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Trip Report Bath, Stonehenge & More -- 3-day weekend

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We, family of 4 with kids age 12 & 9, continued to take advantage of our UK location and squeezed in a quick trip to the Bath area over the August Bank Holiday weekend. First of all, I expected masses of people and general chaos given the popular travel destination and time of year, but it really wasn't that bad. Perhaps other popular destinations are overcome with tourists and locals but that didn't seem to be the case. I plan to travel on all bank holiday weekends since that's convenient for us, and I wouldn't let it deter your plans either.

Though very few, if any, of you Fodorites will have the same situation as us (i.e. living in the UK as ex-pats), this should also apply to those visiting London with a few extra days to spare.

We left Derby to head south around 8 am on Saturday morning. Our ultimate destination that evening was a small B&B near Bradford on Avon (near Bath) but we had a few stops planned along the way. Traffic was dense, but we didn't really stall until the various motorways converged outside of Bristol -- probably cost us 30 minutes or so. Could have been much worse.

Our first stop was thrown in at the last minute: Cheddar Gorge. I knew we wouldn't have time to tour the caves and things and hit our other stops so this was basically a scenic stop. It was a pretty area for sure.

The main purpose of the stop, though, was to visit the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company (www.cheddargorgecheeseco.co.uk). We really enjoyed the behind the scenes tour and video to see how the cheese is made. Apparently this is the official cheddar and like most things here, dates back 100's of years. The samples were tasty and gave us some ideas for a future order but we didn't leave with any this time.

After a nondescript pub lunch, we continued on the back roads to stop # 2: Wells. Wells has a very impressive Gothic Cathedral (circa 1200) and at least on this day, a nice market area set up near by (www.wellscathedral.org.uk/). DW joined a tour in progress while the kids and I had a look around. Impressive stained glass, unique scissor (double) arches and an interesting old clock (~1300) were notable.

There was plenty more to see in the area (the cathedral grounds were quite large) but we were treating this more as a survey trip and wanted to fit in one more stop before turning in for the night.

That last stop was Glastonbury. Again, this was a neat town that deserved more of our time. Glastonbury has had some savvy marketeers / story tellers over the years as many legends abound. It is believed that Joseph of Arimathea delivered vials of his nephew's (Jesus) blood in AD 37. Business boomed in the area as it was a major pilgrimage site until Canterbury become the hot ticket in 1171. Later there was a fire in the abbey and tombs of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were [allegedly] discovered.

Since we were winging it, we didn't exactly time things perfectly. We made it to the abbey ruins but after the tours there. We did catch a birds of prey exhibit within the grounds that the kids really liked. Each got to hold an owl for a photo op.

The chalice well (of Holy Grail repute) was unfortunately closed but we did find the energy to walk up the Tor for an excellent view of the town and surrounding areas.

Nightfall was coming and I wanted to find our B&B in daylight. We just made it. After checking in, we drove into Bradford on Avon and had a surprisingly good meal at the Orient Express (Thai mainly).

Details on the B&B, Bath, Stonehenge and more to come.

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