I’ve been in England for nearly two months and I’ve already visited one place twice, and it’s most likely a place that most people have never heard of, Somerset. Located in South West England with more well known cities like Bristol and Bath, Somerset is also home to a tiny, dare I say village/town & one of my closest friends. Meeting in New Zealand 3 years ago, Jo & I quickly became great friends & it didn't take me too long to get in a visit to her neck of the woods. This was a weekend to celebrate her birthday (early) and one last visit (insert super crying face here) before she jets off to our home away from home, Auckland & we weren't about to let some terrible (but classic English) weather stop us. So over 3 days, dodging the rain,& soaking in a whole day of surprise sunshine I managed to see some incredible spots to share with all of you! Here are my must see’s for your trip to Somerset, because even if you’ve never heard of it you’ll be jumping on the old Google box tonight finding out how best to get there for your next trip to England!
Cheddar Gorge - Hands up if you love cheese? Okay, so that’s everyone right? Well then you best get your cheese obsessed behind over to Cheddar then & revel in the birthplace of your beloved cheddar cheese. Yep! Cheddar is the literal birth place of the cheese with the same name, and if that hasn’t sold you the views here are slightly Avatar-esque. The gorge is where you’ll drive through in order to find the quaint little village & multiple cheese shops. We drove down from Shepton Mallet, and then made a return up through the gorge to make sure we got the best views. Limestone cliffs surround you to every side, and for those a bit more adventurous there are incredible places along the way to get some rock climbing in. Whether you’re just passing through or wanting to get your leg day in at Jacob’s Ladder (something I’m definitely going back to do) you won't be disappointed with the views.
Wells Cathedral - Noted as “one of the most poetic of the English Cathedrals” (whatever that might mean) this stunning building was built between 1175 - 1490 in the picturesque village of Wells and dedicated to the the Apostle Andrew. An Anglican cathedral sitting in the centre of town surround by lush gardens & the equally impressive Bishop’s Palace we arrived here late in the evening after a day of rain & lucked out having the entire grounds to ourselves. If you’re there during the day/opening hours you’ll be able to have a wander through the actual cathedral itself for a donation (of your choosing). We were there after closing but just being able to experience the surrounding area was more than enough to leave me very impressed.
Glastonbury - Yes, I mean the infamous festival here in the UK. But you’re right in saying “Well Laura didn’t that happen already?” Sadly I missed out on this week of amazing music & being able to meet Ed Sheeran, make him fall in love with me & then get married, but that heartache was eased by the fact that we sneakily got a glimpse of the grounds & the Pyramid Stage in all her glory still up on a whim of a drive down an un-gated country lane. Definitely a highlight to anyone’s trip to Somerset, even more so when the festival is on (plan for June 2019 for the next one, they rest the festival grounds every 5 years).
Glastonbury Tor/Village - Don’t let the previous must see fool you, Glastonbury festival isn’t actually held in the village of Glastonbury (festival is in Pilton) but this hippie loving village is home to everything you might need to get festival ready & an epic view point at the top of a hill. The lanes of Glastonbury are lined with tarot card readers, crystal shops & some very interesting residents, where “anything goes” or so I was told before getting out of the car. Once you’ve had your fill, I definitely suggest heading up to Glastonbury Tor. While parking might be a bit of a struggle (first come first serve) you’ll be glad you did those laps when you arrive at the top. Less than 20 minutes past some resident sheep & incredible views across Shepton Mallet up a cone shaped mount topped with an impressive tower (St-Michael’s Tower, minus the roof). Hold on to your hats up here as it can be pretty windy, and be sure to try & spot Wells Cathedral from the top all while soaking in Sunset (the time of day I’d suggest heading up there).
Durdle Door - While 2/3 of my days in Somerset brought mostly rain (thanks England for showing me your true summer colours..) the one day we wanted sun the most was the day we had a big ticket, bucket list item of mine to head off to. So as we set off from Shepton Mallet towards Dorset & the sun was shining on our faces we knew we were in for an epic day, and we had just that. Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast near Luluworth Cove, open to the public but privately owned. I had first seen/heard of Durdle Door thanks to the joyous app you may have heard of..Instagram a few years go & knew that I needed to see it for myself to really believe it existed. Once you park up, it’s a quick walk down the hill where you’ll get your first glimpse of what awaits, Man O’ War Bay is on your left and with a quick pan to your right you’ll be left (hopefully) just as impressed as I was. The ocean looking basically tropical, and the sun shining at just the right angle made seeing this for the first time well worth the wait all these years. There are a few walks around the beach so you’ll be able to get some insane views (aka insanely steep hill to be climbed to get there) of the Door & out to Lulworth Cove.
My time in England has been full of surprises and I’ve been lucky to have explored so many places that I’d never heard of before now. Every new place I’ve been so far I’ve been so excited to share with all of you & hearing your comments like “wow I never knew England could look like this” or “I’m a born and raised Brit & never heard of this place” makes me even more excited to explore more of the places I’ve never heard of. There are hidden gems all over England, and while I love London (so I’ve told you after just 36 hours) there is so so much more to the UK than that city.