Somerset is one of the UK’s most stunning counties, with rolling hills and a long tradition of fine food produce. It’s easily reached by train or car from London in one and a half hours. That’s just as well, because you wouldn’t want to miss the delights of Bath, Wookey Hole and Caves, Cheddar Gorge and Wells. We’ve put together a Somerset weekend guide to help you make the most of your stay.
Somerset’s main town is one of the most beautiful in the UK, with honey-coloured Georgian buildings galore, a huge array of independent stores and some top tourist attractions. No visit to Bath would be complete without a visit to the Roman Baths, so let’s start our exploration there…The Romans loved Bath as much as I do, and built this temple in 60-70 AD at the source of natural hot springs. The Baths and the Grand Pump Room attract more than a million visitors each year. Minerva’s Head is one of the major finds in the Roman Baths museum. Discovered in 1727. she is all that remains of a bronze statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva.
After visiting the Roman Baths, pop into the Pump Rooms – a drink of the hot spring water is included in the price of admission to the baths. The water which actually doesn’t taste as bad as I remembered from my last trip to Bath, when I visited the Roman Baths by night.
Bath Abbey or the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, to give it its full title is a former Benedictine monastery and Anglican parish church .
This new installation in front of the SouthGate Shopping Centre is a contender for most Instagrammable city attraction – along with the Roman Baths and the Royal Crescent, of course!
Bath Fashion Museum is well worth a visit, it’s one of the most important fashion museums in the world and has the added benefit of letting you try some of the costumes on 😉
The Royal Crescent is one of Bath’s most iconic sights, and parts of it are currently being renovated yet it’s still very impressive.
No. 1 Royal Crescent is a must-visit, a historic house museum depicting life in Georgian England. Not only are the interiors charming, but the volunteers in each room are a mine of information about life below and above stairs.
It started pouring with rain soon after our visit, so we took refuge in the nearest tea room which turned out to be rather unique. The owner of Comins Tea House really knows his stuff and has designed a special table where you can pour away any excess hot water.
WOOKEY HOLE AND CAVES
The UK’s oldest tourist attraction and largest cave system, Wookey Hole, is somewhat kitsch but great fun! Before you even enter the attraction, you’ll meet a moving dinosaur that was making children giggle.
Four hundred years ago, cheese was matured in the caves as the 11°C temperature was ideal. The owner of Wookey Hole Caves, Gerry Cottle, who previously owned Britain’s major circus, has now revived this tradition. The caves have been in use for over 45,000 years and were the site of the first cave dive in the country, by Jack Sheppard and Graham Balcombe in 1935.
We wore hard hats for part of the tour, although there was no danger. It did add to the sense of excitement.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Cheddar Gorge was composed entirely of cheese? Sadly, that’s not the case, although there are a couple of good Cheddar cheese shops in the picturesque village ;-). However it’s another really impressive sight, and a great base for hiking.
This limestone gorge is where Britain’s most complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man was discovered in 1903. He was around 9,000 years old. Sadly we didn’t have time to explore the caves and the gorge in depth but I’d love to hear any tips that you have as we’ll definitely return. We did catch sight of some rather cute mountain goats though!
Wells is a lovely little market town with a striking Gothic Cathedral. Its facade has over three hundred sculpted figures.
The Bishop’s Palace is next to the cathedral and was constructed from 1210 onwards. The current bishop still lives here.
You might be lucky to chance upon a group of Morris dancers as we did. For those not familiar with this very British tradition, it’s a type of folk dancing, originally dating from the Middle Ages. Check out their nifty moves in this video:
Ston Easton Park is a stunning country house hotel with a relaxed feel and it’s own spaniel, Oscar, whom guests can take for a walk. It’s a great base for exploring this beautiful county. I hope you like my tips for what to see and do in Somerset, have you ever been there?