Great West Way Travel Magazine
TIME FOR YOU
Whether you're keen on keeping fit or prefer taking it easy in a luxury spa, there are some excellent ways to add a wellness element to your Great West Way journey. So remember to take some time out for yourself along the route.
From keeping fit to taking it easy at a luxury spa, there are some excellent ways to add a wellness element to your Great West Way journey
THE ULTIMATE BATH SPA DAY
At the atmospheric Roman Baths you'll get to see the steamy Great Bath, the cold plunge pool and even have a nosy in the crumbling old changing rooms! You might also bump into a few Romans. The costumed characters who roam the complex, including a soldier and a travelling merchant, are based on real characters who frequented the Roman Baths around 2,000 years ago. Enjoy an elegant lunch (or afternoon tea) at The Pump Room, followed by a shot of mineral-rich water from the spa fountain. It may well be good for you, but as you'll soon discover - it definitely has a distinct taste! There are lots more lovely cafés and
restaurants around the city too, with some excellent vegan and vegetarian-friendly places such as The Green Rocket and Acorn. Take a daytime or twilight dip at Thermae Bath Spa, followed by one of their indulgent treatments. Watsu, perhaps, where a therapist stretches and guides your body through flowing movements in the warm water. Or the Roman Trilogy, which includes a salty body scrub, a soothing body massage and an invigorating facial.
Continue your pampering with an overnight stay at a luxury spa hotel. You might enjoy The Gainsborough Bath Spa, just a short stroll from Thermae Bath Spa, where you can experience the original thermal springs in natural thermal pools at their award-winning Spa Village, or try No.15 Great Pulteney Street and relax in their luxurious cedar wood hot tub and sauna.
FINDING WELLNESS IN BRISTOL
Bristol is a city that normally makes waves for its edgy art scene, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a wellness-themed break in the city. You might even find yourself embracing a totally new approach to exercise.
Try for example a stand-up paddleboard lesson with SUP Bristol on Bristol's Floating Harbour or a swim at Clifton's Victorian Lido. Later on, once you've refuelled at one of the many health-conscious, flexitarian-focused restaurants - No 1 Harbourside, Watershed Café & Bar, Thali Café to name a few - try something totally different.
There's a class for just about everything, from circus skills workshops to Beyoncé-inspired jazz dance. Not to mention all the yoga and holistic therapies that are hugely popular in Bristol. Wild Wolf's Yoga, Bristol City Yoga and Bristol Yoga Space are all fairly central.
A SPIRITUAL TRAIL
If the wellness you seek is spiritual, you'll find plenty of absorbing sacred spaces along the Great West Way. Early travellers between London and Bristol would surely have found comfort in these places, as every journey was a leap of faith that came with the threat of highwaymen and unforeseen hazards.
Some suggest Stonehenge was constructed as a place of healing, and that the smaller bluestones used were dragged all the way from south Wales because they were imbued with healing powers from nearby hot springs.
Or visit one of the almighty cathedrals on or near the Great West Way. There's the inimitable Bath Abbey, perfect for
Did you know? Although we've discovered a lot about what is in Bath's famous spring water 42 different minerals including sodium and magnesium to this day no one is quite sure where exactly it originates from.
pondering higher spiritual planes, as well as Bristol, Wells, Salisbury and Gloucester Cathedrals. Amid those, you'll also find churches, temples and mosques.
Or why not feel the power of England's pagan past with a lesser-known wellbeing experience at Stanton Drew? Pagan rituals are held on the four Fire Festivals usually on Saturday 11am for an hour. Park at the Druid's Arms, upper level, (by kind permission). You don't need to be a pagan to attend, and ritual dress is optional.
Find balance in body and mind at a Casterley Barn Wellness Retreat, Pewsey with their series of retreats focusing on selfcare and mindful living.
Danesfield House Hotel & Spa, Marlow-On-Thames offers three, five or seven-day retreats based around healthy eating, conscious movement, bodyweight exercises, personal training, relaxation and yoga.
In Hungerford you could buy a day pass to the Herongate Club and take part in an aerobics class before enjoying a fresh juice from their first-floor lounge café.
LUXURY SPA STAYS
If lounging about in a robe at a nice hotel, with a glass of bubbles in one hand and a magazine in the other sounds like just what you need then try an overnight stay (or three!) at one of the spa hotels along the Great West Way (see p78 for more). You might enjoy breaking up your journey with a stay at The Roseate Reading where they have recently unveilled a new spa.
If you really want to splash out, make like a princess (or prince) for a spa retreat at Cliveden House Hotel. As well as various enticing pools, flotation experiences and treatments, they offer a Garden Oasis Purifying Experience - a combination of body brushing, massage and reflexology that promises to tease you back to tip top condition.
Moored on the banks of Monkey Island in the historic village of Bray this first-of-its-kind floating luxury spa is the ultimate escape, while on the edge of the Cotswolds, a short detour from the route, both Cricklade House and Woolley Grange Hotel offer spa hotels in scenic locations too.