Treasure Trails are a different kind of walking tour. They are a perfect way to explore a town or city, whether it is a place you know well, or somewhere completely new. And, as I discovered, these trails are an ideal activity for a lockdown afternoon. They are self guided and socially distanced, and if you are in the UK you can probably find one close to your home, with no extra travel needed. I chose to take a Trail around the centre of Bath, and set out to solve the clues.
What Are Treasure Trails?
Treasure Trails are walking routes with clues to crack along the way, allowing you to solve a mystery. This might be a murder mystery, a spy mission, or a treasure hunt. Whichever you choose, the clues will take you past the main sights of the area, forcing you to stop and look closely rather than rushing past.
There are 1200 Treasure Trails to choose from, covering cities, towns and villages throughout the United Kingdom. Each consists of an 8 page booklet with 20 to 25 clues and some snippets of information along the way, and is designed for self-guided discovery by groups of up to 4-5 people.
The Roman Baths Mystery
There were three trails to choose from in the centre of Bath. The one I tested out was the “Roman Baths Mystery”, a murder hunt starting and finishing close to Bath Abbey. It passed along the city’s Georgian streets, up to the grandeur of the Royal Crescent, and back through Victoria Park to the Roman Baths: for a newcomer to the city it would have provided an excellent overview of what Bath has to offer. The clues were on the buildings, the plaques and the stonework, all hidden in plain sight.
This was slow travel in the literal sense: it took over two hours to cover a little more than two miles. You find yourself stopping to look at everything you pass, details you simply might not have noticed otherwise. I know the city pretty well, but there were still things for me to learn (like the fact that the stone friezes along the houses of The Circus have 528 different images, representing the Arts and the Sciences). And, because I was looking so closely at everything I saw, I also spotted a few things that weren’t included in the Trail!
Who Are Treasure Trails For?
The website describes the Trails as “for kids aged 6-106”. They would certainly be a good family activity, particularly with slightly older children. The clues were just the right level of difficulty: not particularly demanding, but not always immediately obvious. But you don’t need to have children with you – I can confirm that adults will enjoy these walks too. I would recommend them both for places you are familiar with (to discover a bit more) and for new locations (to explore in a different way). I certainly plan to try another trail in a different place.
Most of the Trails are around two miles long so will suit a range of walking abilities. The website has accessibility information for each route, showing whether it is suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.
How To Enjoy A Treasure Trail
Because the walks are self-guided and in public areas, they can be enjoyed at any time. The exception is one or two that are within indoor spaces (such as castles) – check the website for details. There are also a few driving and cycling trails.
The website gives additional useful information (such as car parking) for each route. The Trail booklets also have advice about the location of toilets and refreshment facilities (if available).
Buy the trails online, or download and print out at home. The cost of each is £9.99 (discounts are available if you buy 5 or more at a time).