Midwinter in the Mendips, Avebury & Bath
Enjoy a pre-Christmas break in the beautiful historic city of Bath, sparkling with festive charm, and get off the beaten track into the magical prehistoric landscapes of Avebury, the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels.
- Two UNESCO World Heritage sites; Bath and Avebury.
- Expert guiding from Mark Corney and David Dawson.
- A private tour and dinner at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.
- A rare archaeological tour of the Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels.
- The festive charm of historic Bath, Glastonbury and Wells.
See the ‘Itinerary’ tab above for full itinerary details.
The city of Bath is the UK’s only UNESCO World Heritage city, and an iconic destination on the Great West Way, a wide strand of southern England full of history, hidden gems and Englishness. Our tour stays in the centre of Bath and also takes you into the surrounding countryside, getting off the beaten track to delve deep into the ancient past of Wiltshire and Somerset.
Bath is famous for its elegant Georgian architecture and excellently preserved Roman Baths, and its historic streets are especially charming in December, with one of England’s finest Christmas markets. Stay in the heart of the city at the 4-star Abbey Hotel, a charming boutique hotel with the city’s attractions on its doorstep.
Your tour director, Mark Corney, is a well-known British archaeologist who lives locally. He will guide you around Bath and is joined on the next day by David Dawson, the director of the Wiltshire Museum, to guide you around the ancient monuments and ceremonial landscape of the Avebury World Heritage site. David also gives you a private tour of the Wiltshire Museum, finishing with a private dinner in the museum itself.
The following day Mark will conduct a rare archaeological tour of the Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels, exploring the spectacular Cheddar Gorge, mysterious Glastonbury, and England’s smallest cathedral city at Wells.
Dates & Prices:
06 – 10 December 2020. Only £895. Last few places remaining.
06 – 10 December 2021. Only £895. Booking open.
Single supplement £185.
- Four nights hotel accommodation at the 4-star Abbey Hotel, Bath.
- All breakfasts and two evening meals.
- Daily excursions with all transport, entrances and expert guiding.
Meals: We have included two evening meals; one in the hotel on the first evening, and a privately arranged one at the Wiltshire Archaeology Museum on the third evening. Additional evening meals can be taken in the hotel but we leave these as optional so that you can make your own choices and perhaps enjoy some of the excellent local restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel.
All of Hidden History’s tours include a host of fully guided excursions and interesting talks to create an enriching travel experience. They also include some luxury and leisure by choosing great hotels and keeping the itineraries fairly relaxed and varied. For more on what to expect click on the box below…
This tour is not especially demanding and will present no problems for participants with a reasonable level of mobility and fitness. The sites are mostly on level ground with few steps. During the Avebury visit there is a half mile uphill walk to the West Kennet Long Barrow, and you will have the option of walking along the Avenue (800 m) if you wish. Please feel free to ask us for more details.
Your Tour Director
Mark Corney lives just outside Bath and has long taken a deep interest in this area of the country. He was a Senior Landscape Investigator for the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments for 20 years, heading the survey team based in Salisbury. He lectured in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol and was a regular contributor to the Channel 4 series ‘Time Team’ and BBC2 ‘Meet the Ancestors’. He is now a professional freelance archaeologist and a specialist in the later prehistoric and Roman periods.
What to expect
More UK Tours
Make your way to the beautiful historic city of Bath in southwest England. See the ‘Location’ and ‘Hotel’ tabs above for more details.
How To Book
Reservations & Enquiries: To reserve your place or enquire further simply enter your details in the form on this page, or call us on (UK) 0121 444 1854. There is no commitment and no payment at this stage; reservations are purely provisional until we have confirmed availability and proceeded with booking and payment.
Booking & Payment: Once you have checked availability and reserved your place, we will require your full details and a deposit of £100 per person to secure your booking. This can be done with a credit/debit card over the telephone (0121-444-1854) or by sending us a completed booking form and cheque. To print a booking form click here.
See our booking conditions for further details.
Click on the ‘Gallery’ tab above for more images.
- Departure Time06 December 2020 and 06 December 2021
Day 1: Arrivals.
Make your way to the beautiful, historic city of Bath. Check-in at the Abbey Hotel and meet your tour director, Mark Corney, for a welcome talk followed by an included 3-course evening meal.
Day 2: Bath City Tour
Home to Britain’s only natural hot springs, Bath has been a spa town since Roman times. The Roman baths are remarkably well preserved and still flow today with the natural spring water. They became very fashionable in Georgian times, making the city popular with 18th century high society and famed in literature and art. This is when Palladian architects transformed Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with elegant, neo-classical buildings in the honey coloured Bath stone.
The compact nature of the historic centre allows us to see it all on a walking tour in which your tour director will show you the some of the lesser-known Roman and Medieval remains, as well as the famous Georgian crescents, terraces and squares. We include entrance to the Roman Baths and the Abbey, and you will have time to enjoy the festive atmosphere, and perhaps do a spot of Christmas shopping.
Day 3: Avebury World Heritage and the Wiltshire Museum.
A short drive from Bath brings us to Avebury, an archaeological area which shares World Heritage status with Stonehenge some 20 miles to its south. Both Stonehenge and Avebury were in use at the same time, and each was at the centre of its own ceremonial landscape of monuments. Avebury’s stone circle is, in fact, much larger than Stonehenge and is Europe’s largest Neolithic stone circle, large enough to contain today’s village within it.
David Dawson and Mark Corney guide us through Avebury’s fascinating landscape of monuments, exploring the Sanctuary, West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, as well as the main circle. We also visit the site museum, and you might like to take a stroll along the Avenue.
We finish with a short drive to the historic market town of Devizes, where we visit the Wiltshire Museum. Wiltshire is one of England’s richest counties for archaeology, and the museum’s director, David Dawson, gives us a private tour of the collections followed by a private dinner in the museum.
Day 4: The Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels.
A short distance from Bath and the Great West Way lie the Mendip Hills, one of England’s most attractive landscapes. This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is characterised by spectacular gorges, rich grasslands, and hundreds of ancient monuments. Local archaeologist Mark Corney will take you on a fascinating scenic drive across the Mendips and down Cheddar Gorge. This is the largest gorge in the UK, over 400 feet deep and three miles long. The caves here contain evidence of Palaeolithic occupation, including Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton.
The gorge brings us down onto the flat Somerset Levels, a wetland area that has produced one of England’s best preserved prehistoric villages, and the world’s oldest timber trackway. We stop in Glastonbury, a town steeped in history and myth and brimming with midwinter magic. For long associated with the Isle of Avalon and the legend of the Holy Grail, this small town is also reputed to be the cradle of Christianity in England and the burial place of fabled King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. We make a final stop at nearby Wells, England’s smallest city. Its charming medieval streets include the splendid Gothic cathedral, one of the architectural highlights of Britain, and the fortified Bishop’s Palace, which has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years.
Day 5: Departure.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before checking-out and making your way home.
By car, the city of Bath is about 30 minutes from the M4 Motorway, and can be reached from London in about 2.5 hours. By train, the Abbey Hotel is a 5 minute walk from Bath Spa railway station. There is a regular, direct service to Bath Spa station from London Paddington and the journey takes around 1.5 hours. Journeys from Bristol Parkway take approximately 35 minutes and from Bristol Temple Meads around 10 minutes.
Use the + and – buttons on the map below to zoom in and out.
The Abbey Hotel is a charming, boutique 4-star hotel in the heart of Bath. It is only two minutes’ walk from the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, and five minutes walk from Bath Spa Railway Station. Public parking is available, 2 minutes walk from the hotel.
The building is part of a traditional Georgian terrace built by Bath’s famous Palladian architect, John Wood. It’s contemporary interior has been exquisitely renovated to evoke all the glamour and grace of the building’s extraordinary past. All 65 bedrooms feature sumptuously comfortable beds, luxurious toiletries, air conditioning and free WiFi.
The Abbey Hotel, North Parade, Bath, Somerset, BA1 1LF.