A family week away in Cheddar
With both of my parents having significant birthdays recently, they wanted to celebrate with their whole family. This consisted the two of them, myself, Rich and our girls, and my two younger sisters, their partners and two children each. They booked us two gorgeous lodges in Cheddar Woods to accommodate all 14 of us. We have stayed at Cheddar Woods before, and were really pleased to find out that our lodge had a hot tub!
We were all keen to go to the beach, and Weston-Super-Mare is one of the closest ones to Cheddar. We had a “typical” day there, including a walk along the front, fairground rides, fish and chips, ice cream and time on the beach.
Weston-Super-Mare was also the closest beach when we were younger – the joys of growing up in the land-locked Midlands! It is often joked about that you never see the sea at Weston. However, this wasn’t the case today! Thankfully, there was still plenty of beach for the girls to enjoy digging holes in and making sandcastle and sandy mud pies.
Not far away from Cheddar is Well, England’s smallest city. We had never visited before, and as Freyja had recently enjoyed a recent school visit to Gloucester Cathedral, we decided to check out Wells Cathedral. The outside of the cathedral is really spectacular. It is hard to imagine that the inside could equal it, and yet it does. There is so much to see and take in, you can’t help put just stand in the nave and stare. Initially, you are stuck by the St Andrew’s cross arches at the front. Then you notice the galleries running down the sides of the nave and then the decorative ceilings. It is hard not to be impressed. As you move around the rest of the cathedral, there are some amazing stained glass windows to enjoy. And there is also the astronomical clock, which is a must to see with children. When the clock strikes, jousting knights appear above the clock face – one of which loses its head!
Wells Cathedral was pretty awesome, however, we actually found somewhere which impressed us even more. The Bishop’s Palace is right next to the cathedral. It has been the home for the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. The grounds are surrounded by a moat, on which swans with their cygnets were drawing in passers-by with food for them. The gardens were beautifully kept, with a trail to keep the children interested. The girls were fascinated by a tower in the gardens which reminded them of Rapunzel’s tower. There were also stunning views of the cathedral here. I had completely underestimated the place, and intend to visit Wells again at some point.
After a more cultured day, we took another trip to the beach the following day. This time to Brean. The weather was glorious, and the sea felt warm enough for the girls to spend some time wading around and splashing about.
Our final day in Cheddar was a showery one, but we felt we couldn’t come to Cheddar without actually visiting the gorge and caves. Surprisingly, Freyja was very keen to visit the caves. When we actually went into Gough’s Cave, as I would have predicted, both the girls became very nervous – mostly about the dark and bats! They calmed down fairly quickly though. I think the highlight for them was seeing the cages of cheddar cheese which was maturing in the caves. Emily thought this was hilarious. I love seeing all the stalactites and stalagmites – particularly when you can see these reflected in the underground pools.
I find the caves particularly fascinating as it is where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found. There is even some prehistoric drawing within the cave. It is amazing to think that these caves would have been home to ancient human beings. It’s hardly surprising to find out that these caves were the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkein’s Helm’s Deep in The Lord of The Rings.
We then tried the “Dreamhunters” cave. This had a multimedia experience with video projection and lighting. Video images of wolves scared the girls so we had to duck out half way round.
After the caves, we took Jacob’s Ladder – the 275 steps up to the clifftop walk. There was much grumbling from the girls. At the top, we took a few more steps up the watchtower for a 360-degree view of the area. It was pretty amazing, but it would have been much more spectacular on a sunnier day. To reward the girls for completing the steep journey up and down Jacob’s Ladder we had ice creams. You can probably imagine how excited I was to find Gin and Tonic sorbet!
With the weather not improving, and two tired girls, we decided to drive through the gorge. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. Even the grey skies couldn’t detract from the amazing views. My photos just couldn’t do it justice. I couldn’t really understand how I had come to Cheddar when I was young and not remembered just how spectacular the gorge was. Then, as the girls complained about how “boring” this was, and that they wanted to go back to the lodge to go in the hot tub, I realised what it was. I was probably EXACTLY the same when I was younger.
We had a lovely week away. I feel we packed a variety of different activities, managing to do something to keep everyone happy. However, for all of these activities, it was spending time with their extended family which the girls enjoyed the most. I don’t think it would have mattered to them exactly what we did, they enjoyed the fact that they were doing this with their cousins