Day 2. Exploring Cheltenham

After spending the previous day visiting Sudeley Castle and nearby Winchcombe we moved our focus onto the Regency spa town of Cheltenham where we were staying.  After breakfast we headed over to The Bicycle Hub  located at Cheltenham Spa railway station where we’d arranged the hire of e-bikes so that we could take the Regency Cheltenham Cycle Trail.

Bicycle Hub Cheltenham, e-bike hire
Setting off from the station on our e-bikes

After being equipped with helmets and been shown how to operate the e-bikes we had a quick practice ride around the car park and then, feeling confident we were ready to go.  The Bicycle Hub have worked with tour company Compass Holidays to create a phone app with several trails so we downloaded this to follow the six mile route around Cheltenham.

The Pump Room, Pittville Park, Cheltenham
The Pump Room, Pittville Park

The cycle trail takes in many of Cheltenham’s landmarks and mostly follows the route of an old railway, The Honeybourne Line and is relatively flat.  Both e-bikes and bicycles can be hired out for part or whole days and as locks are provided, it’s easy to stop off where you wish and explore at your own pace.  We thought that it would be the best of both worlds to cycle round following the trail, stopping briefly to take photos and then to return to some of the landmarks later in the day on foot.

Lake at Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Pittville Park lakeside

Riding an e-bike is a pleasurable experience as you can exert as much energy as you wish or let the bike take the strain.  The trail took us through Pittville Park passing the Pump Room and then later into Sandford Park where we paused to admire its stunning flower bed displays.

Sandford Park, Cheltenham
We paused to admire the floral displays in Sandford Park

The trail returns through the town centre along the fashionable Promenade with its Regency buildings and gardens.  As most of the route is off-road it’s suitable for the whole family and we thought it was a fun way to experience all that Cheltenham has to offer in a relatively short period of time.

The Promenade, Cheltenham
The Promenade

After returning the e-bikes back to the station we returned to the centre for a leisurely stroll along the tree lined Promenade.  This beautiful boulevard dates back to 1818 at the height of the Regency period and is home to some grand buildings, high class shops, cafes and restaurants.

Neptune Fountain, Cheltenham
The Neptune Fountain

The Long Gardens run alongside the Promenade and are laid out with ornamental flower beds, statues and at one end an opulent fountain.  The Neptune Fountain outside the municipal buildings depicts the Roman God of the Sea, Neptune and is surrounded by mythical sea creatures.  It is thought to have been modelled on the Trevi Fountain in Rome but has never been proven, nevertheless it is stunning and should not be missed.

Montpelier Quarter, Cheltenham
The Montpellier Quarter

The Promenade leads onto the Montpellier Quarter, one of the most desirable parts of the town with its attractive gardens, stunning architecture, designer shopping and dining options.  Montpellier was created by two gentlemen in the 19th century as a retreat from hectic town centre life.

Caryatids on Montpelier Walk, Cheltenham
Caryatids on Montpellier Walk

Along Montpellier Walk there are 32 caryatids (draped female figures) based on those found in the Acropolis in Athens.  Each figure balances an elaborate cornice on her head, functioning as exquisite structural supports between the buildings.

Garden Cafe, Montpelier Gardens, Cheltenham
Garden Cafe in Montpellier Gardens

Across the road lie the Montpellier Gardens which were laid out in 1809.  The expansive lawns are frequently a base for local festivals which take place regularly during the year.  A cafe, the Garden’s Gallery (an exhibition space for local artists) and a bandstand are to be found at the far side of the gardens.

Statue of Gustav Holst, Imperial Gardens, Cheltenham
The statue of Gustav Holst in the Imperial Gardens,

The Imperial Gardens, Cheltenham’s former pleasure gardens are located close by and feature a statue of the local born composer Gustav Holst whose birthplace museum we were on our way to.

Cheltenham Town Hall
Cheltenham Town Hall

Cheltenham Town Hall sits to one side of the gardens.  Unlike most other town halls it was built as a venue for social events and is not the council offices.  The main entrance to the building faces a row of Regency town houses along the main road.

Regent Street, Cheltenham
Lots of dining options along Regent Street

Our stroll led us back to the Promenade and onto Regent Street which has a continental feel with its outdoor dining terraces in front of handsome period properties.  Restaurants and shops along here are nearly all independently owned and being a cheese lover I just had to pop into The Cheeseworks.  It’s also home to Woodkraft, an artisan eatery run by Masterchef champion Simon Wood.

The Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham
The Holst Birthplace Museum

After a relaxing lunch we continued on foot to the Holst Birthplace Museum on the edge of Pittville Park.  The museum is currently open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday with standard admission £7.

The Music Room, Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham
The Music Room

Gustav Holst is a famous British composer, noted for his composition of The Planets.  He was born in the house which now acts as the museum in 1874.  Holst spent his early years in Cheltenham before moving to London to study at the Royal College of Music.

The Regency Dining Room, Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham
The Regency Dining Room

The Music Room on the ground floor contains the piano on which he composed The Planets, manuscripts, music scores and recordings of excerpts of his music which can be listened to at the press of a button.  There’s also a small cinema room upstairs running a 25 minute video of his life and music.

The Kitchen, Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham
The family kitchen

It’s a small museum run by enthusiastic volunteers who are very welcoming and helpful explaining things.  As the house is a time capsule of 19th century life and includes a Regency period sitting room, bedroom, nursery, working kitchen and scullery I believe that it would be of interest to most people even if they are not classical music enthusiasts.

Entrance gates to Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Entrance gates to Pittville Park

Leaving the museum we had reached the entrance gates to Pittville Park through which we had cycled earlier in the day.  This part of Cheltenham is known as Pittville and was created by Joseph Pitt (1759-1842) who invested the profits from his legal practice into the building of a 100 acre park estate lined with Regency houses.  The park was laid out in 1827 with the magnificent Pump Room being completed three years later.  Since 1890 both the Park and Pump Room have been owned by the council.

Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Pittville Pump Room and Lake

The park is a very pleasant place for a gentle stroll or to enjoy a picnic.  It is divided in two by Evesham Road with the eastern side overlooking a lake and the Pump Room.  On the afternoon of our visit we were unable to go inside as private function was taking place but normally it’s possible to look around and to visit its tea rooms.

The Boathouse, Pittville Park, Cheltenham
The boathouse in Pittville Park

We continued onto the western side of the park which is home to the lower lake.  There’s a very attractive Boathouse located on the lakeside which serves as a cafe with an outdoor terrace and also as the place to hire rowing boats from.

The Brewery Quarter, Cheltenham
The Brewery Quarter

As we’d cycled and walked so much during the day, rather than walking all the way back into the town centre we caught a bus from the edge of the park then after a rest back at the hotel we enjoyed a relaxing meal in the Brewery Quarter.  The perfect end to our weekend in the beautiful Regency spa town of Cheltenham.

Our weekend in Cheltenham was supported by Visit Cheltenham and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

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50 thoughts on “Day 2. Exploring Cheltenham

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    So much more to Cheltenham that racing! The Neptune Fountain definitely gave me thoughts of Rome, but it doesn’t look out of place. It looks a beautiful town, a wonderful post giving a fresh look at somewhere I might not have considered for a short break previously. With potentially just one year left in this neck of the woods, I’d better start making plans to see these places!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ll love visiting Cheltenham Helen. It really is an elegant town and you could either bring your own bikes or hire some from the station to tour round. I expect your three younger children all break up this week. Have fun together and enjoy the summer sunshine. We’re off to London for the weekend to celebrate my younger son’s birthday and our planned walks might need to turn into museum visits as thunderstorms are forecast, let’s hope the Met Office is wrong!

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  2. Cheltenham is one of the places I have always wanted to visit but seem to bypass! Having read your post, I am convinced that I would enjoy everything Cheltenham has to offer. The Regency Cheltenham Cycle Trail sounds brilliant! Thank you for another interesting and informative post, Marion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was very interesting to learn about Gustav Holst and his birthplace museum was fascinating. E-bikes are definitely the way to go as you can exert as much or as little effort as you wish. They are especially good for setting off and up hills! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Mandy Jenkinson

    Thank you for visiting the Holst Museum, we’re so pleased you enjoyed it and have posted such lovely photos. I was on duty that day and it was so nice to meet you. Come again some time!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mandy Jenkinson

      Please do come and visit us some time! There are going to be some exciting new developments from September when we’re rebranding as Holst’s Victorian House – Cheltenham’s only Victorian House open to the public. And your entry fee allows for a full year’s free access to the museum!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Bicycling through parts of region you’re traveling in certainly makes for a breezy and efficient way to see as much as possible, all the while getting a good sweat! Cheltenham looks to be the picturesque place perfect for cycling around in, and I’m glad you had gorgeous weather to boot!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Biking is such a great way to explore a city, especially when you have limited time. That’s great that you had a trail and an app to guide you to the main landmarks and attractions. This looks like a beautiful area. I especially loved all the flowers in Sandford Park.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Travel around the planet at high speed and you tick off an awful lot of places — but ride a bicycle and you see and experience far more. One of the things that I love about bicycles -they can go practically anywhere. They aren’t terribly good in deep water, but bikes can take on just about any kind of land. And as you ride along, you see all the little details that make up a real world. You see how people live and work. You see what plants are growing, and your quiet progress may enable you to slowly creep up on timid animals and shy birds. Thanks for sharing so many beautiful photos, Marion and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xxx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know exactly what you mean, by taking the slow route be it on a bicycle, on a canal boat or on foot, we see so much more of what is around us. Cycling in Cheltenham is safe and relatively flat so it would be a fun activity for the whole family. Thanks so much for your welcome thoughts Aiva.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I live in Cheltenham but I had no idea about the e-bike hire at the train station!

    I’m glad you got to go around lots of the parks (the best parts of the town in my opinion) and still manage to squeeze in lunch and the Holst museum (I’m glad they’re still going as they must have struggled during the pandemic, and they got flooded out the year before that too).

    I love the parks at the top of the promenade but I’ve not been in ages because of covid. I actually live not too far from Pitville park, just a 10 minute walk really – it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? You certainly went around a heck of a lot. Love your photos!

    Caz xx

    Liked by 3 people

  8. So good to see more and more bike rental shops renting E-bikes. When we visit Vancouver, Mom and Dad need these to keep up with bicycling son and daughter. Cheltenham has a lot going on for its size. Thanks for sharing Marion. Enjoy your day. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  9. It looks drop dead gorgeous. The second I saw the photo of the fountain I thought, ‘Oh! a mini Trevi’. I had two nights in the hotel directly opposite the Rome version (I wasn’t footing the bill), so theoretically I know what I’m talking about 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  10. What a nice way of exploring … e-bikes seems to be quite popular these days in tourist places (I still have to try one). Pittville Park is such a beautiful place – love the lakeside photo and those pretty flowers. Oh yes, and the Neptune Fountain!
    Lovely walk (and ride), thanks Marion!

    Liked by 4 people

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