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Points of Interest:  1. Bath  2. Wells  3. Cheddar Gorge  4. Mendip Hills  5. Wookey Hole  6. Glastonbury  7. Quantocks  8. Crowcombe  9. Holford  10. Nether Stowey  11. Taunton

 



Bath Royal CrescentBath (pop.90,200) in Somerset is one of those places you read about in novels when the socialites want the weekend off. This is especially popular in Victorian-era fiction when Bath was the equivalent of the Maldives. People went there to convalesce, to hobnob, to shop and to meet eligible rich people. Nowadays you can perform similar activities, but with better plumbing.

Bath is very nearly the perfect choice as a holiday location – it has loads of historical background, you can still do some shopping, there’s architecture to admire, festivals to go to and days to be spent at the baths. Unsurprisingly, millions of people come every year to do exactly that at Bath, so it would be wise to plan early. Not only is Bath all of the above, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its rich history and wealth of preserved architecture.

Bath Roman BathsThe baths were built by Roman invaders. Generally, Romans spent most of their times building forts and roads to go forth and invade whichever parts of Great Britain they had missed the first time around. But they were people, and needed somewhere to kick back and relax, just like anyone else. AT that point it was not called Bath. It was known as Aquae Sulis, from the main spring that was a shrine to the Celtic goddess Sulis. Like most colonial races, the Romans blithely integrated the mystic Sulis with their own Minerva and allowed the worship to continue. For some reason, people in those days would engrave tablets cursing other people when they were wronged and address it to Minerva, expecting some divine aide to return stolen clothes or irresponsible spouses. The Romans those days did things to a grand-scale, so after building the baths, they added on some sacred temples and even more baths. They even built a wall around it eventually, but it didn’t stop the decline of the civilization, and Aquae Sulis as well. Bath regained much of its former luster in the 17th century, during the Georgian obsession with luxury.

Roman Bath MuseumThe Roman Bath Museum is a must-see for those traveling to Bath. Witness to over a million visitors every year, it could be said that the Bath Museum is the reason why people go to Bath – aside from the shopping and Jane Austen, of course. Although the architecture surrounding the only hot spring in UK was built in a vastly different age than ours, it still remains awe-inspiring in its preservation. The museum houses a vast array of collections pertaining to that time in history; busts of Minerva Sulis, who gave her name to the Baths, gifts or curses etched in stone for the goddess, rings and gemstones that fell from the bejeweled fingers of the bath customers in ancient Roman times. Collections also consist of artifacts from nearby villages such as Bathford, and aside from being associated directly with the to-dos at the baths, they also dealt with the everyday lives of the Romans who lived in that area – and happened to leave a little bit of themselves at the baths.

Costumed characters dressed in Roman garb wander about, enhancing the atmosphere and creating photo opportunities. Audioguides are given out to visitors at the entrance, to make it easier to understand and appreciate the walk through around this ancient site. Visitors can throw coins and see if their wishes please the water goddess, and purchase books or other souvenirs at the bath’s in-house shop. If that isn’t enough for the inquisitive and possibly hungry traveler, there’s always the Grand Pump Room to sate both your historical and gastronomical appetites. Located in a Grade I listed building , the Pump Room offers morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea to visitors. Built in the 1800s by Thomas Baldwin, the building is made of Bath stone. On a less ancient note, live music at the Pump Room is brought to you by the Pump Room Trio.

Thermae Bath SpaAlthough visitors are not allowed to bathe at the original hot springs for good reason, they can always hop on over to the Thermae Bath Spa. Consisting of several floors of luxurious, relaxing goodness, this is where you must go to reward yourself for making it to Bath. Built as recently as 2006, the Thermae Spas are supplied by the same thermal springs that fill the Roman Baths, but without the old-fashioned lead-lined pipes. The ultra-modern complex houses two thermal baths and a steam room and offers a variety of packages for those who have come to pamper themselves or others.

For the literary lovers, the place to visit would be Bath’s Jane Austen Centre. Not to be confused with the Jane Austen House Museum in Alton, the Centre chronicles Austen’s illustrious times there. The wonderful preservation of the locale allows visitors to equate Austen’s Bath with what they see now – many parts of it has remained charmingly unchanged, and with the exhibition at the Centre as a guide, fans of Austen can begin to truly understand what it was that she saw when absorbing in the atmosphere that would eventually make its way into her books. Often called Bath’s most famous resident, she lived there from 1801 to 1806, and set her novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey in the sumptuous bustle of that era. The centre provides an audio tour and an exhibition, and every September there is a festival dedicated to Jane Austen for the enjoyment of her many, many fans.

 

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Hotel

        

To compare Bath hotel prices that are available right now simply enter your dates into the search box at the left.  You will see the best prices from the world's major hotel booking services.

 

Or you can check out our reviewed hotels below and contact them directly

A gorgeous five star hotel, The Royal Crescent Hotel [16 Royal Crescent, +44 1225 823333, from £195] truly provides that Bath experience associated with the wealthy Romans or society belles of old. Providing rooms as well as suites, use of the hotel spa is part of the package.

A lovely restored Georgian townhouse used in the 1995 BBC production of Persuasion,
Sir Walter Elliot’s House [95 Sydney Place, +44 1225 469 435, from £95] provides modern facilities like bathrooms and WiFis married with the old-fashioned charm of the Bath of yore.  

The Tasburgh House [Warminster Road, +44 1225 425 096, from £ 80.00] looks very much like a Gingerbread House would had it been made of brick. The interior of the rooms have a similar dreamy quality and come with a shower (or bath and shower) ensuite and free wireless.

Time to Relax [13 Gay Street, +44 7990 505625, day rates from £60 - £100].  A wonderful way to spend a holiday in Bath – renting a self-catering apartment in the city centre. The hall provides a widescreen tv and wireless broadband and the remaining two double     bedrooms have a bath and shower fitted bathroom.

 

 A family-run villa with 13 ensuite rooms, Ashley Villa [26, Newbridge Road, +44 1225 421683, from £65] provides a compact and economical experience in Bath. Fixed with modern amenities, the villa has free wireless access and a lounge and bar for those so inclined.

Brooks Guesthouse [1 Crescent Gardens, +44 1225 425543, from £79.00].  As a four star boutique hotel in an area where luxury is key, you can expect a blissful stay at Brooks with its sophisticatedly appointed rooms with ensuite bathrooms, goose down pillows and crisp cotton linen.

Dorian House [1 Upper Oldfield Park, +44 1225 426336, from £80] offers beautifully appointed room in a house mad of Bath stone at around 1880. Situated near the city centre, the rooms are ensuite and have individual décor, making each room a unique experience.

 

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Vicar's Row, Wells, CanterburyA micro experience with a full English flavour is what Wells (pop. 10,400) offers. The second smallest city in England is essentially a grown-up village with a population of less than 15,000. So for those who enjoy sleepy holidays with plenty of church visits and market visits, sweet old Wells is the place to go.

If you guessed that the name for this charming city came from its regular water wells would be correct. Like the church, there were wells there dedicated to St Andrews and these holy watering holes gave Wells its moniker. Having always had a holy tie to St Andrews, Wells is usually regarded first and foremost as a cathedral city, with a museum and a smaller church that complements the main cathedral.

Well's Cathedral naveWhat people come here to see is the Wells Cathedral. For such a small city, it houses one of the most beautiful and impressive religious buildings in Britain. The currently standing cathedral was built in the twelfth century, although construction for an earlier church had begun near the holy Wells site in the eight century. A magnificent sculptured monolith, the cathedral towers over visitors like a castle from one of King Arthur’s stories. Dwarfed by its gloriousness, just admiring the exterior of this Cathedral would be awe-inspiring enough, but visitors are welcomed inside the belly of this three-dimensional artwork.

Well's CathedralServices continue inside, and the Cathedral is host to other local events and concerts. The church houses fantastically carved figures from stories of the Bible, and in the north tower is a quirky clock where mechanical figures welcome each new hour.


Wells and Mendip Hills Museum exhibit

Next door to the cathedral is the interesting little Wells and Mendip Museum It houses fossils from the Mendip Hills as well as arechelogical artefacts from the Stone and Bronze ages, especially from excavations at the Wookey Hole caves.

Well's St CuthbertThe other church in the area is St Cuthbert’s Parish Church. Lesser known, but no less magnificent, if you’ve come to see holy architecture and be overwhelmed by the church ambience these two places of worship are the place to be. The currently standing church is in fact the third to bear its name and to stand on that location. It eventually flourished in the 15th century, when additions and renovations created the form that we are familiar with today. The beautifully sculptured nave, while two of the chapels have decorations behind the altar that are rich in history. St Cuthbert’s is open for worship, and if you are feeling a mite peckish, Cuthbert’s Kitchen provides drinks and light lunches. The church is also the centre for a week-long music festival, called Cuthbert’s Music Festival that all Wellsians mark on their calendar.

Bishop's Palace, Wells, SalisburyFitting with the theme of an English village, there is a medieval castle lurking to the South of the cathedral. Called the Bishop’s Palace, it is a wonderful old structure, full of the character that is associated with 13th century castles. Standing before its squat stonework, it is easy to imagine knight on their armoured horses issuing out from the mouth of the palace and heeding their king’s call.
 

 

 

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Hotel

        

To compare Wells hotel prices that are available right now simply enter your dates into the search box at the left.  You will see the best prices from the world's major hotel booking services.

 

Or you can check out our reviewed hotels below and contact them directly.

Baytree House Bed and Breakfast [85 Portway, +44 1749677933, from £62].  Situated near to the city centre and providing more than enough parking for visitors, Baytree is a charming old 1930s house. The bedrooms are ensuite, and the rooms include a full English or Continental breakfast.

The Ancient Gatehouse Hotel [20 Sadler Street, +44 1749672029, from £90].  The location of this hotel is reason enough to stay there – it’s situated on the Wells Cathedral Green, allowing lucky guests a direct view of the cathedral from their windows. Prices include a full English breakfast.

The White Hart Hotel [Sadler Street, +44 1749672056, from £85.00] is the place to go if you’re looking for accommodation in the city centre. This 15th century building has its own restaurant, and the rooms are ensuite.

Beltane Bed and Breakfast [Dulcote, +44 1749671040, from £50].  Located at the edge of Wells city, Beltane is a cozy B&B that offers a laidback layout and encourages guests to venture around the countryside with packed lunches. All rooms are ensuite and have breakfast provided.

Henley Hill Farm [Haybridge, +44 1749675063, £30 to £50 per night].  Located nearer to the Mendip Hills than Wells city proper, Henley offers accommodation for up to two adults. The double room is situated in a private annexe with an ensuite shower.

Beaconsfield Farm Bed and Breakfast [Easton, +44 1749870308, from £36].  A farmhouse with ample grounds best describes Beaconsfield. It is several miles away from most of Wells’ attractions, making it an ideal if slightly isolated, base.

 

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Glastonbury AbbeyWho hasn’t heard of Glastonbury (pop. 8,500) – platform of rockstars and music that lasts the ages, with a penchant for new age philosophers? No doubt the Festival is the big attraction for those who visit Glastonbury, but there are other gems there that last all year round. It’s also a place that’s rich in myth and legend, making it an irresistible combination of magic – both ancient and modern.


Glastonbury started out as a primitive village until the Celts came and built a monastery there. From then on, the fate of Glastonbury was tied to the rise and fall off the religions who called the monastery, and eventually abbey their own. Later it became a center of industry and commerce, and then a tourist hotspot in modern day.

Glastonbury’s rich history is intertwined in its foremost landmark, the Glastonbury Tor. Rising like the platform of a faery god  in the Summerland Meadows, the Tor represents Glastonbury’s link with Arthurian legends, fuelling stories that this was the Isle of Avalon from ancient lore. The roofless ruin of St Micheal’s Church lends a commanding air to the Tor’s silhouette when viewed from afar, and adds to the whirlwind of romance, religion and ruin that surround Glastonbury’s legends.

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury TorThe Tor’s legends range from those of the faery people, the celtic druids and the stories of King Arthur. Why has one place become such a magnet for the mystical and mysterious? To be honest, one can’t really know until you go there and see for yourself. Visitors have said that it is a place of deep spiritual presence – others have said it just has a fantastic view. Once there, you may not get an otherwordly welcome, but maybe that’s a good thing. At the very top of the Tor is the Tower of St Micheal – a gothic old photo opportunity to the more modern tourists. In summer, there is a bus service that runs from the Glastonbury Abbey to the foot of the Tor for easier access.

Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury AbbeyGlastonbury Abbey has been said to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea, boosting this legendary character’s association to Glastonbury. Historically though, the base of the abbey was set up by the Saxon King Ine around the 7th century. The Norman invasion caused the expulsion of the Saxons, but brought extensive expansions to the stone abbey until a great fire in 1184. This did not stop the monks from worshipping there, and about 50 years later, a new church was built. The Abbey at Glastonbury was considered one of the wealthiest for a long time, but after the reign of King Henry VII, the Catholic monasteries were all but wiped out. Fortunately, the prestige and awe that the abbey once inspired can still be seen from the ruins left today. Tickets for entrance to the Abbey can be bought online or at the Abbey itself.

Glastonbury Festivals
Glastonbury FestivalPerhaps one of the most amazing festivals you could ever attend is the Glastonbury Festival. Every year since 1970, people from all over the world have gathered for one of the biggest outdoor music and arts festival in the world. What makes Glastonbury different from other festivals is that it’s set up on an open field and visitors are encouraged to think of it as a place for like-minded free spirits to get together and have a good time. There are several areas to cater to the many tastes, now with a jazz stage and an area for kids as well. Most of the main acts though, are directed towards contemporary music. Those who are interested in attending the music festivals have to get their tickets as early as six months before – they are usually sold out within a few months! Because of the size of the area needed, getting to the festival may be a bit of a trek. But once there, the awesome time you will have is totally worth it!

Architecture
Once you are in Glastonbury, whether you have some time after the Festival or want something to do after visiting the Tor and the Abbey, take a walk around and admire the architecture. Some if it dates back to the time of Joseph of Arimathea, and have interesting stories behind them. If you have the time, check out the Chalice Well on Chilkwell Street, the churches of St Margaret, St John and St Benedict, and the Town Hall from the 1800s that is still in use today.

 

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To compare Glastonbury hotel prices that are available right now simply enter your dates into the search box at the left.  You will see the best prices from the world's major hotel booking services.

 

Or you can check out our reviewed hotels below and contact them directly

Melrose House [Coursing Batch, +44 1458 834706, from £40].  A cutely-named 18th Century Georgian House with several rooms that is located close to many of the visitor’s attractions in Glastonbury. The ensuite rooms offer spectacular views and the breakfast area is a lovely place to just sit down and have a cup of tea.  

Staying at
Heaphys [16 Market Place, +44 1458 837935, from £70.00] is an experience in itself. The downstairs is a warm and homey café, while the hotel proper is situated in the three floors above. A lovely Victorian building in the Market Square of Glastonbury, there are four ensuite rooms and breakfast can be taken at their hotel café, or the vegetarian café across the road that is also owned by Heaphys.

Flying Dragon’s Nest [12 Hexton Road,
+44 1458-830321, from £350 per week].  The Dragon’s Nest are self-catering apartments for the more independent guests who may be staying for a longer vacation with family. Situated near the town centre, the apartments here sleep four and provide a fully-equipped kitchen, a living area, dining area and showers. The staff are also helpful if you need to ask questions about what to do when you’re in Glastonbury.
 
A laidback B & B situated near the central district of Glastonbury,
Apple [25 Norbins Road, +44 1458 834547, from £35] provides three guest bedrooms, one of which is ensuite and the others which share a deluxe power shower. There is free Wi-Fi access in every room.

 

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QuantockheatherOne of the Areas of Outstanding Beauty in England, The Quantocks are a series of hills that measure nearly 15 miles, between Quantoxhead in the north west to Kingston St Mary in the south east. For some, a bunch of hills may not be particularly impressive. But the Quantocks are definitely something else when it comes to hills. It offers varied areas of woodland, heathland, forests, valleys and farmlands throughout its range, providing for a spectacular day spent outdoors exploring its richness and beauty.

Quantocks walk
Aside from walks and tours that can be taken along the footpaths, other activities are up for offer in the Quantocks. There are activity centres and mountain biking for the whole family, riding and angling for the countryside enthusiast, and tours of the Cothelstone Manor and the Walled Gardens of Cannington to be taken.

 

 

Crowcombe
Crowcombe thatched housesA small village nestled in the south-west of the Quantocks, Crowcombe is known for its charming architecture and English ambience. Retaining rustic charm since its inception in the 9th century with very few aspects of modernization, Crowcombe is worth a stop just to enjoy the feeling of an inherently English village.


Some of the gorgeous buildings that should be visited are Crowcombe Court, a Grade I listed country house; the Church of the Holy Ghost, a 13th century church; the Church House; Halsway Manor, which serves as the National Centre for Traditional Music, Dance and Song; and the old railway station.


Holford
Yet another bubble of quintessential English countryside clinging to the edges of the Quantocks, Holford is a tiny village whose claim to fame was as a one-time location for a Huguenot silk factory.
Despite its utter Englishness, the village had been inhabited since the Iron Age, and relics of its Roman occupation can still be seen. If you take a walk around Holford, be sure to stop by the church of St Mary the Virgin and enjoy the natural greenery of Holford’s Combes.


Nether Stowey
Nether Stowey pubOne-time home of the poet Coleridge, Nether Stowey is also the starting point for the Coleridge Way, a path in the footsteps of avid walker Coleridge. The Way itself should be done over a period of four days.

Coleridge Cottage is situated here, along with a few other buildings worth a look while taking a walkabout, namely the Castle Mount, the Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Clock Tower.

Coleridge Cottage
Although named for its most famous resident, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the cottage itself had been built about a century before he had chosen to make his home there, circa the 17th century.
The house as a whole is not open to public viewing, but several rooms of this grade II listed building, such as the rooms on the second floor, are open to visitors for a small fee of £ 4.00.

Taunton 
Taunton’s biggest attraction is its rich history – so much so that in light of its reputation as a centre of English historical wealth, restorations and regenerations are being done to the county.
Taunton has the usual bustle of a market town, although on a slightly larger scale. Shopping and visiting interesting locations around town are the main pastimes should you choose to spend a holiday here.
Some of the places to see are the Tower of St Mary, the Somerset County Museum at the Taunton Castle, and Gray’s Almhouses, while shopping can be taken care of at orchard, County Walk and Crown Walk.

 

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Lynton
A small Victorian town in Devon, Lynton is best known for its breathtaking scenery and gorgeous landscapes. Located by the North Devon coastline and within the Exmoor National Park, you know that the views definitely will not disappoint. Beneath Lynton lies Lynmouth, a harbour village with an exceptional beach suitable for single unbathing or family outings.

Aside from that, once outdoors, visitors can then choose to explore the pristine Exmoor National Park right on the doorstep of the villages, and after that take a look around Doone Valley, home of Lorna Doone and get acquainted with Ragged Jack and the Devil’s Cheesewring, members of the Valley of the Rocks through which area the original flow of River Lyn is said to have made it’s way.


A short drive from Lynton brings you to Arlington Court, a 19th century mansion that is home to the National Trust Carriage Museum and a display of many gorgeous old carriages. Another intriguing place is the Watersmeet House, located at the bottom of the picturesque Glen Lyn Gorge. Serving as an information centre and tea room, Watersmeet is owned by the National Trust.


When talking about Lynton and Lynmouth, one must certainly mention the railways; the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway and the Lynton and Barnstaple narrow gauge steam railway. The Cliff Railway links the two towns, working its way between Lynmouth on the coast and Lynton in it seat 500 feet above it. From Lynton, you can make your way to Woody Bay Station where the Steam Railway begins its trek. The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway is funded by a charity of enthusiasts who work to bring the most authentic steam railway experience possible. 

Dulverton
Dulverton is considered a gateway town, situated as it is at the border of Devon and the beginnings of the south end of the Exmoor National Park. It started out as a royal manor, and many of the houses that stand now have a rich architectural heritage.

Aside from being a suitable location to begin a trek through the Exmoor National Park as the headquarters of the Park Authority is situated there, Dulverton itself is home to the Dulverton Nationals Park that encompasses the surrounding area, some of which are Sites of Specific Scientific Interest.
Several places of interest within the town itself are the old religious buildings. The Church of All Saints, situated in Bank Square is a Grade II listed building that still has parts from its 15th century construction, while the Congregational Church on Chapel Street has buildings from the 19th century. For those literary documenters, there is a statue of Lorna Doone on a meadow in the park, commemorating the mention of Dulverton in the eponymous novel.

Because of its amazing scenery, Dulverton is an excellent starting point for walks and tours. There are riverside paths, tours through the Iron Age forts and moorlands for a walkabout. Sporting activities abound here of course, and those with a taste for adventure can go kayaking, mountain biking or horse riding.