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    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Bath is the perfect city to see in a weekend; intimate, but packed full of amazing history and nightlife. The incredible North Somerset countryside also offers excellent cycling and walking routes. At only two hours from London, it’s the perfect spot for a Dirty Weekend!

    There is also something magical about the Ancient Roman city during the festive period that makes now the best time to go. From the Christmas market surrounding the Abbey, to the quaintly decorated Georgian streets; Bath at this time of year will have you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

    1. Visit Bath Christmas market

    Bath Christmas Market is the largest in southern England with over 170 wooden ‘chalet’ stalls selling all kinds of craft gifts, over 80% of which are hand made by local traders. An afternoon in the market is an afternoon well spent; with the smell of mulled wine, fresh mince pies, and the sounds of carol singers to accompany you. And if you do need a little break from shopping, pop into the Apres Ski bar (new this year), and just drink in the atmosphere. The stalls surround the Abbey and the Spa in the centre of the city, so there aren’t many more spectacular locations for a Christmas Market. More info — http://www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk/

    2. Cycle to Cheddar Gorge

    The incredible Cheddar Gogre cycle — not as daunting as it looks!

    Cheddar Gorge is one of the South West’s most beautiful sights, and is something of a pilgrimage for cyclists. Nestled in the Mendip Hills (itself an outstanding area of natural beauty), it is Britain’s biggest gorge, boasting cliffs of 450 feet. The road that runs through the gorge is an incredible cycle; it’s hilly and challenging, but the beautiful landscape will keep you going. We recommend storing your bikes at the visitors centre and taking a walk around — there’s loads to see and do, and a nice little cafe for a spot of lunch before the ride back. It’s a 25 mile cycle south west from Bath, so doable on an active weekend away; the outstanding landscape is well worth the effort! More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    3. Hike the Bath Skyline walk

    Bath is a great city to hike around, with incredible hills, history and scenery right on your doorstep. It’s compact size means that as soon as you get out of the centre, you’re basically in the countryside! The Skyline walk starts just south of the city on Bathwick Hill and heads out in a 6 mile loop over stile and through meadow, offering some stunning views of the city along the way. The route takes in an iron age fort and an 18th Century castle, with plenty of wildlife along the way. It is a challenging walk, with some steep hills, but it’s definitely worth it for the views. The route ends where it began, so you can wander back into the city for a well deserved drink. More info — Bath Skyline Walk

    4. Climb at Cheddar Gorge

    We really can’t recommend Cheddar Gorge highly enough! It offers so much to the active weekender, and is so close to Bath, you really can get the best of both a relaxing city break and an extreme weekend! If you’re not a cyclist, then Cheddar Gorge is a short drive from Bath with free parking at the visitors centre. Once there, you can hike the limestone cliff path, complete with incredible views of Somerset, or book yourself onto a rock climbing excursion. There are different level classes, so complete beginners can be shown the ropes, and more experienced climbers can tackle some of the gorge’s tougher climbs . If you’re planning a Christmas trip to Bath, then aim for the 4th December: Cheddar Gorge’s festive night! Carol singers and festive food and wine; all set in the beautiful surrounds of the gorge. More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    5. Visit the Spa’s, old and new

    Thermae Spa rooftop pool, complete with Abbey view!

    No trip to Bath is complete without visiting the Roman and Thermae spas. One ancient; one ultra-modern, and both incredible experiences. Pick up aSpas Ancient and Modern pass and get entry into both spas, with lunch or champagne tea in the Pump Room. The Roman Baths are one of the most famous historical sites in Northern Europe, and the free audio guides make the tour incredibly interactive. You can even listen to commentary from Bill Bryson, the American best-seller, who lived in bath for a while. From the ancient history of Roman Britain, you move seamlessly onto the very 21st Century modern Thermae Spa. It is the country’s only naturally warm spa, and a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon, especially if you’ve cycled or hiked the day before. They have taken the ancient spa waters, the very same that the Romans bathed in nearly 2000 years ago, and housed it in a high-tech setting complete with modern architecture. So come to Bath, and do like the Romans do — spend an afternoon in the Minerva Bath, indulging in one of the spa treatments, or just relaxing in the roof top pool. When in Rome… http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/

    The Top 5 ‘New’ Cycling Cafes in the UK

    The well documented rise of cycling has lead to many positives; the expansion of the UK cycling network, an active online community, and a national team we can finally be proud of. Another very welcome institution on the rise is the ‘cycling cafe’.

    For many years cycling cafes were the dwelling of hirsute East Londoners, trading couriering war stories and swapping rare Japanese fixie parts. However, as the sport of cycling has become more mainstream, thanks largely to Tour de France victories and the media coverage that affords, a new crop of cycling cafes have emerged. This new breed are doing their bit to grow the sport by turning on new cyclists with advice, camaraderie and excellent coffee!

    1. The Velo House, Tunbridge Wells — http://www.thevelohouse.com/

    Opening in 2014, The Velo House quickly became the focal point of the burgeoning North Kent cycle scene. Ollie and the team are cyclists first and foremost, and they have kept that in mind with their refuel, reduce and reward mantra. They serve Coffee Officina, Tea Pigs and a wide variety of beers and wine, alongside a delicious, healthy menu. Upstairs the shop sells an eclectic mix of cool gear, and the workshop team in the back can fix, shine and tune your bike whilst you wait. Weekly club rides and regular events are also on offer to feed your cycling habit.

    2. Rapha Cafe, Manchester — http://pages.rapha.cc/clubs/manchester

    The name Rapha is now synonymous with high end, high quality cycling kit, so it’s no wonder that their first cafe offering in 2012, in central London, was a huge success. So much so that the brand have opened another ‘cycle club’ in Manchester, and it’s doing just as well. Many have written off the cafes as a ‘gallery’ to show off Rapha products, but it’s hard to argue with the style and atmosphere they’ve created. Alongside events, exhibitions and film screenings, there are also organised weekend club rides out to Cheshire and the Peak District. If you’re lucky, you might even bump into a Team Sky rider or two!

    3. Dandy Horse, Norwich — http://www.dandy-horse.co.uk/

    Norwich may be (in)famous for Alan Partridge and Delia Smith, but it has an exciting and emerging cycling culture to rival anywhere, and an excellent cycling cafe in Dandy Horse. They sell excellent coffee which changes daily, alongside fresh cakes and sandwiches. The workshop is staffed with over 10 years of mechanical and wheel building experience, so your beloved steed will be in good hands. What Dandy Horse pride themselves on, however, is their custom builds and restorations. Take in your frame (or pick one of theirs) and have them build your dream bike. Grab a coffee and drool over the beautiful selection; you won’t be disappointed.

    4. Pedalling Squares, Newcastle Upon Tyne -http://www.pedallingsquarescafe.com/

    Pedalling Squares is so much more than a cycling cafe! An event space, a retro jersey emporium and a ‘Supper Club’; there’s always something going on at The Old Brassworks. They brew locally sourced ground coffee and ‘feed stations’ offer ‘cycling legend’ themed panini’s (we had Greg Lemond). The Workshop is run by Vieri Velo, the nicest bike blokes in the North East! They’ll fix your bike, fit parts you’ve brought in for free, and even buy you a coffee (if you’re extra polite).

    5. Maison Du Velo, Reigate — http://www.maisonduvelo.cc/

    Maison Du Velo is the perfect pre or post ride stop if you’re out in either the Surrey Hills or the North Downs. This ultra-modern cafe and shop has a gallery feel to it, with the bikes and kit very much ‘on display’. They are passionate about the choice brands they stock (and the coffee they serve), and have complete confidence in their performance ability. The workshop team offer a range of services and comprehensive Bike Fit options to make sure that your setup is on point. Shop rides are weekly and vary by ability, so everyone can get involved.

    What Your Weekend Bag Says About You

    Your weekend bag says a lot about the type of person you are. Whether you’re jetting off to the latest European destination, or climbing in North Wales, the bag you carry is more important than you know.

    1. Sandqvist Waxed Canvas Weekend Bag

    Simple, well made, beautiful and classic. You’re not reinventing the wheel; you’re just making the wheel look good, go further and last longer. You like a cool brand with a cool story, and you like your things to last.. A weekend away with you will consist of the cool side of town, boutique coffee, craft beer and beards.

    2. North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

    You’re built to last and you love getting your hands (and your bag) dirty. You’re an adventurer; equally comfortable in a boutique hotel or a tent, and ready for anything. You like to wear your luggage on your back, just in case you need to break into a spontaneous run/climb/commando roll. A weekend away with you will most likely consist of sleeping somewhere unusual, getting dirty, and loving it!

    3. Herschel Duffle Bag

    You’re weekend is about more than your bag. However, you’re not just going to carry around any old thing; You’ve found  a cool brand that makes great bags. the fact that it doesn’t cost the earth is a bonus. A weekend away with you consists of a warehouse rave and watching the sun come up.

    4. Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag

    Stylish and practical; you know your brands, but you aren’t trying to make a statement - you’ve got too much to organise to worry about that!  A weekend away with you will consist of style, grace and a precisely organised schedule.

    5. Classic Leather Mulberry Bag 

    You are making a statement! Everything you do is some sort of statement; only the finest will do. You know what you want, and you always get it. A weekend away with you will consist of fine dining, cocktail parties and some sort of yacht.



    The 6 Best Sportives To Get You Off The Couch This Autumn

    If you’ve read a newspaper, or turned on the TV recently, you’ll know that summer is over. The worst winter on record is on the way, and we’re all going to be covered in snow for the next 6 months. Might as well pack the bike and running shoes away then, right? Wrong! Now is the time to stick two fingers up to the weather man, defy all the nay-sayers and book yourself into an event. Summer might well be over, but it’s going to be a glorious autumn, and now is the time to really push yourself!

    1. Air Ambulance Double 100 Cycle Challenge

    When: 27 September 2015
    Where: Kent Air Ambulance Trust, TN12 9QJ.
    How much: £15 - £35

    Make the most of the last of the ‘late summer’ weekends with this Kent sportive – with the added bonus that it’s all for a good cause! The routes (100m or 100km, you can decide on the day depending on how you feel) take in the North and South Downs, some tough climbs and some spectacular descents. There are 2 start points; either Redhill in Surrey or Marden in Kent, both easily accessible from London by train and car (free parking at both sites). Why not combine with a weekend away in nearby Tunbridge Wells, a beautiful and relaxing Georgian retreat. Check out our guide here – Dirty Weekend in Tunbridge Wells.

    2. Wiggle Peak District Punisher

    wiggle peak district punisher

    When: 27 September 2015
    Where: Bakewell, Peak District, DE45 1AQ
    How much: entry from £33

    Three incredible routes; short 40 miles, standard 77 miles and epic 100 miles, set in breath-taking countryside and expertly organised by the guys at Wiggle, make for an excellent days riding. As you would expect from a Peak District route – it’s hilly and tough, but there are plenty of feed stations, and views are definitely worth the climbs! Bakewell can be reached by train from Derbyshire, and there are plenty of accommodation options in the area – so why not make a weekend of it! 

     3. Mendip Madness

    When: 4 October 2015
    Where: Ston Easton Hall, BA3 4DA
    How much: £10

    The South West of England provides some of the best cycling routes in the country, and the Mendip Madness ‘Imperial 100’ is no exception! Including Cheddar Gorge, Salisbury Plain and finishing with a tough climb up Jack and Jill hill, the 50 and 100 mile routes have something for everyone. The craziest thing about the Mendip Madness is the price. For just £6 you get a fully signposted route, emergency back up and free refreshments! Make the most of the weekend and head to the lovely Roman city of Bath. Weekend guide here – Dirty Weekend in Bath.

    4. Wiggle South Downs 100

    wiggle south downs sportive 2015

    When: 18 October 2015
    Where: Chichester College, Chichester, PO19 1SB
    How much: entry from £33

    The South Downs 100 is fast becoming a staple on every cyclists calendar, and with 2,500 riders taking part last year, it’s only going from strength to strength. The South Downs are synonymous with cycling, and thanks to another great event from the Wiggle team, we can see why! Again, a choice of routes, mean that there is something for everyone, and the views from the top of Buster Hill are all the sweeter thanks to the challenging climb. Chichester is incredibly easy from London by train and car, and after the ride, why not head into Brighton for a night, or the weekend?

    5. Zappi's Gran Fondo 2015 Cycle Sportive

    zappi's gran fondo

    When: 18 October 2015
    Where: Kirtlington Park Polo Club, OX5 3JQ
    How much: £27

    We’ve often wondered what becomes of a pro cyclist when his days on the road are done. In the case of Italian ex pro Flavio Zappi, the answer is start a highly successful cycling café and club in Oxford. The city of dreaming spires is fast becoming famous for great road cycling, thanks in no small part to Zappi’s Cycling Club (twitter link). So what better way to say thank you, than to join Flavio on his ‘Grand Torno’! With 35 to 115 miles of route, full signage, chip timing and mechanical assistance, it’s clear to see that Flavio isn’t messing about! Combine the ‘Grand Forno’ with a trip to Oxford for a perfect Dirty Weekend! Full details here – Dirty Weekend in Oxford.

    6. Human Race Wildman Duathlon

    human race wildman duathlon

    When: 21 November 2015
    Where: Ash Vale, Surrey
    How much: entry from £46

    The distances aren’t the longest on this Surrey duathlon, but the gruelling terrain of Ash Ranges (a working Army training area), will definitely put you through your paces. Plus, as it’s off road and in November, it’s guaranteed to be a mud bath! Not necessarily a race for your purist road cyclist, but a hell of a lot of fun! Thanks to British Bike Hire (official sponsor), you can hire a top quality mountain bike for the day, and then just give it back all covered in mud!