This post is sponsored by Visit England, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I left university my original plan was to go on a gap a year. I wanted to travel the world, find myself and have those final moments of ‘doing whatever I wanted’ before I had to settle down into the world of work. I mean for most graduates, it’s the dream, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t quite what happened.
Studying in London is INCREDIBLY expensive and when I wasn’t paying my bills I was spending money on getting to University on the opposite side of the city. By the time I graduated I had saved absolutely NOTHING and my gap year was nothing more than a distant dream.
I jumped straight into work and before I knew it, it was five years later.
Whilst I am absolutely gutted I didn’t get to experience a gap year, I love that I can have the same experiences here in the UK. From giving back to a local community to learning a new skill, it’s all possible with a microgap.
So Kirsty, What Exactly Is A Microgap?
As a university graduate or professional in your 20s and 30s, it seems everyone is talking about taking a break to experience an enriching gap year. Whilst it may feel like a rite of passage for most, you don’t have to backpack around South East Asia in order to have incredible experiences. Whether you want to go wild, learn more, switch off or give back – you can have all of those experiences right here in England with a microgap.
From stand up paddleboarding in Sheffield to breathing in the sea air in Brighton, it’s easy to see how you could enjoy the richness of experiences and developmental opportunities offered on a traditional gap year.
Having taken many microgap experiences in the UK, I thought I would share one of my favourites with you. Here’s how I decided to learn more in the stunning city of Bath:
What I Learnt On My Bath Microgap
Whilst on my microgap to Bath, I made it my mission to learn as much as I possibly could. From the history of the Roman Baths to the fascinating stories behind Pulteney Bridge, I left Somerset feeling as though I had a whole new host of facts to share.
A Tour Of The City
One of the best parts of my trip – and the most valuable in terms of information – was definitely the City Highlights Tour. For just £7.50, I had an incredible guide who spent two hours hosting a walking tour of some of the cities hotspots.
One of the first stops on the tour was Bath Abbey, one of my favourite buildings in England. Our guide told us that the present Abbey is actually one of the last great medieval cathedrals to have been built in England. Work began around 1499, however, it was not completed until 1616. If my maths is correct, that means it was almost 120 years before it was opened to the public.
I also learnt that Bath abbey has 1,508 memorials in total – with Westminster Abbey being the only abbey to succeed this number.
Once we had admired the stunning craftsmanship of the abbey, we made our way to the Pump Room. For those of you that don’t know, the Pump Room is a historic building adjacent to the Roman Baths. It serves refreshments including water from the famous hot springs.
Once we had visited Queens Square and Circus, we walked to one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks – the Royal Crescent.
Our guide told us that was designed to keep grazing animals out of the more formal areas of the garden. Now home to a famous five-star hotel, the Royal Crescent has stayed true to its name.
One of our final stops on the tour was Pulteney Bridge, which was actually one of my favourite places on the whole tour. I learnt that the bridge was originally a toll bridge and a boundary between the local parishes. It was built on the condition that freshwater could be transported from the hills to the local townhouses in Bath. Now lined with shops and restaurants on both sides, it truly is a unique bridge to walk across.
The Roman Baths
Although we had a brief tour of the Roman Baths on our walking tour, I decided I wanted to go back to spend as much time as I could learning about their incredible history. Armed with an audio guide and a couple of hours spare, I spent my afternoon in Bath walking around one of the UK’s most famous landmarks.
As much as I would like to share every single detail with you, I honestly believe it is one of those things you need to experience yourself. Some of my highlights and favourite facts include:
- The Roman Bath site includes the remains of the Temple of Aquae Sulis, the famous Roman Baths, the incredible Sacred Spring, and a well-presented museum of artefacts found at the site.
- One of only two classical temples known from Roman Britain was the Temple of Sulis Minerva, which remains are located in the museum.
- The famous baths have actually been modified on a number of different occasions, although not in our lifetime.
- The heart of the complex is the Great Bath. Though now open-air, the Great Bath was originally covered by a 40-meter high, barrel-vaulted roof.
- Although the water in the Great Bath is unsafe for bathing, the nearby Thermae Spa allows you to experience the waters for yourself.
At the end of the audio tour, we were given the chance to drink a little bit of the spa water. I was unsure but as a lover of hands-on experiences, I thought it would be worth a go. The famous water has 43 minerals and has been used for curative purposes for over 2,000 years. Although it was traditionally used to bathe in, the spa water was also used as a treatment when consumed.
It wasn’t to my taste, but I love that I can say I’ve tried water from the famous Roman Baths.
After learning that I could experience the waters for myself at the nearby Thermae Spa, I made my way there to see what the fuss was all about. Whilst there I learnt that over 1 million litres of mineral-rich water flow from the springs each day, all of which are used in the spa.
Why You Should Consider Taking A #MyMicrogap
Now you know what a microgap is and have seen how easy they are to experience yourself, here are some of the incredible reasons you should consider booking your own experience:
It’s Incredibly Affordable – One of the best things about a microgap is that they’re incredibly affordable! Taking a year away from work and finding the funds to travel is a privilege and if you don’t have the luxury of doing so, creating microgap experiences in the UK is a great way to get that same feeling of accomplishment.
You Don’t Have To Take Time Away From Your Responsibilities – If I was to take a gap year now I would worry about whether or not I could leave my responsibilities. From my job to my house, it’s hard to leave things behind in order to experience a gap year. With a microgap, you don’t have to worry about leaving anything behind as it’s all about experiencing things in the space of a day.
You Can Appreciate What Is On Your Doorstep – As much as I love to travel to faraway countries, it feels great when you’re able to appreciate what is on your doorstep. England is an incredible country and I know the more I explore, the more places I will fall in love with.
You Can Learn New Skills – As shown by my recent trip to Bath, you can learn incredible new skills on a microgap. From brushing up on your history knowledge to learning how to create something incredible, the skills you can learn right here in the UK are endless.
You Can Take Time Away From Your Day-To-Day Life – Taking time away from your day-to-day life is incredibly important and if you’re looking for an affordable way to escape, a microgap is a GREAT idea. Whether you switch your phone off for the day or you take time to enjoy the natural things in life, you don’t have to hop on a plane to get away.
It Can Be Just As Enjoyable – As much as I wish I’d swam with sea turtles in Bali, experienced island hopping in Thailand and walked the Great Wall in China, microgapping in England can be just as enjoyable. From stand-up paddleboarding to visiting historic spas, you may be surprised by how much you can enjoy yourself on your home soil.
Have you ever considered doing a microgap before? Where would you do yours and what would you do? I’m already busy planning my next one…