So when you have seen the Cheddar Gorge and Caves is that all there is to
enjoy in this part of rural Somerset?
Not at all! There is plenty for the whole family to see and do.
If you have kids, the seaside is always a popular place to go. Cheddar Gorge lies about eight miles from the coast and the towns of Weston-Super-Mare and Burnham-On-Sea.
Weston is the larger of the two places and with a pier, a "Big Wheel" and the usual amusement arcades, is the busier. The beach is large and sandy and safe for children. But the tide does tend to go out a long way and the swimming isn`t great but the paddling is! Burnham is quieter and popular with older people.
The Dramatic West Front Of Wells Cathedral
In the opposite direction to Weston-Super-Mare and only a fifteen minute
drive from Cheddar is one of the best kept secrets in Britain.
This is the medieval City of Wells.
Wells is the smallest city in England but has one of the country`s most impressive cathedrals. Packed with history, interest and beauty the cathedral has many unique architectural features.
Among many other things it boasts the second oldest clock in the country. Within a few yards of the Cathedral is the Vicars Close which is the oldest continually lived in street in Europe.
The Moat Around The Bishops Palace At Wells
Everything in this amazing compact little city is only a short stroll from the Cathedral.
Something that is unmissable is the Bishops Palace. It is surrounded by a wide moat and the swans that swim there have been trained to pull a bell rope to be fed.
Visit Wells on a Wednesday or a Saturday. On those days the car is banned from the Market Place and dozens of colourful stalls crowd the area selling all sorts of interesting things.
The noise and the bustle is good humoured, old fashioned and great fun to experience.
Only a mile from Wells is the quaintly named village of Wookey Hole. This is a mini Cheddar Gorge. Caves have been cut into the limestone rocks in the same way as at Cheddar.
The caves are open to the public and are now owned by a circus family. There are a number of attractions here with a circus theme, such as The Big Top Restaurant. Kids will love this place.
South of Cheddar Gorge and caves the Somerset countryside changes and takes on a whole different look. It is an area unique in the British Isles and full of wildlife and interesting birds.
This is, of course, The Somerset Levels. Hundreds of years ago this was an inland sea. Now this low lying area is crossed by countless drainage ditches and there are lakes where peat has been cut out.
The Unique Somerset Levels (Photo by Me`nthedogs)
The Somerset Levels are famous for two events in English history. It was near the village of Athelney that King Alfred of Wessex is alledged to have burnt the cakes. (you may have to look that one up! I learnt about it when I was a kid!) Nearby at Sedgemoor, the last battle to be fought on English soil took place in 1685 between the Duke of Monmouth`s rebels and the Kings army. It was after this battle that the notorious Judge Jeffries held the Bloody Assizes and numerous rebels were hanged. There is a memorial stone to the battle near the village of Weston Zoyland.
Overlooking The Levels, and visible for many miles is the landmark of Glastonbury Tor and nestling at its foot is the town of Glastonbury. Due to the large Abbey that is now only ruins, this was once one of the wealthiest towns in the whole of England. It is inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur and his knights. Here in the ruins of the once great Abbey lies the supposed grave of this great king.
Glastonbury Tor Rising Above The Early Morning Mist (Photo by Aim Low, Play Bass)
Nowadays Glastonbury is probably more famous for hosting the largest music festival in the world.
Every June a quarter of a million people arrive to work at or enjoy three days of non-stop music. Perversly the "Glastonbury Festival" takes place not in Glastonbury but at a little village four miles away!
To the north of Cheddar Gorge the land couldn`t be more different to that
found in the south. Here there are the rolling Mendip Hills where you
will find quaint Somerset villages and lanes winding between high hedgerows.
There are two, large, beautiful lakes here, one at Blagdon and the other at Chew Valley. Both are renowned for their fishing.
The Famous Royal Crescent In Bath
Further to the north, yet still only a few miles from Cheddar Gorge are two cities. These are Bristol and Bath.
I won`t list their many attractions but Bath especially is a fascinating place to spend a day. It is, of course, a famous Spa town dating back to Roman times and its ancient hot water baths are still open to the public. There is also some incredible Georgian architecture.
So you can see not only does Cheddar have the gorge and caves but this area is full of attractions for the Somerset tourist.