Coast’s Choice: Somerset

Our journey through the south of England has brought us to Somerset for the fourth Coast’s Choice article; a rural county with rolling hills, which is also famous for its cheese and cider!

Cheddar Gorge

This limestone and grassland nature reserve is one of the country’s most famous natural attractions, housing rare plants and animals such as the endangered Greater Horseshoe bat. Cheddar Caves plays host to an impressive gathering of stalactites and stalagmites framed by mirrored water pools – its eerie appearance inspired ‘Lord of the Rings’ author JRR Tolkein during his visit in 1916.

The best way to experience all that Cheddar Gorge has to offer is to purchase a ‘caves and gorge explorer’ ticket, which includes entry to Cheddar Man & The Cannibals, a museum of British pre-history. Tickets cost £18.50 for adults and £12 for children.

From April-September, Cheddar Gorge operates an open top bus tour, while a three mile cliff top walk is available throughout the year. Active tourists can also take part in caving expeditions, climbing and abseiling with professional instructors. Click here to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 1 mile

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

The UK’s original safari park features an exotic array of species from the animal kingdom including cheetahs, zebras and rhinos. Your journey will begin in the East African game reserve, before travelling through a flamingo valley and vulture aviary to the monkey drive-thru. You’ll then spy big game, deer, elephants, elephants, pelicans, tigers and lions before passing a pack of howling wolves.

New activities for 2012 include the chance to feed a giraffe, while there are many other feeding opportunities and live shows that take place throughout the day.

While visiting the park you can also take a look around the magnificent Longleat House, an Elizabethan stately home with 900 acres of gardens designed by Capability Brown. Inside the house, you can take a close look at priceless antiques and relics, including the blood-stained vest worn by King Charles I at his execution.

The park runs special seasonal events such as a Halloween spookfest, firework spectacular and winter wonderland featuring a spectacular outdoor ice rink. Click here to visit the Longleat website.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is open daily between March and November and on selected dates during the winter. Day passes are available from £27.50 for adults and £19.50 for children, while a two-day joint ticket including entry to Cheddar Gorge and Caves is also on sale.

Nearest caravan site: 2.7 miles

Walled Gardens of Cannington

Situated within a medieval priory, the picturesque Walled Gardens showcase local and exotic plant life including a hot herbaceous border, sub-tropical botanical glasshouse, beautiful blue garden, Victorian inspired fernery and two smaller gardens – Bishop’s and Australasian – designed for tranquillity.

The Walled Gardens also feature an acclaimed tea room where you can enjoy homemade cakes and beverages, or purchase local crafts and plants grown within Cannington.

Entry costs £3.50 for adults with free entry for children and students. A guided tour and cream tea ticket is available for £8.50. Visit the website for further information.

Nearest caravan site: 3.6 miles

Glastonbury Abbey

It might be famous for its festival, but Glastonbury also has great historical heritage. This ancient market town houses the ruins of what was England’s largest and richest abbey when it was founded by the Saxons in the seventh century.

The abbey continued to grow in size, opulence and status as time progressed and it is rumoured to be the earliest Christian sanctuary in Britain. Legend also has it that King Arthur and Queen Guinever were buried at the site in the 12th century.

Set in 36 acres of parkland and wildlife areas, during peak season visitors can look forward to close encounters with characters from the abbey’s past, courtesy of historical re-enactments.

Glastonbury Abbey is open year-round except for Christmas Day, while its outdoor summer café welcomes visitors between May and September. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time (4pm in the winter, 5pm in spring and autumn and 9pm in summer). Click here to visit the website and find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 2.6 miles

Haynes International Motor Museum

This four-wheel mecca is heaven on earth for petrol heads, as the Haynes International Motor Museum contains more than 400 classic cars and bikes from the past six decades.

Visitors can take a close look at nostalgic machinery from the likes of Austin, Bentley and Rolls Royce alongside contemporary supercars such as the Jaguar XJ220, Dodge Viper and Ferrari 260. The museum also features the world-famous Red Room – one of the UK’s largest speedway collections spanning 11 halls. Other features include a dedicated area for American cars, including the million dollar Duesenberg and a V16 Cadillac.

For younger visitors, the Haynes International Motor Museum has a children’s play area with super diggers, a soft-play bus and adventure playground. There is also a café serving drinks and snacks.

Entry to the museum, which is open all year round, costs £9.95 for adults and £4.95 for children. Visit the website for more information.

Nearest caravan site: 1 mile

To make sure your caravan or motorhome is protected while you’re travelling this year, Coast can offer you comprehensive touring caravan insurance or motorcaravan insurance. For more information on our insurance policies, contact the Coast sales team on Freephone 0800 614 849 or visit our Quotation Page.