For the Autumn Half Term this year, we decided to book a break to Somerset for the week. The last time we visited Somerset, T wasn’t even born so we were well overdue a visit!
If we were to put the West Country counties in order, Dorset and Cornwall will always sit high on the list. Therefore, we often favour them over the others (especially as it means we get to avoid a A303!) but we forgot how much Somerset had to offer. In comparison to the other counties, because Somerset doesn’t boast huge beaches like in Cornwall and Devon, it feels a lot quieter.
Which is just what we needed.
Arriving on Saturday, and after travelling for most of the day, we decided to opt for a more relaxing day on the Sunday. We explored local towns and villages, and just got to know the area. This is a nice habit that we’ve adopted over the years whilst travelling the UK. It means we don’t overdo it too soon into a holiday, and the smaller locations get some love as well.
Our accomodation was situated just up the road from Somerton, which is around 20-30 minutes away from Glastonbury by car. Nestled within a working farm, our lodge was a home away from home. As well as the usual necessities, the lodge also came with a hot tub (!). Plus, a herd of cows on our doorstep. In the mornings we’d have breakfast at the same time as the cows, and by night we’d have a cheeky dip in the hot tub. Surprisingly, this was very relaxing, even in October rain! In the surrounding area was a country pub and a really good chippy. Down the road a bit further was the Clarks Outlet Shopping Village.
Exploring Somerton was like browsing a miniature Wells. There was a number of local shops; ranging from antique shops to bakeries, as well as quaint little cottages to look at. But, considering it was our local town, it is very small, therefore if you’re planning to visit make sure you plan something else for the afternoon. We did just that and found ourselves exploring a local Cider Farm and then onto said local pub for a Sunday Road, which was a great end to our first day.
Having the historic town of Glastonbury on our doorstep meant that it was high on our list of things to do. Despite coming to the West for many years, we’d never got round to visiting the magical town. Although famous for its Festival, Glastonbury is steeped in history; dating back to the 7th Century, and is probably one of the quirkiest towns in the UK.
As soon as we arrived, we were hit by the smell of incense and burning candles – even on the dreary day that we visited – and very quickly we learned that Glastonbury loves their reputation of Magic and Spirituality. The people are very proud of the town’s Myth and Legend, which is shown in number of shops housing various herbs and ingredients, as well as mystical wares.
After browsing the different shops and grabbing some lunch, we ended our day at Glastonbury Abbey. Again, not something we’ve managed to do previously, but we’re so glad we saved it for when T was with us.
As well as the history, the space was like a Tardis. From the High Street I had no idea how much it would open out into this gorgeous green space for T to run around and explore. As well as the main Abbey, Museum and surrounding green space, there were orchards and garden areas, as well as a Fish Pond. Kids (under 16) go free all year round, and it’s also welcoming to dogs as well!
Our first “proper” day out of the holiday was a trip to Wookey Hole – something you’ve probably seen advertised repeatedly if you’ve ever driven to Cornwall! Another excursion we decided to save for when we had a kid in tow, Wookey Hole is best known for being home to the largest showcaves in England.
As well as the Caves that date back to pre-historic times, Wookey Hole also boasts a Dinosaur Grove, Adventure Golf, and a quirky vintage arcade area named “The Mill”. Wookey Hole was such a pleasant surprise that we kinda wish we’d visited sooner! We’ll be writing more about our trip to Wookey Hole soon!
Just down the road from Wookey Hole is the City of Wells, therefore after finishing at Wookey Hole we decided on a quick detour. For those of you who are fans of the Cornetto Trilogy, or even Simon Pegg movies, you will know that Wells is famous for being the City as seen in the movie Hot Fuzz. Bursting with quaint local shops and cobbled streets, Wells is also home to Vicar’s close; which is one of the most picturesque and famous streets in England. There’s also Bishop’s Palace and Wells Cathedral – which gave the town its City status back in Medieval times. Outside of London, it is still the smallest city in England!
Cornetto’s aside, Wells is actually a gorgeous place to visit. There’s lots of things to see and do, and eat (our favourite foodie location was the flapjackery!). It is well worth a trip even if you’re not au fait with the movie.
Cheddar Gorge was next on our list for the week, and – for the first time – was somewhere we’d already visited on previous visits to Somerset! If you’re a family who love to walk and explore, Cheddar is most definitely somewhere you should visit. Reserve a whole day for Cheddar Gorge as there’s quite a bit to see and do!
Up high at the top of the gorge (via Jacob’s Ladder!) you’re met with breathtaking, scenic landscapes. Down below in the subterranean you’re greeted by jaw dropping, spectacular views of Cheddar’s showcaves; full to the brim with stalagmites, stalactites… and cheese. As well as history dating back to pre-historic times, Cheddar is also famous for its cave-aged cheddar cheese. This can be seen during your tour of Gough’s cave.
During our visit, we dedicated our time to visiting both sets of caves as well as climb Jacob’s ladder. Mainly so we didn’t knacker the boy out. We also wanted to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to browse the shops and the museum. Although we did do some walking at the top of the gorge, the entire walk takes a couple of hours through quite rough terrain. Therefore, we decided to walk until we found the legendary wild goats – which didn’t take long! Next time, though, we aim to tackle the gorge!
Thursday was probably the highlight of the week following a trip to Longleat. We’re absolutely amazed that we’d never visited before as a couple or a family. As well as being home to the TV-famous Longleat House and surrounding grounds, Longleat also boasts a Drive-through Safari and Wildlife Park. There’s also a Jungle Cruise, a Railway, a Hedgemaze, a number of play areas, plus so much more.
We arrived there as soon as it opened. But, even though we prioritised driving through the safari first thing, we still didn’t get to see everything. There is so much to do, I am not exaggerating that there aren’t enough hours in the day. During our visit, as well as the main attractions, we also briefly got to see their new feature for Winter; The Festival of Light. With this year celebrating a Roald Dahl theme. We squeezed this in towards the end of the day, which finished our visit off perfectly.
We’re going to be writing more about our visit to Longleat in a seperate post very soon, but know that this definitely won’t be the only time we visit Longleat. We had such a brilliant time. If you’re staying in Somerset, it’s between a 40-60 minute drive away.
For our last day in Somerset, we decided to cross the border into Wiltshire again and visit Stonehenge. Again, and quite surprisingly, another place on our list that we had yet to visit!
If you’ve travelled to Cornwall it’s likely you’ve driven past Stonehenge on the dreaded A303. It is often victim to bottle-neck queues as people slowdown to see the iconic stones. This time, however, we decided to pay the big guys a visit.
It’s unlikely you don’t know what Stonehenge is, therefore I won’t go into a history lesson, however for us it’s what’s on-site that surprised us the most. As well as the main feature, Stonehenge also boasts several walking routes that shares the history beyond the stones. For me, I didn’t know half the history about Stonehenge. For example, did you know there are several burial mounds dotted around the Stonehenge site?
What’s more is that the facilities on site are also really impressive. So much so, that we ended up staying there for the majority of the day. As well as sizeable car park, decent toilets and an excellent gift shop, there’s also a large cafe. Plus, a museum and exhibition hall. In terms of access, if you don’t want to walk the path to the stones, there’s a free shuttle bus. These take you from the main ticket area to the stones (and back again!); which run every couple of minutes! During our visit, we walked to the stones but then got the bus back.
We had such a lovely time at Stonehenge – it was the perfect way to end our holiday.
We’re delighted that we chose to give Somerset a go this Half Term. Not only was it the break we needed, but we got to tick off places we’ve been meaning to visit. It’s certainly given us food for thought in terms of visiting other locations within Somerset.
Next time, we might head in a different direction and head towards Bristol, Bath or even back to Devon!
If you’re local to Somerset, where should we go next? What are you recommendations?
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