Glastonbury: Beyond The Festival
Festival-goers will be flocking to Glastonbury in their thousands this June, on their annual pilgrimage to the mother of all UK music festivals. With its back-to-nature Healing Fields to nightlife districts such as Shangri-La, Glastonbury Festival is like a town in its own right. But there’s a lot to discover on the other side of the festival fence too. From stunning natural attractions to family activities, here are a few reasons to explore Glastonbury and its beautiful surrounding areas.
Bianca Ohannessian is a travel and fashion writer and social media expert. With a passion for fashion and an appetite for adventure, when she’s not writing, she’s out exploring the globe.
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This small town in Somerset carries centuries of history, myths and legends on its shoulders. From ley lines to medieval knights, Neolithic communities to the Isle of Avalon, it’s been an area of interest for many different reasons. Today, charming Glastonbury town is dotted with alternative shops, traditional tea rooms and quirky cafés serving up fresh local produce from nearby farms.
As well as picturesque churches that date back a whole millennium, the town is watched over by Glastonbury Tor. The National Trust protected monument is surrounded by folklore and fairy myths, towering over the town from its hilltop spot. Hike up to the top and you’ll be met with stunning views of the English countryside. Check out the Chalice Well on your way down. See it after dark when its atmospheric gardens are illuminated by candlelight for special summertime performances of live music and poetry.
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Aside from being the birth place of Britain’s favourite cheese, spectacular 450 foot cliffs and stalactite caves bring visitors to Cheddar. Ice Age melt-waters have carved out the country’s largest gorge in spectacular fashion over the past few millions of years. With prehistoric discoveries dotting the area, you can pop into the fascinating Museum of Prehistory to learn more. If extreme sports are high on your agenda, get your thrills with rock climbing and adventure caving.
Follow the hiking paths to admire breath-taking natural views. Be sure to go below ground to admire the magnificent limestone caverns, fountains and rock pools such as magical Gough’s Cave and Cox’s Cave. Just a few miles down the road, you can seek out the Wookey Hole Caves too, where a river flows through a beautiful network of underground limestone chambers. It also offers a dinosaur park and other attractions, making it a fun day out.
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This family-run lavender farm is a beautiful sight to behold. The summer months see the tranquil, floral fields glow a vivid purple while pretty scents fill the air. With different varieties of the flower grown at Somerset Lavender, you’ll see blooms flourish from June right through until August.
There are lots of opportunities to learn about the local crops, plus a chance to take a tour of the distillery. Breathe in smells from the fragrant herbs in the Healing Garden. Or discover the Rose and Vegetable Garden before enjoying its tasty produce in the café afterwards. Then stop in at the farm shop to pick up natural lavender products to take home with you.
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Pack a picnic and head to Wells, England’s smallest city. Here you’ll find a medieval palace set against 14-acres of lovely leafy gardens. Bishop’s Palace also boasts its own on-site art gallery and well pool which gave the City of Wells its name. It’s been a popular attraction since the Iron Age, as visitors have been drawn to the ancient well and its rumoured healing properties.
The picturesque grounds are also sprinkled with fresh water springs, a waterfall and an authentic moat. The resident swans have achieved a type of celebrity status as the clever creatures ring a bell to let the caretakers know when it’s feeding time. There’s also a great program of live events held here during the summer, such as open-air theatre shows.
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Just an hour’s drive from Glastonbury, the iconic stone circle of Stonehenge stands tall in Amesbury. This mysterious prehistoric monument is a must-see. Built in stages over the past 5,000 years, the impressive structure is a wonder of engineering. A question mark still hangs over how the immense stones were transported to this part of the world.
Visit around sunset to see the stone circle’s silhouette against a sky of magnificent colours. You can start to unravel the mysteries of the monument by checking out the museum exhibitions. There are also Neolithic houses nearby, where you can get a glimpse into life 4,500 years ago.
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A city built on hot springs, Bath has been attracting visitor for centuries. Don’t miss the restored Roman baths and its main attraction, the spectacular Great Bath. Other features include the Sulis Minerva temple ruins and several hot and cold baths. There are plenty of modern-day spas to get pampered in too, such as the Thermae Bath Spa with its luxurious roof-top pool overlooking the city.
Take your time wandering through the elegant Georgian streets. You’ll find lots of boutiques tucked away around Broad Street and Walcot Street. Afternoon tea has long been a cherished tradition in Bath, and many of the hotels and tea rooms offer deliciously dainty bites with a selection of teas.
Surfing In Devon
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Around an hour and a half’s drive northwest of Glastonbury will take you to the stunning coast of North Devon. Beautiful sandy beaches stretch along the shoreline and are sure to keep you entertained. Follow the footpaths around the bays, explore the area on horse-back, play a round of golf or tuck into a hearty lunch at a local pub.
Dying to dive into the surf? Croyde is one of the UK’s top surfing beaches and offers consistent waves for all abilities. There are several surf schools to choose from if you want to have a go for the first time. The exquisite beach is backed by sand dunes and green fields, as well as the quaint village of Croyde. You’ll find a mix of pro and beginner surfers at Saunton beach too, and another fabulous beach if you just want to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.