Exploring in the UK: A Day Trip to Wells and Glastonbury Tor
|In front of the Wells Cathedral|
One of the things I've been observing about the UK is that it is absolutely, chock full of historic stuff. Duh, MsCaroline, you are saying to yourself, everyone knows that the UK and Europe are full of historic stuff. What other glaringly self-evident observations do you have to share with us? Well, let me tell you what. It may sound pretty self-evident when you are living somewhere else, but when you are surrounded by it every day, constantly finding yourself passing signs telling you that This building was modernised in 1740 by the 7th Earl of Chesterwickshireham, it puts a new spin on things.
In the UK, everything is just oozing with history, which means that (to use one of my favorite new expressions) a visitor is 'spoilt for choice.' Will it be the castle, or the Roman ruins? Druid stone circle? Historic mansion? Ship? Cathedral? Village? How to choose?
And that's the problem. There is so much to see, you almost become paralyzed by all the options. And I'm just talking about things that are within an hour's drive of home. We haven't even started to explore the rest of the country yet, except for Cornwall, which is remarkable and which I will blog about
So you can imagine my relief when, shortly after our arrival in January, I got an email from one of my long-time favorite bloggers, Potty Mummy, kindly offering some suggestions for a few day trips around our area. I was pathetically grateful. At last! Guidance! Focus! Help!
I picked the first thing on her list, and this is how it came to pass that we headed out the very next Saturday to Wells and Glastonbury Tor.
|Weekend market in the city centre in Wells.|
Wells is a charming little medieval city in the Somerset district of England. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells (the Bishop's Palace can also be toured) and the location of the Wells Cathedral, built between the 12th and 14th centuries.
The city itself is incredibly picturesque, complete with cobblestone streets and historic buildings, including a fountain in the town square, medieval stone walls, and a Tudor-style historic pub, which is probably why it was chosen as the location for the Simon Pegg film, Hot Fuzz, which concerns a London police officer who is transferred to a (seemingly) idyllic village in Gloucestershire. It's easy to see why Wells was chosen, since 'idyllic' should be part of its official name:
|Kids playing by the fountain in the village courtyard (fountain featured pretty prominently in Hot Fuzz as well!)|
|National Trust gift shop and archway leading to the Bishop's Palace.|
|Lots of adorable shops, restaurants, tearooms, and pubs. Ooooooozing charm!|
Since we are huge Hot Fuzz fans, we were probably a little more excited than normal people would have been about visiting Wells, especially when we spotted buildings that had featured prominently in the film, such as 'The Swan' Hotel, and 'The Crown' pub:
|This is actually the back of 'The Crown,' which I did not realize when I took this photo.|
It goes without saying that we had to stop in for a pint. And a bite to eat. It was an interesting mix of fancy tourists and down-to-earth locals. We spent most of our time conversing with a man whose Staffordshire terrier was wearing a very unusual garment which piqued our interest. The jacket was different from your typical dog outerwear in that it looked like it had been removed directly from the sheep upon its demise and placed immediately on the dog's back with no concern about silly things like fit and size. (In fact, I initially thought it was a sheepdog lying there on the floor until I noticed that the dog's head didn't match its coat.) Imagine, if you will, a dog with a Flokati rug tied on its back and you will understand why we were intrigued. As you can imagine, the owner was the most interesting person we talked to all day.
After our refreshment, we decided to tour the Cathedral, which, as the historic seat of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, was truly gorgeous. Since MrL took all the interior photos, you will have to take my word for it, or google 'Wells Cathedral.'
But here are a few shots of the exterior:
We also took a stroll around the grounds of the Bishop's Palace (you can take a tour of the palace itself, but we were heading for Glastonbury at that point,) which featured a moat (our boys would have appreciated this when they were younger) complete with swans:
After a stroll around the moat, we set our sights (and the GPS/SatNav) on the next spot on our itinerary:
For those of you
|Approaching the Tor.|
Even if it were not historically and spiritually significant, the Glastonbury Tor would be worth hiking for the views alone. The view of the countryside is sweeping, and on a clear day (which we, sadly, did not have) you can supposedly see all the way to Bath (miles away.)
Setting our GPS/SatNav, we drove into the countryside and soon found ourselves approaching the Tor. It turns out that most people enter from the direction of a town called 'Burrow Mump' (I will never get over that name, by the way) which is where you pick up the concrete footpath leading to the top. However, due to a
|We were sure that the Tor was just over this hill (it was)|
|Almost at the top|
|As promised, the views at the top were spectacular, - sort of difficult to tell in this very odd panoramic shot.|
If you go: Wells is a charming medieval city ('the smallest city in England') about an hour's drive from Bristol or Bath. Glastonbury Tor is about a 15-20 minute drive from Wells. There is no National Trust car park, but there are public (fee-paying) car parks at Burrow Mump, Glastonbury Tor, and Collard Hill (if you don't fancy parking on the roadside like we did and hiking cross-country.) You don't need to be an athlete (trust me, I'm not one), but you need to be fit enough to walk up the steep uphill path. There are benches halfway up if you need a break.