Courtesy of SS Great Britain, Being Brunel

Grand Designs

Design, science and technology - three days with creative geniuses

Day 1

The Grandeur of Bath

Where the city's building blocks are regarded as a masterpiece of human creativity.

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Courtesy Bath Preservation Trust

Museum of Bath Architecture

Begin the exploration of this unique city with this splendid museum which shows how a sleepy provincial town was transformed into the world famous Georgian Spa and a paragon of urban design.

The city’s enduring world reputation is largely down to the vision of architect John Wood. His lasting legacy was not only the beautifully designed buildings but their positioning within the green landscape of the city.

Venue information
  • Walk 10 mins
  • Car 5 mins
Photo by Nick Smith

En route

Stroll through the city (up Hay Hill and Alfred Street) past the Assembly Rooms - the centre of Georgian social life - to the magnificent John Wood designed Circus.

No. 1 Royal Crescent Bath
Courtesy no.1 Royal Crescent

No. 1 Royal Crescent

Before entering the museum, take a moment to marvel at the sweeping elegance of the Royal Crescent, one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture anywhere in the world which has been virtually unchanged since it was built in 1767.

Inside, explore the house which recreates how Georgian daily life was spent, both for the fashionable members of society upstairs and those toiling below stairs.

Venue information
  • Walk 15 mins
Photo by Paolo Ferla

En route

Travel down Bartlett Street and the pedestrianised Milsom Street, and window-shop as you pass by the wide variety of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Courtesy of Bath Preservation Trust

Herschel Museum of Astronomy

William Herschel and his sister Caroline lived in this modest Georgian terraced house when in 1781, using a telescope of his own construction, he discovered the planet Uranus and subsequently became the first President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The house has now been fully restored to its original 18th century condition and celebrates the wide-ranging Herschel family achievements in astronomy, science and music.

Venue information

Day 2

Bristol: an industrial engineering test bed

A day with Isambard Kingdom Brunel: 'the man who built modern Britain'.

Courtesy of Visit England

M Shed

Start the day at M Shed, the museum housed in a dockside warehouse, that tells the 2,000-year-old story of Bristol and its people in a thought-provoking and fun way. Using everyday and rare objects, films, photographs and music, learn about the history and building blocks that make up this unique city.

On the weekends there is usually a chance to see the old docks working once again with steam trains and a chance to climb into the cranes - check the M Shed website for details.

Venue information
  • Walk 15 mins
  • Cycle 5 mins

En route

Walk or cycle along the harbour and stop off for one of Brunel's Buttery's famous bacon sarnies and a cup of tea.

Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol
Photo by Adam Gasson

Brunel's SS Great Britain

Brunel was part genius, part showman, and at this museum visitors can discover not only the key to his successes but also his mistakes. Sitting as part of the beautifully-restored SS Great Britain, Being Brunel houses six galleries with over 150 personal artefacts, evoking the sense of wonder and invention associated with this brilliant engineer. Enjoy an audio visual - and (with the waft of cigar smoke) smellable - experience of his life and work. This is an opportunity to get inside the head of Brunel - literally!

Venue information
  • Boat 5 mins
  • Bus 20 mins
Courtesy of No. 7 Boats

En route

Outside the SS Great Britain take the very short ferry crossing to the other side of the Harbour (£1), then walk 10 minutes to St. Augustine’s Parade from where the No 8 bus goes to Clifton.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol
Courtesy of Visit England

Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre

Designed by Brunel but not completed until after his death, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is Bristol’s most iconic landmark. Spanning the Avon Gorge, the views over the city are stunning.

Walk over the Bridge to the Visitor Centre and find out about this famous landmark's history and the people who built it. The Visitor Centre offers guided tours and opportunities to explore the Bridge’s huge vaults.
Venue information
Photo by Morgane Bigault, courtesy of Visit Bristol

Dine in Clifton Village

Finish the day in this famously opulent area of Bristol, where elegant streets are with lined with bustling cafes, fine dining restaurants and traditional pubs - try the Coronation Tap, a ciderhouse and Bristol institution.

Day 3

Take To The Air

The region has been a centre for the aerospace industry since the very beginnings of powered flight. (Note: this itinerary requires driving).

Courtesy of Aerospace Bristol

Aerospace Bristol

The stunning centrepiece of this museum is the first ever supersonic airliner, Concorde, designed, built and tested in Bristol. Stepping inside the huge hangar where it is now housed really does take the breath away.

In another aircraft hangar is an excellent hands-on display of the history of aviation in Bristol, including planes, missiles and satellites, from the earliest flimsy contraptions to sleek examples of the supersonic jet age and space exploration.

Venue information
  • Car 25 mins
Courtesy of North Somerset Council

En route

Take a short drive down the M5 to the coast at Clevedon, a charming Victorian seaside town.

Clevedon Pier
Courtesy of Clevedon Pier

Clevedon Pier

This beautiful example of Victorian engineering, the only Grade 1 listed pier in the country, was built with iron left over from one of Brunel’s railway ventures. It’s a wonderful spot for lunch with the glass walled Tiffin restaurant offering far-reaching views over the sea.

Venue information
  • Car 20 mins
  • Bus 30 mins (X5)
Courtesy of North Somerset Council

En route

From one seaside town to another - travel down the coast towards Weston-super-Mare.

Courtesy of the Helicopter Museum

The Helicopter Museum

Just before reaching Weston-super-Mare, turn off at the airport roundabout for The Helicopter Museum - a unique collection of over 80 aircraft. Highlights include the American Huey used in Vietnam, and a Russian gunship seen in the skies in Afghanistan, plus the 30 foot ‘Bristol Bloodhound’ Missiles made just down the road in Banwell shortly after WW2. There’s a hands on feel with regular open cockpit days that give you a chance to climb aboard and have the controls explained to you by an expert.

Venue information
Photo by Andrew Dunn

Fish and chips by the sea

No visit to the English coast is complete without fish and chips on the beach!

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