Inland Tourist Destinations in the South West – Part 2

Tourists who visit Somerset are often attracted to Wookey Hole which is found in the north of the county. It consists of series of caves that have been formed naturally in the Mendip Hills.

A cave at Wookey Hole

Over the years chemical weathering has resulted in the limestone rock being weathered and eroded away leaving large, water filled caves to remain. The caves also have stalactites, stalagmites and pillars that have been deposited in the area over the years.

They consist of feldspar that has been left from the limestone being weathered. Dripping water from the caves ceiling has left small traces of the particle deposited on each drop and over the years this has built up into large spears of rock both growing from the floor, and descending from the ceiling.

The River Axe flows through the caves and there is a water mill that has in the past produced paper. It is now a listed building and the whole area is deemed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. People who visit the area will also make the short trip to Wells Cathedral. Wells is the second smallest city in the UK with a population of just over 10,000.

Visitors to Somerset will often go and see Glastonbury. As well as being home to the world famous rock festival, it also has Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor. The tor is a hill that stands out from the surrounding Somerset Lowlands. It comprises of sandstone and it is topped by the roofless St Michaels Church. The surrounding slopes are terraced making it easier for walkers to scale.

Glastonbury Abbey was founded in the 7th century, and after being destroyed by fire it was rebuilt in the 14th century, making it one of the largest and most powerful abbeys in the country. It became so influential in local affairs that the last abbot, Richard Whiting, was hanged drawn and quartered for being a traitor, on Glastonbury Tor in 1539. Although the abbey now lies in ruins it is a popular attraction. Many tourists visit as a result of its supposed association with the legend of King Arthur, and there is something mythical about the site.

Another favorite rural site to visit is Longleat Safari Park which is situated on the Wiltshire Somerset border. First opened in 1966 it was the first Safari Park to be located outside of Africa and today it occupies 9,000 acres of land and is owned by the 7th Marquees of Bath.

There are over 500 animals on the property and the animals use the estate as their home. People are also able to visit the stately home and its gardens, plus there is also a railway on the site. It is still the biggest safari in the country and the variety of the species that it keeps is a major reason why it has remained so popular for so long.

The Eden Project in Cornwall

For people who are interested in the natural environment a visit to the Eden Project just outside of St Blazey in Cornwall is a must when touring the West Country. Opened in 2001 the site consists of two major biomes being recreated in a series of structures that are made of plastic cells held together by steel frames.

The two biomes include a rainforest environment and a Mediterranean environment. Within these biomes there are thousands of different species that can survive in the artificially created environment. There are even botanical gardens outside that are home to many plants that are native to Cornwall. The Eden project is a popular tourist destination and in 2016 it received over a million visitors.

Another slightly unusual attraction in Cornwall is the Minack Theatre which is located just 4 miles from Land’s End, which is the far south-west extreme of the county. The theatre is cut into the local granite and overlooks the ocean giving it a spectacular location.

The plays are performed by visiting companies and the season lasts from May to September. Each year over 80,000 visitors watch the performances and a further 100,000 visit the site when there is no show being performed.