I wanted to get to Longleat around lunchtime, so we set off from Buckinghamshire on Friday morning. The drive was going really well, despite my nerves, until we got diverted as we got closer to Stonehenge. The Ministry of Defense was doing some sort of training thing, so I ended up having to drive through various housing estates to get around the road blocks. It worked out quite well though because I got to drive through some really nice country roads where you could see miles and miles of countryside in all directions.
Once we got to Longleat, we started off with the hedge maze, which is the largest of its kind in the UK. Apparently it takes people 42 minutes, on average, to reach the centre. Seeing this, Quill decided to time us and we ended up completing the maze in 6 minutes. We’re so good. After bragging and gloating a little bit, we went off to see the small animals and the insects. Highlights include watching a butterly hatch out of its cocoon, and Quill trying to get me to hold a tarantula called Amber. I obviously bailed on that.
Next was the boat trip, during which we got to see the lone gorilla on his island, a couple of hippos, and some very greedy sea lions.
Then, after walking around the gardens and spending a while in the bat cave, we finally got onto the safari! I was a little nervous about driving around all of the animals, but obviously they are used to the traffic and they weren’t bothered at all. I actually loved being surrounded by camels, and having a deer almost stick its head in the car.
The lions were one of the highlights of the tour, as there were some pretty young ones in there that were quite playful. We saw a zookeeper try to stop two of them from escaping through the gates. We only caught glimpses of the cheetahs, tigers, and wolves, which was a shame. They were all resting as we were driving through!
After that, it was time to drive to Wedmore, where we were staying. We drove through Wells to get there and saw a tiny amount of the town, and after winding through various tiny villages and hamlets, we reached the cottage.
Magnolia Cottage is a barn conversion, and it’s the most relaxing place to stay. The bedroom, kitchen, and living room are all in one, and then there’s a separate bathroom. The cottage is on a farm, which means it’s really peaceful, and we were pretty much left alone.
On the second day of our trip, we visited Cheddar Gorge, where we spent the day hiking. I stupidly didn’t check the weather before we left, and ended up getting sunburnt, but thankfully it was only a tiny bit red.
Tip: To save money on parking, find a quiet residential street further away from the high street and walk to the gorge from there. I parked about five minutes away for free!
We started off the hike by climbing up Jacob’s Ladder, which has NUMBER steps. It was exhausting, trust me. We got to the top of the lookout tower and quickly went back down because it was really quite high and it didn’t seem very secure. Then we hiked up the gorge, back down, then back up the other side again. It was 5.1 kilometres in total, although I don’t think it felt that far. It was a really nice walk, and I’d definitely go back to Cheddar to do it again.
We then spent about an hour in Gough’s Cave, which was quite interested to stroll around using the audioguide, which was included in the price of the ticket.
Tip: If you only want to go for a hike around the gorge, don’t bother buying a Cheddar Gorge ticket. You can enter the public footpath on both sides from the main road. The ticket is mostly for the tourist attractions, like the caves and the museum.
For dinner, we went to Table 8 in Wedmore, which is the best Indian I’ve had in a while. Service was a little slow, but Wedmore is a tiny village and you kind of expect a slow but friendly service!
We had a long hike planned for our third day, which would have been about 13 miles in total. We wanted to go from Wedmore to Wookey Hole and back around again. However, we hit a stumbling block just over an hour in, as the bridge across the huge river had collapsed, and we couldn’t detour around the corn fields because the paths were so unkempt. We decided to turn back instead of struggling to find another way through, which was a shame because I wanted to see the caves in Wookey Hole, but I guess I can always go back. We did get to see some baby cows though, so it was all worth it.
We had lunch at The George in Wedmore, which was a lovely little pub. I loved the atmosphere, and the fact that there were three local dogs there made it even better. If you go, get their cheesy fries. So. Much. Cheese. We walked around town a little bit before walking back to our cottage to chill out before dinner.
Later that evening, we drove back down to Wedmore (we parked near the church, and there were tonnes of spaces) for dinner at The Swan. This was expensive, and the food wasn’t all that impressive, but it was enjoyable. I particularly liked the live music and the dancing locals!
We woke up early Monday morning to watch the Game of Thrones finale, which was epic and so worth it. I refused to do anything until we had seen it, because I was so excited! Afterwards, we went back off to Cheddar to do something I’ve been wanting to do for ages – caving!
We had booked our tickets on Saturday via the main tourist office at Cheddar. For £22 each we were able to do an hour and a half (roughly) of caving with a guide and a small group of other people. I was an odd mixture of nervous and excited, because while I had been wanting to do this for ages, I had no idea what to expect. The experience kicked off with a safety briefing where we were fitted with all of the correct gear and shown how to use our lights, and then we set off.
I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Over the next hour and a half or so we were able to do all sorts of things, like climb down really tall ladders, crawl over and under rocks, squeeze through really tight spaces, and very carefully crawl over a bottomless pit. At one point we all turned our lights off, and we got to experience the cave in complete darkness. It was kind of weird, and I’m pretty sure my mind started playing tricks on me.
I loved the whole thing, and I’d definitely want to do something like that again, although maybe not in the same set of caves. And despite thinking he wasn’t going to, Quill ended up really enjoying it too!
Tip: Wear long sleeves for caving, as your arms will likely get scratched and bruised if you’re anything like me. But make sure your clothes are comfortable, because you’ll need the flexibility!
The rest of the trip was spent relaxing, which is something I desperately needed after a few stressful weeks at work. It was probably the best holiday I have ever been on, and I am dying to go back to Somerset already. I think next time I’d like to visit Bath, Wookey, and Wells, because we didn’t get to see any of those places this time around. Luckily, I only live two and a half hours away!