Where to stay in Britain: February in Bath

Local food in Bath

The recipe used for Fortt’s Bath Olivers is a trade secret; the ingredient list shows the biscuits are still yeast-leavened and contain butter; other ingredients are wheat flour, milk, animal fat, salt, malt extract, hops, and an antioxidant (E320).

The flour and butter are rubbed together and made into a stiff dough with milk in which a little sugar and yeast have been dissolved; a little salt is added. They rise for 90 minutes; the dough is kneaded with a brake until smooth; it is rested before being rolled to a thickness of about 3mm and cut into rounds. After resting, they are baked at 190˚C until gold and crisp.

Bath - Royal Cresent

Where to stay

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Christened Aquae Sulis (waters of the sun) by the Romans, the romantic Regency city of Bath boasts many hotels and B&Bs

For luxury

On a slight incline overlooking the city stands The Bath Priory Hotel, Restaurant & Spa (01225 331922; www.thebathpriory.co.uk). Built in 1835, it was listed in the Sunday Times top 100 British restaurants

For simpler comforts

For a reasonably priced-and comfy B&B near the centre, try Brooks Guesthouse (01225 425543; www.brooksguesthouse.com)

For sophistication

Run by Tim Hugh-principal cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra-and his wife, Kathryn, Dorian House (01225 426336; www.dorianhouse.co.uk) offers period charm with modern sophistication.

For the unexpected

Set in the gardens of a 17th-century mansion near the centre, the Bath Paradise House Hotel (01225 317723; www.paradise-house.co.uk) is an unexpected gem with views of the Royal Crescent and Abbey.

For a taste of history

To relive what life was like in the 18th-century city, hire Marshal Wade’s House (01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk) in Abbey Churchyard. Built in about 1720, this pretty building was formerly owned by Gen Wade, MP for Bath, whose London house was designed by Lord Burlington.

Nature notes

What to look for Along the river are the ubiquitous mallards and moorhens, and, according to the Avon Wildlife Trust, water voles and otters. By February, hazel catkins will be starting to emerge, and snowdrops and aconites will be peeping through the grass in the parks.

But, if you had to pick just one open space in Bath, the National Trust’s Prior Park Landscape Garden in Ralph Allen Drive is not to be missed. Set in a sweeping valley overlooking the city, the 18th-century garden-which was created by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen, with advice from Capability Brown and the poet Alexander Pope-includes one of only four Palladian bridges of this design in the world.

A five-minute walk from the garden-complete with its Serpentine and Cascade-leads to the Bath Skyline, a six-mile circular walk through enchanting woodlands and meadows, an Iron Age hill fort, Roman settlements, 18th-century follies and jaw-dropping views.