School run across Bath in rush hour - advice please!!(14 Posts)
I am desperate for some advice from Bath locals. My family and I are relocating to Bath next year (which we are very excited about) and are currently looking for schools and housing. We have seen a lovely house in Widcombe which we were until recently all set to buy, thinking we would send our 3 children to the Paragon nearby. BUT! My husband asked me to look at Kingswood, which I have fallen in love with and I realise it is the north side of Bath and so would entail a major cross-city commute to and from home each day. My children are 5, 7 and 9 and I don't want to subject them or myself to this if it is absolutely horrendous. The headmaster said I would find it "a pain after a while". My question is, am I mad to be contemplating this, or are there ways around it - eg. timing, rat-runs etc. Is it do-able, or should I be rethinking my house situation? Unfortunately, we cannot rent beforehand as we will lose our current (brilliant rate) mortgage (and DH won't contemplate this), but it's such a big decision to buy a house which might be in the wrong place! With moving costs being so high, we can't afford to get it wrong. Please help - any advice would be so much appreciated.
Hmmm. It's do-able, but I'm with the head – you'd find it a pain, and you're committing to it for a long time.
We moved when our son was young and ended up on the other side of Bath from his nursery, so my husband had to drive across the city four times a day to drop him off and pick him up. We did it, but it was a huge relief when he started school a few minutes from our house – and we save a fortune in petrol!
I think the journey would be hard, and you'd be doing it every day, five days a week for many years to come, so I'd definitely be looking at closer houses I think.
One other thing – can you do a practice? Stay in Bath (hotel or friends) for a couple of days, and actually make the journey at the times you'd need to make it, to see how you find it?
Bath is a lovely city mrs bramble but the traffic is horrible and it takes very little for the city to end up in gridlock. I'm in south Bath so I'm not that familiar with the route you would need to take, hopefully someone with better knowledge than me will be along soon to advise re rat runs and timings. But I do know that getting from one side of the city to another at any time of the day can end up being a major trek. Good luck with your move!
Thank you Rhian82 and MiniZilla for your replies. I suspected it might be a problem. I think we will do a practice soon and see how it is, as you suggest, Rhian82. It's just that the Lansdown area is sOOO expensive! And I like it South - it seems more "old Bath". But we will need to do a lot of hard thinking!
It is very true that the traffic in Bath can be very challenging! We live within a 10 minute walk from our DCs school. I hadn't thought much about it until a mum at the school told me she envied us walking to school everyday.
I hope your practice run goes well and you find the right home for your family
Where in Widcombe are you looking?
We might be in the reverse situation in a few years: DS is at KES pre-prep (near Victoria Park) and we live next to Kingswood School on Lansdown. If DS goes to KES Jnrs, then we would have the cross-town commute (KES Jnrs is at the bottom of North Road. We are going to look at Kingswood for Jnrs, BUT I do like KES very much. Will have to weigh up what suits DS best when he gets closer to Jnrs.
If you could find a suitable property closer to Lansdown, it is a great place to live: right on the edge of Bath, but so quick into town and to the motorway. Some bits are incredibly peaceful.
If I was commuting from Widcombe to Kingswood, I would look to go past the Avon Street Car Park, past Green Park, up to Queens Square, up to the Royal Circus, past the Assembly Rooms, to Lansdown Road, then up to the school.
We live in Widcombe. Our neighbour sent her daughter to Royal High for a good 10 years (opposite Kingswood) so a few people do "manage" it I think they used to aim to get there for 8am. When she was older she caught a shuttle bus from the station and/or lift-shared.
RHS and KES seem to share quite a few buses from the outlying towns and villages (likewise, KES has mini-buses shuttling kids between Weston and the Junior/senior schools, so parents just do one drop-off, and the train station). It might be worth enquiring if there are any minibuses for Kingswood. When they are older, the Park and Ride buses stop outside the senior school (but it is a pain getting up to Milsom St to board them).
In terms of the drive, we often have to go up to Kingswood on Saturday afternoons. We do a similar route to QTPie's, but we go round Avon St carpark, along St James Parade and James St West to get up to Queens Sq. On the way home we tend to go straight down Lansdown and along Guinea Lane and over Cleveland Bridge. We certainly build in a 15 minute margin of error...we do need it about 1/3 of the time.
If you have ruled out KES and Prior Park/Paragon, did you look at Monkton Combe? Those are the right side of the city for you.
Thanks QTPie and Madcats - I am really grateful for your comments. We would be at the top of Widcombe hill, near the university. I haven't ruled out other schools although I was concerned that KES might be too pushy for my DS's; I think DD could handle it. I'd like them all to go to the same school. We're moving from rural Oxfordshire because Bath seems to have so much to offer and I'd like the DC's to have more independence as they grow up. I was hoping to use less of the car, so the cross-town commute in heavy traffic was not what I was planning on! I will definitely check out some of the other schools too. MadCats, how do you find Widcombe? Is it a nice place to live?
We love living in Widcombe. People tend to stay put for quite a while so can feel a bit parochial. If you were to live at the top of Widcombe Hill you could make use of the very regular uni buses that stop outside Claverton Village Hall
I used to work several days/week in London so insisted that we were within a 5-10 minute walk of the train station (which effectively meant we restricted our house-search to Widcombe/Lyncombe). The canal and Bathwick Hill are on our doorstep if we fancy some fresh air. (2 tunnels quite close too, if you get on by the Paragon). Rainbow Woods/Prior Park are more of a hike but also great.
Everything is on our doorstep (4 pubs, takeaways, coffee shops, convenience stores, garden centre, drs and dentists) or it is a 5-10 minute walk into town. Dancing/gym/judo classes etc are all available close by (as is the sports centre/cricket/rugby). The Holburne/local museums etc all seem to do plenty of activities for children in the school holidays too. We don't need to worry about where to (pay) to park the car as we don't need to drive. We only need to use a car at weekends.
We borrowed a friends house in Lansdown for a few weeks when our extension was being demolished/rebuilt and I really noticed that there weren't all the amenities just round the corner (though I did have a toddler in a pushchair at the time).
DD is at KES (North Road) BTW
Just had a thought. Widcombe traffic is quite probably at its worst at the moment (whilst they are remodelling the A36). Why don't one or more of you pop down for a long weekend (the Travelodge in Widcombe shouldn't be too pricey and you can park there) and drive about.
If you are at the top of Widcombe Hill I think I would change the school route.
Go down Bathwick Hill (North Road is a bit mad after 8:10 with KES parents and people trying to get up to the Uni), along past Henrietta Park...probably along the Paragon but we also do a v sharp turn up Margarets Hill by TR Hayes and go along Lower Hedgemead Road to get to Lansdown that way.
To be perfectly honest, I think that Bath is a pretty ideal place to live, especially for families. There is lots to do for young kids/families, but you are also right that teens can have more independence here. It is a great city: lots going on, but you are right next to countryside if that is what you want too.
We lived next to the University (on the part of The Avenue off of Woodland Grove) for about 4 months. I thought that it was a lovely area. It had a really nice feel: quiet and spacious, but you just literally "roll down the hill" into the centre of town. The bus service is incredibly good (because it serves the university) and the walk down Bathwick Hill is very easy and just beautiful. I am sure that we would have been very happy living up there longer term too.
Madcats, the top of Widcombe/Bathwick is very similar to the top of Lansdown in many ways. You could go into the university to use the shop, but otherwise there isn't much within walking distance (well you can walk down, but the walk back up is a bit of a hike with a small child). When we lived next to the university, we were still very car reliant (although the bus is much more of an option - since they run more regularly and longer hours - near the university).
I completely agree with Madcats: from the top of Widcombe, you are better off going down Bathwick Hill (a beautiful drive any time of day - doesn't count as a "commute" ;) ), then past Henrietta Park (via the back streets), Cleveland Bridge, The Parragon and up Lansdown Road.
I went to the Kingswood Jnr School Open Day, this week, and it does look really fab: a very dynamic school with lots going on for the children. KES is undoubtedly fantastic too (although I haven't looked at Jnrs yet). As you say, it is about picking the school that suits the individual child best.
You are definitely against living in Lansdown? We struggled to find somewhere on the open market, so "letter dropped", but we were very familiar with the area and knew what we were looking for (so could identify roads/houses). I would do that again (not that I am ever moving again...).
Both schools are really very good and would provide your children with a wonderful education, albeit Kingswood is considered a bit religious by some. The differences between them are marginal. So why bother putting yourself through daily hassle?
Thank you all for your helpful comments. I am going to look again at the Paragon and hopefully make my mind up from there! I am not against living in Lansdown, it's just that we haven't found anything for sale there that we like or could afford and we have found something on the south side. In an ideal world we could have taken more time over this very important decision! I must admit when I visited Kingswood it didn't appear very "churchy": is it? Does anyone know whether the Paragon is much less academic than Kingswood?
Academics are strong with both. It's the way they are taught that may be different. At Paragon (and when they get to Prior Park College) the teaching is inspiring and fun. Paragon kids have access to the facilities and teaching staff at Prior (Philosophy, Science, Drama, Sport, etc).
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