We loved seeing all the decorated owls around Bath during our recent press trip to the city. (The trip was a paid collaboration with National Express, with hospitality from Visit Bath, and Bath Boutique Stays. You can read more here.)
There are 82 of the sculptures across the World Heritage city. The flock arrived on Monday 26 June and leave on Monday 10 September, making it a perfect summer holiday activity if you live in the area or are planning a trip there.
The Minerva Owls of Bath outdoor art trail
We spotted our first owl just moments after arriving at Bath Bus Station – Emma The Community Rail Owl, with her multi-coloured wings. Close by to her was Twit To Leave EU (sponsored by Bath for Europe unsurprisingly!).
We had a 20-minute walk from the station to the beautiful house we were staying in (review coming soon), and the owls were a great motivator to keep my children walking. We spotted around 10 on our walk to the house, and 28 in total on our weekend. Most of them are pictured here although some of them we saw while travelling on the City Sightseeing bus so we didn’t manage to get photos.
Until I downloaded and read the Owls app the before we left for Bath, I hadn’t realised the winged creatures had such a connection with the city.
Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and her symbol was the owl. The Roman Baths temple, built in 1AD, was dedicated to Minerva’s owl of wisdom – and visitors can still see the owl carving in the Temple pediment displayed at the Roman Baths Museum.
The sculpture trail really celebrates the Roman heritage of Bath, not to mention more recent culture and industry, and as visitors to the city it was a fun way for us to learn.
Gemini Twinned To Yoo celebrates Bath’s twinned cities in Holland, Germany, and Japan. Emily is sponsored by Norland Nannies – which has been based in the city since 2003 and based on founder Emily Ward. There’s IsamBIRD Kingdom BrunOWL – a celebration of the famous inventor and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who founded the Great Western Railway and the city’s famous Pulteney Bridge. And there’s even one called Hoops wearing a Bath rugby shirt.
The trail is raising money for four brilliant local charities. A profits will be donated to charity with 70% going to the Forever Friends £8.5m appeal for the new Royal United Hospital Cancer Centre. Construction on the state-of-the-art health centre for cancer patients will begin in 2019. Three other charities will each receive 10% – The Archway Project which will create a new state-of-the-art Learning Centre and World Heritage Visitor Centre at the Roman Baths complex; Bath and North East Somerset Young Carers which supports young carers aged 5 to 18 who regularly look after a family member who is ill, frail or disabled; and The UK Little Owl Project a Bath-based conservation charity helping to protect UK Little Owls.
At the end of the trail the bigger owls will be auctioned off for the charities on 17 October and the smaller owlets will be returned to the schools and charities who painted them.
It’s best to do the trail during the day because most of the owls are taken indoors at night (you can see some of them in shop windows). Twelve are displayed outdoors 24 hours a day. Details of viewing times for all the owls are on the app and website.
There’s a handy Owls of Bath trail map available from Waterstones in Milsom Street, Bath Aqua Glass by Bath Abbey, the Bath Visitor Information Centre and Flamingo in Widcombe for a donation of £2. Or you can download the Owls of Bath app which gives more information about each owl and an interactive map.
The Minerva Owls trail runs until Monday 10 September. For more information see the website or download the free app.