Blagdon – on the doorstep
Blagdon is one of the loveliest villages in the Chew Valley, nestling
on the slopes of the Mendip Hills in the heart of the West Country’s
best mountain-biking, horse-riding and walking country. Some of Britain’s
richest archaeology can be found in this beautiful landscape. The village
web site can be found at www.blagdon.org. Blagdon boasts a total of
5 pubs, all serving food, plus a village club. It has an excellent post
office stores, open 8-8, with just about everything you could need including
a good range of local Yeo Valley organic milk, cheese & yogurt.
John the Butcher’s is a real old-fashioned family butcher’s
shop selling locally reared meat, and we have a stylish beauty salon
as well as a boutique ‘Priddy in Pink’.
Pictured at the top of this page is Blagdon church on the edge of Blagdon's
world-class trout fishing lake (right). Walking or driving down into
Blagdon, from our vantage point at Ashcroft, provides a stunning panoramic
view of the lake and village below. Blagdon’s lake also provides
some lovely walks, and the best view of the lake can be found from the
garden of The New Inn (children over 10 only). There are regular events
and open days at the Visitor Centre / Pumping Station, http://www.bristol-water.co.uk/leisure/,
owned by Bristol Water. More fishing information can be found at http://blagdonlake.madasafish.com/
August 1-5: The Green Gathering (Mendip, local)
At the Cheddar crossroads, 2 miles from Ashcroft. Fabulous eco-friendly
event at Ferndale Farm. Adrian leads Wild Food Walks for the gathering.
Chew Valley Lake
Continuing on, Chew Valley Lake is the largest artificial freshwater
lake in South West England. An internationally renowned spot for birds,
there is boating, a lake side area with visitor centre, tearoom, and
nature trail. Bird watchers should visit http://www.cvlbirding.co.uk.
In addition, it is the location of a submerged Roman Villa – the
old Roman road just continues into the lake, mysteriously!
The sailing club can be found at www.chewvalleysailing.org.uk and fishing
information is at http://eis.bris.ac.uk/~cckhrb/BW/chew.htm. At the
other side of the lake on the A368 Bath road is the award-winning ‘Manor
Farm Shop’, great for real farm shopping and tea and cake in the
café! The Chew Valley web site is at http://www.chewvalley.co.uk/
Burrington Ham / Black Down / Roberrow Forest
Right on our doorstep, this is the largest area of open land in the
AONB. Black Down trig point is the highest point on Mendip offering
terrific views across to Wales. There is significant wildlife and archaeology
in the immediate area including a substantial iron-age hill fort (Dolebury,
pictured). There are stunning views of Black Down from both our family
rooms, and similarly breathtaking views across to Wales from the rear
of the house. You can walk directly to Burrington Ham from Ashcroft
by footpath, following the West Mendip Way Limestone Link.
The Mendip Hills
Mendip Hills AONB
The Mendip Hills is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
acknowledged as one of Britain’s finest landscapes, and specially
protected and managed. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk. From 'top
of the world', huge panoramic views across the Bristol Channel and Somerset
levels, to stunning vistas through deep, forested combes. Home to numerous
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), and bordering some
of Britain’s most important wetlands, The Mendip Hills has something
for everyone, and awaits your discovery…
This unique landscape contains some of the oldest hills in Britain,
formed at the same time as the Alps in Europe. It is one of Britain's
richest and most fascinating sites of pre-history and archaeology. The
Mendip Hills contain signs of some of the earliest human occupation
in Britain, and are home to Neolithic henge monuments, Bronze-age barrows,
Iron Age hill forts & evidence of extensive Roman occupation. There
are many sites of special scientific interest (SSSI's), designated for
their rare and important flora as well as the unique geology of the
area, Cheddar Gorge and Caves being of particular note.
The highest point on the Mendips, Beacon Batch on the top of Blackdown,
can give a feeling of true wilderness and isolation without ever being
too far from civilisation. Wildlife abounds, watch as Kestrels dive
into the heather to catch their prey and Buzzards circle high overhead
on thermal air currents. From Ashcroft House, Blackdown provides an
ever-present back-drop, swathed in purple heather in the spring, and
sometimes snow-capped in winter. Deer and wild ponies are silhouetted
against wonderful summer sunsets. Blackdown affords remarkable 360 degree
views across the Severn Estuary, and both Severn Bridges to Wales, across
the Somerset Levels and Moors to the Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills,
Chew Valley & Blagdon lakes and Cheddar Gorge.
Cheddar Gorge & Caves
This dramatic limestone gorge ends in the village of Cheddar with shops,
pubs, tearooms, restaurants situated at the bottom. A major tourist
attraction, Britain’s biggest Gorge offers plenty to do above
and below ground with the Cathedral-like Caves, million-year-old Ice
Age river bed & of course, ‘Cheddar Man’, Britain's
oldest complete skeleton! http://www.cheddarcaves.co.uk/
Wookey Caves & Papermill
Britain's most spectacular showcaves, home of the Witch of Wookey;
Victorian Papermill - Traditional papermaking - Old Penny Pier, Magical
Mirror Maze, Neptunes Kingdom, Caves Museum. Attractive picnic areas
The Cathedral City of Wells
The City of Wells is just 15 minutes from Ashcroft and is not to be
missed! It is Britain’s smallest city and is home to one of the
loveliest English Cathedrals, featuring the finest medieval statuary
in the country (603 figures of kings, princes and nobles). We love the
mechanical clock inside the cathedral. There are numerous other historical
buildings, including the Bishop's Palace, which is still home to the
Bishop of Bath & Wells. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Hot
Fuzz’, you’ll recognize much of Wells, as it was filmed
Wells also has a bustling market, normally held every Wednesday and
Saturday morning, and numerous lovely shops. The Cathedral hosts many
concerts and events, and it’s well worth checking out the web
site to see what’s going on. A visit to Wells isn’t complete
without lunch at ‘The Good Earth’. Formerly an Egon Ronay
‘just a bite’ recommendation, this wholefood café
serves excellent food at a very sensible price. It has been our firm
favourite for many, many years and always gets rave reviews from our
visitors and guests.
On the way to, or from, Wells you might like to call in to Milton Lodge
Gardens. This Grade II listed garden is delightful, with outstanding
views of Wells Cathedral and the Vale of Avalon. It has mixed borders,
roses, fine trees, and a separate 7 acre arboretum. Opening is limited
- Easter - Oct. Tues, Wed, Sunday & Bank Hols. Tea & cake served
(on Sundays in the old stables) by the owner’s mother, a delightful
lady who, if it’s quiet, is usually happy to tell you all about
the history of this quirky place.
Glastonbury Tor rises dramatically from the flat landscape of the Somerset
Levels, close to the town of Glastonbury, to a height of 158 metres
(525 feet). The Tor is topped by the tower of a ruined 15th-century
church (St Michael's). The hill and its approaches are owned by the
National Trust, and offer free public access, but visitors are advised
to walk there from the town centre, or to take the 'Tor Bus', due to
parking restrictions around the site. Views from the summit are stunning
in all directions. History, myth and legend surround the Tor. Dark Age
and Saxon remains excavated here suggested that it was once a Saxon
fortress, or perhaps an early Christian hermitage.
Close to the foot of the Tor are the Chalice Well Gardens, a lovely
place to stop and relax, have a wander around, contemplate life the
universe, etc! There is also a font with water from the ‘Holy
Well’, the spring, where you can collect water to drink. We also
like the Rainbow’s End café, it serves good value and very
tasty vegetarian food.
The Somerset Rural Life Museum is also not far from the Tor. It is a
magnificent Medieval Abbey barn and Victorian farmhouse with displays,
exhibitions, craft and farming demonstrations and special events. Shop
& tea room. www.somerset.gov.uk/museums
Traditionally the oldest Christian sanctury in the UK, Glastonbury Abbey
www.glastonburyabbey.com is the legendary burial place of King Arthur.
36 Beautiful acres, Holy Thorn. Award winning museum.
The Somerset Levels & Moors
This remarkable area has international status as one of the most important
wetlands of its type in the world. Almost half of the Levels & Moors
is designated an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and parts of the
wetland are designated a 'Ramsar' site of international importance,
and a Special Protection Area, to ensure 'wise' or 'sustainable' use.
Several DEFRA initiatives specifically encourage farmers to 'wise use',
such as the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally
Sensitive Areas Scheme (ESA). Wise use of a wetland results in richness
of flowers and wildlife. You can visit the Peat Moors Centre, http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/pmc/
for craft and living history demonstrations, and insight into the history
of the area.
The Victorian Resort of Clevedon
Clevedon is a Victorian seaside town of unspoiled charm. Enjoying glorious
views across the Bristol Channel, the local coastal walks have inspired
many great writers including Tennyson, Thackeray and Coleridge.
Clevedon Pier is the jewel in the crown, one of the finest and most
important Victorian Piers in the country. The town also boasts the Curzon
Community Cinema which is said to be the "oldest purpose-built
continuously operated cinema in the world."
An ideal resort for all the family with plenty of activities, whether
you like to take things at a leisurely pace or prefer a more energetic
approach. There are summer concerts in the seafront bandstand, and other
events, plus activities such as golf, fishing and riding nearby. Salthouse
Fields adjoining the seafront has children's attractions, donkey rides,
a play area and nearby a miniature railway.
There is individual charm in the specialist shops plus the familiar
high street names and an excellent choice of restaurants and cafes.
Close to the town there is a craft centre where you can buy quality
gifts from the artists themselves. There are National Trust properties
nearby and fantastic garden centres.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm at Wraxall. www.noahsarkzoofarm.co.uk
Big zoo animals close up, huge indoor adventure playgrounds, friendly
farm animals to handle.
The MaritimeCity of Bristol
(25-35 minutes from Ashcroft)
Clifton Suspension Bridge www.clifton-suspension-bridge.org.uk
Brunel’s world-famous bridge is the symbol of Bristol. Visitor
information point, great walk across from Clifton to Ashton Court estate.
SS Great Britain www.ssgreatbritain.org
The world’s most exciting and accessible historic ship. Dockyard
Museum, various attractions, family fun.
The Matthew www.matthew.co.uk
Bristol’s one and only tall ship. Public harbour cruises, part
of the SS Great Britain visitor attraction.
Bristol city sightseeing www.bristolvisitor.co.uk
Live guides, hop on and hop off buses. Discount vouchers, free kids
packs. Tel 0870 444 0654.
Bristol Ferry Boat Co www.bristolferry.com
Take a ride on one of Bristol’s ferries! Tel 0117 927 3416.
@t Bristol www.at-bristol.org.uk
The interactive adventure of a lifetime. Explore is the UK’s most
exciting hands-on science centre. Wildwalk has botanical houses, live
animals and interactive exhibits. Finally, take a voyage with the IMAX
Bristol Zoo Gardens www.bristolzoo.org.uk
New monkey jungle with monkeys, lemurs and gorillas. The award-winning
seal and penguin coast, bug world, twilight world, reptile house and
Ashton Court Estate
Stunning 850 acre historic public park and major event venue. Café,
visitor centre and rose garden. 0117 963 9174.
Rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horses, ponies and donkeys.
Family-friendly visitor centre. Groom the animals, indoor and outdoor
play areas, gift shop, tea room.
Avon Valley Railway www.avonvalleyrailway.org
Located between Bristol & Bath, this heritage railway offers a nostalgic
journey. Riverside walks, picnic areas, etc.
The Georgian City of Bath
(30-40 minutes from Ashcroft)
Bath Spa www.themaebathspa.com
Located in the heart of Bath and fed by the natural hot springs. Spa
sessions and treatments.
Roman Baths www.romanbaths.co.uk
The finest religious spa in Northern Europe, built 2000 years ago around
the country’s only hot springs. Roman museum, special audiotour
for children, etc.
The Seaside Resort ofWeston super Mare
(15-20 minutes from Ashcroft)
Weston-super-Mare is a bustling seaside resort. The broad sweep of
Weston Bay has an award winning Grade II listed Grand Pier, a level
promenade, and of course the famous Weston donkeys!
Helicopter museum www.helicoptermuseum.co.uk
World’s largest helicopter museum. 70+ helicopters, undercover,
including the world speed record holder. Take a helicopter flight! Under
12’s can stage a rescue in the Lynx helicopter play area.
Puxton Park http://www.puxton.co.uk/info.php
Family farm attraction, farm shop, animals, play areas, suitable for
The Cotswolds & Gloucestershire
(1 hour from Ashcroft)
Slimbridge Wetlands Centre www.wwt.org.uk
One of nine Wildfowl and Wetland Centres run by the WWT. The world’s
largest collection of exotic, rare and endangered ducks, geese and swans
in a reserve of international importance.
Westonbirt Arboretum www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt
One of our favourite places, Westonbirt has one of the finest collections
of trees and shrubs in the world, set in 600 acres. Beautiful and family-friendly
at any time of the year.
The Mendips - Wild Food, Bushcraft & Natural
History Walks, Forays & Camp-fire Cook-ups on the Mendips in Somerset
Airport Bed & Breakfast - The best B&B's near Bristol Airport
for quality & value
Crescent B&B - Bed & Breakfast in Bath with our friends Sue
B&B - Bed & Breakfast on the Mendips
Lodge B&B - Bed & Breakfast near Torrington, North Devon
All web site content
and photos copyright Adrian Boots 2002-2009.
Ellick Road, Blagdon, Bristol BS40 7TU. Tel: 01761 463356
Email: Adrian Boots