C H E D D A R G O R G E & V I C A R S C L O S E
On day two of our week in Somerset, Matt and I visited Wells and Cheddar Gorge.
Whilst I had been to Cheddar before (coerced shall we say, into a rather smelly factory tour, at an age when cheese wasn’t especially interesting) Matt had not had that pleasure. But, after a quick drive through the valley road, we opted for a quieter route; parking near the start of the gorge, we took a track that led up to the top of the valley. It wasn’t as steep a climb you would expect, but the view – my word the view – was stunning. So stunning in fact, we were astonished there weren’t more people up there or at least a larger roadside sign marking the trail!
Named as the second greatest natural wonder in Britain and the view from the top as the fifth best in the UK, Cheddar Gorge is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Somerset. We had lunch at the top (lunch with a view) and took all the photos; gingerly leaning over the edge to glimpse the winding road below. As well as following a few of the goats around, whilst keeping at a very respectful distance!
Afterwards, we drove to Wells. Often described as the smallest city in England and also the filming location of Dr Who, Never Let Me Go, Wolf Hall, Harry Potter, Poldark and Hot Fuzz (to name a few). Looking back it was probably our favourite place we visited during the week.
Once parked discreetly on a back street (we were determined to make it through our stay without paying for parking) we wandered through the marketplace, old high street and into the grounds of The Bishop’s Palace. Across the drawbridge and beyond the moat, sat the old manor house and lawns. And there outside The Bishop’s Table cafe, beneath a particularly beautiful black walnut tree, we enjoyed a cream tea. Proudly representing Cornwall by spreading the jam first then dolloping the cream on after – as it should be done.
Around the corner from The Bishop’s Palace was Well’s Cathedral. And around the corner from the cathedral was Vicar’s Close; an almost otherworldly cul-de-sac of historical homes. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, it’s claimed to be the oldest residential street with its original buildings still intact, in Europe. Now it’s home (at least partly) to Wells Cathedral School. And every so often the children, led by a teacher, walk in two straight lines through the close, looking completely reminiscent of Madeline.
It is perhaps foolish or silly to suggest places could be described as bookish; as having a literary air to them. But in my mind, Vicar’s Close is entirely one of those places; filled with odd people and curious stories, tucked away in their row of odd houses. Houses you could also quite comfortably curl up in with a book.
…Maybe next time. I think someone told me there’s a library somewhere in the close!