Mendip Hills: A spectacular road trip destination in Somerset
With its rolling hills, open marshlands and limestone gorges offering a cinematic quality, Somerset is a great road trip destination.
Somerset is unique in the sense that there are an array of cities, beaches and landscapes within such close proximity of each other.
Joanna Nemes, who runs the travel blog The World in My Pocket, has visited Somerset on a number of occasions and tells us why she loves driving around the county, “I know that Somerset is a very beautiful county, with rolling hills and lots of history. I have travelled within Somerset many times, exploring different parts of it, like Bath, Glastonbury or Cheddar Gorge. I know that the best cider in England comes from Somerset and that the county is also the birthplace of Cheddar cheese.”
There are lots of great routes to follow and lots of amazing attractions you can stop-off at, but arguably the best Somerset drive is through Mendip Hills. This drive is the perfect place to test drive your new ford car.
Here we recommend some places you can stop at and places you can visit either during your drive or places that are close-by to Mendip Hills.
•The Helicopter Museum
•The Grand Pier
•Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions
•Thermae Bath Spa
•No.1 Royal Crescent
Regarded as one of the UK’s most spectacular places, the Mendip Hills boasts dramatic valleys, gorges, limestone cliffs and lakes around every corner.
It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (one of 46 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and these protected landscapes are managed by local partnerships.
The various hills offer spectacular views of the Somerset Levels, Glastonbury, the Quantocks and even as far as Wales!
Driving through the Mendip Hills, rather than around the outside of it, might take a bit longer, but it is a truly stunning route to follow and you can stop at some great attractions as well.
Things to do
The Cheddar Gorge & Caves is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Mendip Hills and in Britain. It’s rugged cliffs and caves hold secrets about our prehistoric ancestors and are popular places for caving and rock climbing.
Joanna Nemes from World in my Pocket has visited Cheddar Gorge before and highly recommends you visit it whilst driving in Mendip Hills.
“One of the most beautiful road trips I have done in Somerset was to Cheddar Gorge, in the Mendip Hills. I would recommend people to stop here, for at least a day, and explore the area, as there are so many things to see and do, starting with Gough’s cave where the Cheddar Man’s almost complete skeleton has been discovered. Have you seen the portrait the scientists from the British Museum have created recently based on Cheddar Man’s 10,000 years old DNA?
“As you step into the cave, besides the interesting rock formations you will notice the Cheddar Cheese stocked up to mature. In the tiny village of Cheddar, you will find little shops selling the cheddar cheese that has been aged inside the cave. A hike to the top of the cliffs, following Jacob’s Ladder, is also a must. The views from up there stretch far, all the way to the sea – on a sunny day.”
Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions
The Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions are spectacular and they offer lots of fun no matter what the weather. There are guided cave tours, a dinosaur valley, a 4D cinema, a mirror maze, a wizard’s play castle, mini golf and lots of other attractions you can enjoy.
The animatronic dinosaurs in Dinosaur Valley are new for 2018 and you will be impressed by the fact they can roar, hiss, blink and even stomp.
The caves are the largest show cave systems in the UK and the tunnels showcase rare rock formations that you can see and learn about during the guided tours.
The Captain Jack’s Restaurant is a great place to stop for some food as it serves a selection of homemade dishes, sandwiches and snacks. You can also grab a coffee or tea to take with you for the rest of your drive along Mendip hills.
This seaside town is just outside of Mendip and is a great way to either start your journey or end it with an ice-cream at the beach. The town is steeped in Victorian history and its popular beach dominates the town.
The town is also 40-minutes from our Taunton Ford dealership, so we know some great places you can visit in the town.
Things to do
The Helicopter Museum
The Helicopter Museum is the world's largest dedicated helicopter museum and the attraction has a collection of 80 aircraft on display.
The displays include the Russian Hind Gunship, World-speed-record-holder G-Lynx, the Queen's Royal Flight Wessex, Super Frelon and the Vietnam Helicopter 'Huey!'
Shaly Dee, a Marketing Assistant at The Helicopter Museum, tells us why drivers should stop off at the museum before or after driving Mendip Hills.
“We are a historic site in Weston-super-Mare and home to 80+ Helicopters! We are also perfect for a rainy day as nearly all attractions are indoors, and we are dog-friendly so the whole family are welcome.
“Not only will you see some incredible aircraft up close, but on particular days of the year we also host 'Open Cockpit and Flight Days' where you have the chance to take off and see Weston-super-Mare from the skies!”
The museum also runs a lot of event days including World at War Weekends, a Birds & Bubbles Show, Vintage Car Rallies, plus Halloween and Christmas Family Events.
The Grand Pier
Offering seaside fun for the whole family, the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare is home to an indoor theme park.
There’re hundreds of amusements, a range of rides and attractions as well as an indoor play area. Whilst the kids play you can relax in the restaurants or cafes or can join in on the fun!
Some of the most popular rides include the Robo-coaster, F1 simulators, a house of horrors, the laser maze, the freefall ride and the sidewinder.
If you want to keep your feet on the ground, there’s the Museum of Memories, which is new for 2018 and takes you on a trip down memory lane through toys, sweets, breakfast cereals, memorable television programmes and more.
Bath can also be your start or end point after driving through Mendip Hills as it is just 40-minutes from the area and is certainly worth the slight detour.
The city is famous for its Roman history and natural hot-springs and it has been a wellbeing destination for hundreds of years. Its visitor-friendly centre is packed full of shops, places to eat and drink, museums, galleries and attractions.
With its Georgian architecture and variety of attractions, it is a great place to stay for a few days before or after your drive through Mendip Hills.
Things to do
Thermae Bath Spa
Located in the centre of Bath, the Thermae Bath Spa allows you to enjoy the UK’s only natural thermal waters like the Celts and Romans used to over 2,000 years ago. Thermae combines the best of the historic spa with contemporary design and facilities including a selection of relaxing spa treatments.
The New Royal Bath is the main spa and here you can relax in the open-air rooftop pool and enjoy stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside.
There’s also the Minerva Bath, which is the largest of the thermal baths, and a wellness suite featuring a Roman steam room, a Georgian steam room, an infrared room, an ice chamber, a celestial relaxation room, and showers.
A spokesperson from the spa told us why the attraction should be on your bucket list of places to visit in the city.
“Bath is as well known for its steaming hot waters as it is for its Georgian Architecture and Roman History. No visit to Bath is complete without taking a dip in these phenomenal waters, as generations before us have done.
“Thermae offers a one-of-a-kind spa experience thanks to the stunning views from its Rooftop Pool, and its mineral-rich thermal waters. With an indoor bathing pool, a state-of-the-art Wellness Suite, an on-site restaurant, and over 40 different treatments to choose from, this spa has something for everyone.”
No.1 Royal Crescent
The No.1 Royal Crescent allows you to step inside 18th-century life as the museum is decorated and furnished as if it was still in that period. The townhouse features historic furniture, pictures and other artefacts and it gives you a great insight into how Bath’s fashionable residents lived.
No.1 was the first house to be built in the Crescent and was used as luxury accommodation for the aristocratic visitors who came to the city.
The Crescent itself is one of the most iconic landmarks of Bath and one of the most photographed places in the city.
If you want to visit the museum, it is open from 10am-5pm from Monday to Sunday.
The Mendip Hills road is accessible and if you’re driving a new Ford Motability car you will have no issues driving along this route and visiting its attractions.