Location guide: Somerset attractions
Like any popular county in England, Somerset has its fair share of attractions and it can be hard to know where best to head for. We’ve chosen two of our favourite places, that feature a range of activities for all tastes and, along with that, a lovely walk for those who like to stretch their leg …
Wookey Hole Cave and Attractions
Deep in the Mendip Hills, you’ll find England’s largest cave system, Wookey Hole. The caves have various chambers that you can explore (with the help of one of their knowledgeable guides). What we love most about these caves is the subterranean lakes and pools, adding an extra air of mystery to this spellbinding place. An attraction for all ages, Wookey Hole is more than just caves, though. There’s adventure golf, animatronic dinosaurs, a cave museum, a circus show, a mirror maze and also a penny arcade. After all that excitement you can take a woodland walk or, if you want adrenaline adventure, then you can take on ‘Wild Wookey’ – three hours of challenging and exhilarating moments in the cave system, including Via Ferrata, abseiling.
Images: Above left: Wookey Hole Caves. Above right: Cheddar Gorge (Pixabay).
Cheddar Gorge and Caves
An iconic and spectacular landscape, Cheddar Gorge is certainly one for the walkers. The dramatic cliffs rise over 137m, and the energetic among you can climb to those dizzy heights by way of Jacob’s Ladder – 274 steps to the top of the gorge. Once there, you are rewarded with stunning views across the countryside and those who are keen to go a little higher can then climb another 48 steps to the top of the lookout tower. The top of the gorge is a great place for a picnic on a warm day and there are paths along the top of the gorge to enjoy.
For a less strenuous walk, why not peruse the shops and attractions of Cheddar’s main street? These include cafés, gift shops and, of course, shops selling cheese! You can hop on an open-top bus for a tour of the gorge and, for those who fancy a subterranean adventure, why not explore Gough’s Cave and even book yourself onto an adventure caving experience to venture deeper underground!
Ebbor Gorge Walk
On the southwestern slopes of the Mendip Hills, close to Wookey Hole village and offering excellent views over the Somerset Levels, this walk is a dream for naturalists. The Ebbor Gorge Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and blessed with super scenery, plants and wildlife.
The four-mile walk begins at the car park of Wookey Hole Caves (parking here is only for visitors to Wookey Hole but you can park on the roadside in the village). The first section takes you along a main road, past a pub, church and houses. It’s not long before you leave the built-up area behind and find yourself deep in tranquil Somerset countryside. As you leave the village, take the footpath on the left signposted to Wells and start heading uphill. The path here will take you through several fields. The next section is all uphill as you climb towards the gorge. When you reach the nature reserve, an information board shows the course of the public footpath as well as the three walking routes of varying difficulty, including one that is wheelchair-friendly.
The land at Ebbor Gorge was donated to the National Trust in 1967, in memory of Winston Churchill. On a good day, the views from the top are magnificent. Looking south you should be able to see the distinctive dome of Glastonbury Tor as it rises from the Somerset Levels. Once you’ve finished enjoying the view (and maybe a well-earned cuppa and sandwich), follow the footpath downhill through the woodland, which is rich in flora and wildlife, including rare butterflies. Keep on the path until you join the main road and head back to the car park. Treat yourself to a drink at the Wookey Hole Inn, perhaps.