bubbling mud and springs which made Bath famous can be traced back to 863 BC to Bladud the son of King Hudibras. Bladud had the misfortune of contacting virulent leprosy and was banished from court to wandering with pigs in the countryside to survive. He discovered that the condition of the pig’s skin improved with wallowing in the mud and waters and wondered then if his own problem would also improve. The rest is history - he recovered and returned to court and on the death of his father become King.

The Romans arrived in 43 A.D. and were similarly impressed with the healing powers of the waters and amongst many things built the famous spa baths which in part are still standing to date.

Bath always remained an important place of business and pleasure and in the Georgian period the town was transformed on a grand scale.  Richard ‘Beau’ Nash set about improving the seedy social habits of the upper classes of the time and improving the lot of the poor and needy.  John Wood, an architect, and in later years his son, designed the famous Royal Crescent and The Circus, the Assembly Rooms and many other buildings which still stand and bear witness to the skills of this well respected man.

Pulteney Bridge, BathPulteney Bridge, Bath

Many famous people have lived in the Royal Crescent and The Circus: The Duke of York, Sir Isaac Pitman (who invented shorthand), William Pitt the elder, the artist Gainsborough, David Livingstone and Clive of India to name just a few.

After being hit with such a massive input of historical facts and figures we were all understandably thirsty and in need of the local waters and refreshments, in particular Sally Lunn’s Bath buns, which we all pursued with animated enthusiasm.

As a side trip, a couple of the Efoggers also made it to Bristol, about 12 miles down river with a particular destination in mind – the waterfront with its converted warehouses and the restored SS Great Britain.  An iron-hulled steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in 1843, the Great Britain also had six masts, and was as fast under sail as the Cutty Sark.  The Great Britain sailed around the world 32 times and continued sailing until 1886.  She was finally abandoned in 1937 off of the coast of the Falkland Islands.  In 1970, the historic ship was raised, towed back to Bristol and has now been restored as an impressive museum which the visitor can go in, round, and under!

After all of that history, Sunday was for the serious business of walking.  The group took the train to the pretty town of Burham on Avon, about 9 miles outside of Bath, and after a brief look around the town’s historic attractions and a refreshment stop at The Bridge Victorian tea room,  walked back to town along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal.  The canal was built by John Rennie and opened in 1723.  To solve the problem of the change in gradient along this section, the canal was built criss-crossing the River Avon using two dramatic aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas.  It’s a very popular spot for both walkers and cyclists – for the very keen you can walk the entire way to London using the canal path and other linking waterway paths, around 250 miles!   Another trip for EFOG perhaps!

After a wash and brush up, we reconvened at the dining table for a last get together before dispersing the next morning by bus, train and car back to London and parts surrounding.  Many thanks to Ken and Susan for their organisation of another very enjoyable weekend.

Val and Sue