As you know by now when I travel, I value unique experiences that lean towards a historical background. This is also true when I am booking tours. I don’t always choose a guided tour but sometimes the location requires it, or the tour company offers something special. Bath, England is a great place to go for a day trip! I wanted to dive deeper into more of what Bath has to offer. Keep reading for my experience with Mad Max tours.
Bath is a world UNESCO city and has a 2000-year-old history. Not only that BUT it’s located close to Cotswold, Stonehenge Glastonbury and so much more. I knew that I needed to book a longer trip and take my time exploring all that this city had to offer.
Enter Mad Max tours! Maddy, the owner of Mad Max tours, pours her heart and soul into these itineraries and it shows. Mad Max is a small tour company that doesn’t believe in the charter bus style tours. Instead they have a 16 person limit for each tour so I didn’t feel lost in the crowd. The company has over 25 years of experience!
All of the guides are local, very informative and funny as hell! My tour guide really made our trip, more on that later I promise! I trust this particular company because they encourage guests to explore more of the county of Wiltshire. Most companies I researched were based out of London and seemed to lack personality which, no thank you. If I am spending ALL DAY with you, I better enjoy it, otherwise it would be a complete waste. For travelers with a time limit, be sure to pick a reputable company, so you make every minute count! Now let’s dive into the tour itself so you can see what an amazing company this is.
I chose to take Tour 1 which included Stonehenge, Cotswold Villages and Avebury Stone Circles. Hands down it was the best decision the day was jammed packed, but I never felt rushed. We started off by meeting in the City Centre and then choosing the coveted bus seats. If you’re picky like me, arrive early so you can pick the spot you like. You will be on this bus all day so get comfortable.
Pro-tip – make sure you get some breakfast before the tour and bring snacks!
Once we all checked in, we made our way to Stonehenge and our guide kept us entertained with hilarious stories mixed in with history. As a historian I love when someone can take a boring history fact and make it interesting to listen to. I learned that certain houses in the countryside have thatch roofs. When you buy a house with thatch you can’t change it, meaning you are responsible for the maintenance, and you have to hire a specifically trained person to come out and manage it. Not only is it a dying skill but it’s VERY expensive. I will never look at another thatch roof the same!
Upon arrival at Stonehenge, you will be given a brief overview and set free to roam around and you will need to return to the bus by a certain time. I love that I didn’t feel obligated to stay with the group and could take it in at my own pace. I also appreciate that they make this our first stop, so we didn’t deal with as many crowds. Seeing Stonehenge in person is such an amazing experience and one I highly recommend. I did a full review just on seeing Stonehenge. Definitely read if you’re interested to learn about how I got lost and chased off a field by a cow. True story!
Next, we made our way to Lacock National Trust Village, this is when things got good! As we pulled in, we were informed the town wasn’t available for its normal experience, I was a little disappointed at first. Our guide proceeded to tell us they were filming a movie…he piqued my interest. Then he drops the bomb that its DOWNTON ABBEY! I let out a scream from the back of the bus everyone stared but I didn’t care. I know this area is a popular filming location but had no idea that I would see it in person WHILE BEING FILMED. It was the coolest thing ever, not only is this town straight out of a fairy book, but I saw Mary and Lady Grantham and it was such an experience! They have also filmed Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice and a few others in this town as well.
Trying to collect myself after fan-girling so hard we made our way for a photo stop, now this isn’t on the itinerary but one of my favorites. We pulled off for a rest and the driver pulled some hay out and we got to pet a beautiful horse. Now while I understand this was a rest break, I am calling it a photo-op because I mean that horse was cute, and I am a sucker for a cute animal. We then stopped for a real photo-op with another horse and no I am not lying. This one however has a longer and more interesting backstory.
Cherhill White Horse is over 300 years old and is one of 13 white horses in Wiltshire. The chalk is naturally from the hillside beneath the horse. It’s really so stunning and makes you wonder why it was created? No worries, I did the homework for you or well I just listened to the tour guide. He said that a man named Dr. Christopher Alsop stripped away the grass to show the chalk hillside underneath. Inspired by friend and artist George Stubbs famously known for his horse paintings Alsop made it into a horse. Now he was called a mad doctor and apparently used a 18th century version of a megaphone to instruct them on the drawing…. yeah, I would say he was a little odd but hey, it’s a cool piece of art!
We then stopped at the Avebury stone circles and let me just say ALL THE OUTLANDER VIBES. If you read the books or watch the show you know it’s about a woman named Claire falling through standing stone circle and meeting the hot, I mean noble, James Fraser. I had no idea that there are so many circles and people still have no idea why they were built. While not as perfectly formed as Stonehenge there are way more standing rocks in Avebury. I didn’t hear any weird humming and I didn’t fall through a time hole, but none the less I was moved by the stones. They are huge and seeing a picture doesn’t do it justice. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they went up, like seriously I can only imagine the conversations.
Hey what if we put up a bunch of stone circles and not say why…but that’s crazy man why would we do that…just to mess with people in the future…brilliant dude let’s do it!
Maybe it wouldn’t be exactly like that, but you catch my drift. It’s a fascinating piece of history and all jokes aside a very moving place to take a walk. You can feel the age of the ground and its inspiring to say the least.
We ended our day at Castle Combe Village, and I have expected to see Snow White walking up the street with a deer. Seriously ,this place is just something out of a fairy tale. Plus, the residents name their homes and one is the Unicorn Lodge and I feel a real connection to that house. I can 100% agree with the vote for Castle Combe Village to be the prettiest village in England. Cobblestone streets with bubbling creeks and houses from a book, it’s amazing, I would move there but it’s pricey, so I will just stay a visitor for now.
After a long day we took the bus back to Bath and I just have to say it was truly one of the best days of travel I have had!
Now that I have told you all about the tour and the company here are my thoughts. I would with no doubt in my mind recommend Mad Max tour company! The cost truly doesn’t do the tour justice. They under promise and over deliver which is what I love to see in a tour company. They truly support the community of Bath and the surrounding areas. Mad Max tours will provide you with new information, show you awesome places and treat you like royalty!
You may be thinking I could rent a car and do it on my own, why pay? I agree and have thought that myself many times but let me tell you why a tour is a better choice. Would you know the history of the white horse on the hill, or would you even notice? What about the origin of what a thatch roofer is or about their special seal? Would you have early access to Stonehenge and knowledge without Google? Tour companies like this are worth the money because you are investing in your education as a world traveler. While you can learn as you go sometimes having a local tell you about it will embed a piece of that place. Its authentic and something really hard to replicate.
Give Mad Max tours a shot and spend more than a day in Bath and you will not be disappointed!