The Glastonbury Festival is not the only great thing about the town of Glastobury, there is also the Tor and Abbey as well which are well worth a trip if you want to indulge in a bit of west country history.
When the Aussie visited me in the UK in 2011 we did a bit of a UK road trip which included Glastonbury and I think its fair to say he really enjoyed his visit to Glastonbury.
Glastonbury Abbey is situated on 36 acres of beautiful land. It is one of England’s earliest Abbeys and is a really interesting place to visit because of the history involved.
You can read about the history of the Abbey here. It is said that King Arthur is buried at the Abbey and it is believed that there is a connection to Avalon at the Abbey as well.
The old kitchen still exists in the grounds but much of the actual Abbey is now in ruins as you will see from my pictures. Even from the ruins though you can see how big and impressive the Abbey would have been.
I think that every time I have visited the Abbey it has been raining which is always interesting when there is no roof but it didn’t dampen the visit 😉 and I still found it really interesting to wander around. The grounds are also very nicely maintained so worth spending the time to take a stroll through.
The Tor is full of history and according to the National Trust, excavations at the top of the Tor have revealed the plans of two superimposed churches of St Michael, of which only a 15th-century tower remains. Glastonbury Tor is known as being one of the most spiritual sites in the country. Its pagan beliefs are still very much celebrated.
When I was at primary school I remember visiting and walking all the way up to the top of the Tor which is 525ft high. Once you reach the top of the Tor, you will on a good day have views of beautiful Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales.
Historically Abbot Richard Whiting was executed here in 1549 on the orders of Thomas Cromwell, the first Earl of Essex.
As I will shortly returning to Darwin this is the end of my Somerset series but if you are ever in the UK and get the opportunity you really should pay Somerset a visit!
I am maybe a bit of a geek but I always enjoy a trip on the West Somerset Railway which runs steam and diesel trains from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. My Dad also loves these trips so his birthday is always a great excuse for a trip!
A trip on the railway is always good inspiration for my photography especially with the views of the Quantocks as you fly by on the train.
The train stops at a few different places along the West Somerset Coast and one place that is always worth a trip is Dunster Castle.
Dunster Castle is a National Trust property so if you are a member of the National Trust you can visit for free but even if you aren’t a member it’s not too expensive to visit and it is a castle after all!
There is 1,000 years of history at the castle. The last family to live here, the Luttrells, moved in in 1376 and out in 1976, and changed a medieval stronghold into a comfortable family home.
The village of Dunster is also a lovely place to have a wander through with its cobblestone streets and quaint little cottages and shops.
Then at the end of the track you reach Minehead. Minehead is a popular tourist destination for people all round the UK.
I love Minehead for its little shops along the high street, being by the sea and going for a walk along the seafront, especially if you stop off with some fish and chips or locally made ice cream!
I remember visiting Minehead for lunch with my parents after passing my law degree 11 years ago in 2003 and sitting on the beach enjoying some freshly cooked fish and chips. It’s funny how much things have changed since then and it’s a very special place for me to visit with my family.
If you have ever watched Bryan Adams video for Everything I Do which was featured in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves you might know that it spent 16 consecutive weeks at number one in the UK singles chart. What you may not know is that the music video was partly filmed in and around Kilve in Somerset.
Kilve can be found in the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The Quantocks are just absolutely stunning and I remember spending many a Sunday afternoon walking around and exploring the Quantocks with my parents and brother as a child.
The village of Kilve is made up of three settlements including an old Chantry, founded in 1329 and once used for storing barrels of spirits smuggled in to Kilve Pill. There is a stunning beach which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its spectacular rock formations and fossils, including ammonites and reptile remains.
There isn’t a sandy beach at Kilve but it is a really popular spot for families and walkers. The rock pools are great fun, particularly if you are trying to walk over the rocks without falling in and the rock pools can be full of water depending on the tides and the rocks a bit tricky to navigate!
Kilve is also a great spot to sit and watch the sun go down, with spectacular sunsets as well as stunning views out to sea and across to Wales.
Just in case you haven’t seen Everything I do the video is below!
To go alongside my little trip around Somerset posts I thought I would also talk about a few of thee traditionally Somerset things you probably don’t know about this little county in the South West of England.
Cider – more specifically scrumpy cider. I am a cider fan but scrumpy cider is not really like any cider you find anywhere else, its definitely distinctively Somerset.
Glastonbury Festival – the festival is not actually held in Glastonbury, its held in Pilton but Glastonbury has more of a ring to it! The festival is usually held every year and involves a long weekend full of entertainment from artists worldwide, camping and sometimes mud baths if it happens to rain.
The Wurzels – Quite possibly the most famous band to come from Somerset, and the longest running as they started in 1966! With songs like I am a Cider Drinker, the Combine Harvester and The Blackbird they have played all over including at the Glastonbury Festival and I don’t think they ever struggle to sell tickets to their shows.
Cheddar Cheese – in the little village of Cheddar there are caves where some Cheddar cheese is made. At the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Factory you can sample the various types of cheddar they make and also watch the cheese being made by hand. I think that you haven’t had real Cheddar Cheese unless its made in Cheddar.
The Battle of Sedgemoor – The Battle of Sedgemoor was fought on 6 July 1685 and took place at Westonzoyland. It was the final battle of the Monmouth Rebellion and followed a series of skirmishes around south west England between the forces of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth and troops loyal to James II.
Coleridge Cottage – The cottage was the home of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge wrote Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, Frost at Midnight amongst many other poems. He also apparently convinced William Wordsworth to move to the Quantocks from Dorset!
Hot Fuzz – the film Hot Fuzz which is a pretty funny film was partly filmed in Wells in Somerset.
That’s just a selection of the great things, people and places from my home county of Somerset!
I haven’t managed to visit all of these places during my current visit home but I thought I would compile a list of places that I really love to visit in and around Somerset so I can show you the places I love from my home. I will begin today with Hestercombe House which is in the heart of somerset just outside of Taunton.
I don’t think it is a very well known location but it is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Somerset. There are usually lots of events going on at the house and gardens as well.
When I discovered my love of photography and also that Hestercombe House existed I used to visit it a lot for a wander around, to take some pictures and of course enjoy a spot of afternoon tea in the lovely cafe.
From my first visit to the gardens I loved the location, its gorgeous views and stunning walks are very inspiring even if you visit time and again. It’s also a lovely place to spend time with your family.
The website describes the gardens as a unique combination of three centuries of garden design: Coplestone Warre Bampfylde’s Georgian landscape garden, the Victorian terrace and shrubbery and the stunning Edwardian garden design by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. It really is a stunning location.
When we last visited there was a lovely cat watching over the gardens. However he was easy to distract with a quick scratch behind the ear!
There is a beautiful Orangery in the middle of the gardens which is a very popular wedding venue but also lovely to wander around and explore for everyone.
My favourite time of day to visit is later afternoon when it is a bit chilly and you get the lovely lighting. The sunsets make it more than worthwhile for a visit and can definitely give Darwin a run for its money on the sunsent front.