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Wookey Hole (Somerset)

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Caves. Wookey Hole Caves, Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset BA5 1BB. Tel: +44(0) 1749 672 243.

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      17.08.2013 14:55

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      Overall an excellent day out

      I visited Wookey hole last week. I went with my family. There was 12 of us. We had a brilliant day out! The staff were very welcoming n very helpful. We went through the caves where we told some of the history. It was interesting. There was a circus show which I really enjoyed even though my kids wernt sat with me. There was a play area for the kids and my kids had loads of fun in there. There was also an area where there is balls where kids can shoot balls to each other. There is a seating area for parents. Myself and the kids had a really good time having a ball fight. We were there for over an hour. We also got complimentary crazy golf tickets. Even though it was raining it didn't stop us having a brilliant time. It was such a shame the day came to an end. Glad I didn't go off the negative reviews and went to visit it and judge for myself. Your day out is how you make it. Even if its not what you were expecting you should make it the you want it by getting involved and becoming a kid again yourself

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      29.08.2011 23:56
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      Good value for a rainy day when in somerset, avoid the resturant its yuck

      We visited Wookey Hole a few weeks agao while camping in Brean Sands. The trip from brean sands is about 30 Mins away. It is a nice drive too and is very well sign posted although there are some windy lanes on the way up to wookey so be careful. Myself, husband and 4 year old made the trip along with two other adults an 8 year old and a two year old. The price was £38.00 for the three of us under 2's are free. I found the ticket quite pricey before going in. Firstly there is a tour of the caves, its very dark and I would advise that if you have a small torch take it, also if you do not like small spaces this is not for you. My 4 year old loved the tour it gave a history of the caves and also the tale of the wookey witch! Also if you are a Dr who fan then you can see where parts of the programme was filmed. The ground can be slippy, I wore wellies and I would recommend this if raining, if you have a small child in a pram the tour would not be for you as there are a number of steps and narrow walk ways. After the tour you came to an outside part with fairy gardens, king kong dragons and dinosours...bizzare mish mash but the kids loved it. Although when we went it was raning this is a perfect place for a picnic if nice. Then we entered a circus exibition with the history of the circus I found this interesting but can be boring for small children. We then went into the mill where you can make paper, the children can become involved and this is very intresting. Walking through the mill there is a small cafe and a soft play area, this can become cramped so take care, the whole place really isn't pram friendly. The soft play was enjoyed by the children with us but as said it is really cramped and for us adults it wasn't really enjoyable at all! Then there is a small walk to the mirrors, the children were not really fussed on this but I really enjoyed seeing myself tall fat thin and warped. There is also a mirror maze, take care with the children if doing this as it can be danagerous but my little one loved it! There is an old penny arcade - one word pointless its full of old machines that you have to change your money into old pennies to use Food I would advise to take sandwiches, the big top resturant was overpriced and the food we had was awful so was the service the lady serving was verging on the point of rude avoid if possible. The circus show was amazing, my four year old was so amazed, it contains children who train two hours a week in circus skills. There was trapeze artists, hoola hoop tricks, bike tricks, balancing acts and lots of other skills. The children are so talented and we were all astounded at their level of brilliance! We visited the shop as always overpriced but there are some lovely little trinkets but you need a big bank balance to get any.

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      31.10.2009 11:23
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      Just about recommended!

      This review is about Wookey Hole which I recently visited on holiday. The caves at Wookey are really interesting to visit. You are given a guided tour around the caves. You learn about some of the legends about the caves and some of the history of them. For example you learn that the first and the deepest cave dives have been at Wookey but not from the same dive. The caves themselves are really interesting to look around. The caves are very beautiful in parts especially the bit where you go over a small bridge and below there is some water and above and around you parts of the cave with all sorts of rocks, minerals e.t.c I think the tour of the caves lasted about an hour and was definitely by far the best part of the visit. You also see some of the cave matured cheese they have at Wookey Hole which you can buy in the shop! It was very expensive though and about £15 per kilo! You also found out about some of the scenes filmed there. In the cave there were so low sections and most people will have to duck at parts so it may not be suitable for everyone. There are other things apart from the caves at Wookey Hole but nothing is that great and will hold your attention for a long time. There is a mirror maze there as well which is good and clever but is very short. It will probably last most people about 3 minutes to finish! However it was good fun still. There is also a traditional paper mill where they are one of the places to make paper in the old fashioned way. Children also get a chance to make a sheet of paper but for some reason can`t keep it which is a shame. The Museum is attached to the Paper mill and has a section about the Neanderthals which was quite interesting but again this was very small. There was also some information about King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor and the legends of King Arthur. This was all quite interesting but again quite short. At Wookey Hole there were various cafes, restaurants and an ice cream place. The food and drink was quite nice but also expensive. I am always amazed how much you can get ripped off for a few drinks and a cake or something! There was also a little playarea for children which looked quite good but I don't really know how nice it was as I did not try it myself! After leaving the caves you arrive at dinosaur valley where there is some model dinosaurs which are a bit naff to be honest but children may lie it and there is some information about the dinosaurs which may mean children learn something about dinosaurs. There was a room where you get to watch some videos. There was one video about cave diving which showed you how dangerous it could be and some of the equipment they use. I have to say I would not like to have a go though as it looks quite scary! The other video I watched was about making paper the old fashioned way. It showed you all the different processes and what each person had to do to make it work. Also there was a section about the circus with some displays from old circuses. One thing was something that was meant to be the Abominable Snowman but looked like a human in a white gorilla suit! There were also some of the caravans from circuses which were quite interesting. I also saw a mini-golf section but you had to pay extra to have a go but it did look quite fun. There was also a shops area which sold the usual sort of things. You could also buy paper from their paper mill and cheese from the caves! As you would expect they were expensive as they are quite high quality products! Overall I enjoyed visiting Wookey Hole caves but feel there is not that much to do there. The caves themselves were great and beautiful in parts. However the other little parts were not so great and don`t last very long. I would recommend a visit though but think I would not pay with cash to go there so I think you should take advantage of the clubcard vouchers! Price The entrance fee is quite expensive for what is there and cost £45 for a family ticket and is £15 per adult and £10 per child. I think that £30 would be a fair price for what is there but we did pay with Clubcard Vouchers which made the price not so bad! This review may appear elsewhere under the names mariofan123 and ns1209. Information The Wookey Hole address is: Wookey Hole Ltd. Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset BA5 1BB, England Opening Times Wookey Hole is open 7 days a week: Summertime: (Apr-Oct Inc): 10am (first tour) - 5pm (Last Cave Tour) Wintertime: (Nov-Mar Inc): 10am (first tour) - 4pm (Last Cave Tour) Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Open weekends and school holidays during December and January

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        31.08.2009 22:10

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        don't bother!

        Total waste of a day! - After parking the car what seemed about a mile away, my Partner and I had to que for over an hour to get to the pay cubicle (it's only when you get to to the cubicle that there is a sign telling that it's going to cost £15 per person to get in!!) Once paid we walked along towards the caves and guess what?..........Yep, another long que. One of the officials did come out to say that the que would take well over 1/2 an hour to clear. I noticed that our tickets stated that 'no refunds' were given, But after waiting for this length of time we decided to try our luck and get a refund which we succeeded in doing after explaining that i should of been told about the waiting at the time of purchase. We wasted the best part of a day in a que and had we been told about this would never have done it.

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        02.08.2009 21:48
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        Not really value for money.

        What can i say about Wookey Hole? We queued for about half an hour to get our tickets and then took the well worn, picturesque bath to the entrance, where we were escorted down some very steep and even slippier steps and told a story about the resident Witch which ended with a couple of children clinging for dear life on to their parents legs, and others who just didn't give a fig. The caves were ok as far as caves go i guess but i found it a little too fast. In and out like a rat up a drainpipe. It was not the most fascinating of days out but we had good money off coupons that saved us over £15 for the two of us so i can't complain. A word of advice, please don't go in heels ladies because you will break both your legs and have to be carted off by some random fireman. Actually, that sounds like such good fun, think i will run for the shoes and cry out for the fireman. After leaving the dank, dark dreary caves, we came upon some penny arcades and mirrors that were not too flattering. On one occassion i looked like that little woman out of the Crankees, not flattering at all. A nice garden area was about the best part of the day. I cannot say i would go back or recommend it to anybody i know either. Still, the sun was shining, but not in the caves!

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        27.07.2009 11:00

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        DONT GO

        For Heavens Sake... dont bother going... We have just returned from a "Day Trip" to Wookey Hole..... My husband and I took our daughte (14) and it cost us £40 for the ticket.... The caves are a waste of time... the tour to see the witch etc lasted approximately 30 minutes! The caves in themselves were ok, but what a disappoiment with the tacky lighting and the pathetic attempts at the "Witch of Wookey Hole" Having spent 2 hours driving there (and we only came from Gloucester) we arrived at lunchtime...... nowhere even half decent to eat apart from the local pub, which looked excellent but was full, so we decamped to a local "cafe"... staight out of the 1920s........ What a complete and utter joke! THIS REALLY IS RIP OFF BRITIAN AT ITS VERY BEST.... take my advice.... keep your £40 plus and take your children to somewhere far nicer...... NEVER again will I go and more to the point NEVER will I recommend anyone going there..... completely shambolic, the coffee shop was dirty, grubby plastic spoons and they couldnt wait to shut and this is in the heigh of Summer!

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        17.07.2009 02:13
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        Not great value for money

        I'm back from our day trip there today. Fairly tired to be honest, but here is the low down. Travel I drove by minibus from the West Midlands, and it took us over 2 and ½ hours. Past Bristol the roads started to get very narrow and we had to reverse a few times to let people past. This would have been the same for a car. We planned our route using Satellite Navigation. Picnic Area There are about 8 tables split on two levels. They are both up a hill with steps and would not be suitable for wheelchair users. I am unsure if there are other areas. When we started to have lunch it came on to rain. There were tables available under the shelter of trees but these were being used. We found shelter in a clearing under trees and enjoyed a lovely picnic. Toilets Facilities are at the entrance to the attraction. They were clean, well stocked and with ample cubicles in the females. Price I have to admit that as a group we try to get the best deal possible. We have a limited budget and try to get the most from it. For four students 16-19 on the Autistic spectrum (two with student ID - not presented) and three carers we paid £55.00 - don't ask me for the breakdown of how or why - it should have been £95.00 so we took the tickets and ran! That's right, standard adult price is £15.00 per person, children - £10.00. Guide book/leaflet ~ Map We were not given a guide with our ticket. It was advertised that SOUVENIR guide books were £2.00 - we bought one for our notice board but I thought that given the standard price they might throw a cheap map in for good measure! THE CAVES These were.....OUTSTANDING. Were they worth the drive and the price? I think for what we paid- certainly but for the standard entry fee, perhaps not. Lots of mood lighting and an interactive guide who let the students help him in his presentation. He was very friendly and I tipped him (my own money, not budget money) as he really made the experience a good one. He told us they filmed part of Harry Potter The Philosopher's Stone in them... when he saw the movie he couldn't be 100% sure where, but as a group they thought it was the scene with "Fluffy" the three-headed dog. He also said David Tennant had been there recently recording scenes for Dr Who. The rest... A bit 'nothingy' really. Some arcades and exhibitions... A few soft play areas... they were able to make paper which was, 'ok', but as it takes 3days to dry they didn't bring anything away with them and because of this I don't think the concept of what they had done was fully grasped. There is a mirror maze which gave us a few giggles - most notably when everyone notice I was walking along like a spaceman, arms outstretched in fear of bumping into myself! To conclude It was an ambitious day trip and we had to leave promptly. I don't feel we missed much though and we were there for less than 2hours. I wish it was cheaper because it is well worth a look, maybe even more than once. At £15.00 a time though, my conscience only allows me to leave it up to your discretion, rather than a "you just HAVE to go"!

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          28.06.2009 10:45
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          A great place to spend half a day, but it's not worth the expense

          I first visited Wookey Hole caves at the age of 7 or 8 with my primary school in Taunton, it was a different entrance and caves were all you got for the entrance fee. My partner also visited them years ago, and we both agree one thing - they were scary. So much so, that I had bad dreams for weeks not wanting to be turned into stone like the Wicked Witch! Over the years, the attraction has developed, and at one point they housed heads from Madame Tussauds which was definitely worth a look at. On my last visit (about 5 months ago) I took my partner, my eldest daughter (17), her boyfriend and my partner's daughter (13). I knew it would be expensive, but £70 is pretty steep. There is no doubt that the caves are beautiful, carved in limestone out of the Mendip Hills in North Somerset a few miles from Wells, but I really can't justify the charges. The entrance to the caves is set in the hillside and it's a little bit of a climb - this is certainly not somewhere you want to go if you're a little unsteady on your feet as it's very slippery in places. There are a few bits of the cave that I remember well - the wicked witch, a chamber with a boat tied up on the far side (which is still there some 30+ years on), a chamber in the shape of a bowl (carved out by a whirlpool effect when the river floods), and a bridge spanning a ravine to avoid the really pungent cheese that they cure down in the caves - visit it at your peril! They still a paper making exhibition where you can see how it used to be made, there's also a small museum area of artefacts found in and around the caves, there's now a circus school, a few dinosaur models hidden around, a teddy bear museum and penny arcades. Wookey Hole is one place that I love and would visit again - if the entrance fee could be justified. The rating of 4* is for the caves (5*) and accompanying attractions (3*) - not for the price!

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          22.06.2009 13:16
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          Well worth a visit

          LOCATION Wookey Hole is situated in Somerset, around 20 miles from both Bath and Bristol and just 2 miles from Wells. THE PLACE ITSELF Car parking is free and there is a good sized car park with clean toilets located before the entrance. Alongside the caves there are a number of other smaller attractions so you can expect to spend around half a day at Wookey Hole. When visiting the caves themselves you are guided around by a tour guide who knows a vast amount of information surrounding the caves and the myths around it regarding the witch that used to live in the caves. He also makes it a fun experience for the children as the tour lasts around 30-45 minutes and they may begin to get bored. The caves are spectacular and you will no doubt find yourself amazed by the structure and tremendous appearence of the caves. You may also spot some wildlife as the cave is home to bats. Alongside the caves you can visit the Monster Mill which contains a number of things including an old style penny arcade, the wookey hole cave museum, the world of minature and the chance to make some paper. Depending on what your family enjoy doing, a good hour can be spent wandering around here. For an additional charge, you can also play Pirate Adventure Golf. We didnt play this as the prices were quite steep on top of admission prices (adults-£3.50, children £2.50 or a family £10). You will also get a chance to see the Wookey Hole circus which puts on 3 shows a day and includes juggling, skating, unicycles, wire walking and bungee and trapeze skills. In addition to this, after leaving the caves you will walk through a number of statues including dinosaurs, king kong and other wild animals such as lions. MY OPINION I think Wookey Hole is a really fun day out which all the family will enjoy. It is quite difficult to spend the whole day at Wookey Hole as you will run out of things to do but by taking your time rather than rushing you can easily spend a good half day there. My favourite piece of the day was looking around the caves due to the sheer volume of them and their shock appearance. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Wookey Hole is open 7 days a week April-October it is open 10-5 and November until March it is open 10-4. It is closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Standard admission prices are as follows: Adults £15 Children £10 Family (2+2 not valid with online orders) £45 Additional Children £9.50 Concessions (Senior Citizens, Students) £10 Children under 3 years are free You can book online and save 15% For additional information please see http://www.wookey.co.uk/

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            13.05.2009 13:26
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            Almost would be worth the money for the cave itself, were it not for the tawdry add-ons after

            Average four stars at the time of writing? You have got to be joking - I can't see anyone rating this giant, tacky rip-off in darkest Somerset any higher than a 'three' - and that's for the cave itself, which don't get me wrong, is fantastic. Mother nature, left to her - or its - own devices got it 100% right there - and the setting of the cave, the natural features inside it are beautiful - quite lovely. But then some - gang of colour-blind berks, as we who have witnessed the end results of their tawdry labours can only assume are running the place - came along and loused it all up with their 'improvements'. They fitted nasty coloured lighting in the caves. They charge you an arm and a leg to get into the so-called 'attraction'. They built this awful concrete dino-world in the middle of what would have, presumably, been some kind of beautifully wooded Mendip valley. And the on-site restaurant! Some of the worst canteen food, bar none, that you'll find in this part of the world (outside of the marine aquarium's cafe in Weston-Super-Mare). You get rushed through the cave in a poorly-guided tour (take a torch; don't bang your head on the low-hanging rock formations and watch your footing; this slippery-floored place is a health-and-safety accident waiting to happen - someone is going to get seriously hurt, some day, because the tour set up is, I would say, dangerous and rubbish) in about 15-20 minutes - then it's on to the 'arcades' and shopping areas, crazy golf (price not included in entrance fee) and restaurant where they can squeeze you dry for even more of your pennies. At £15 per adult - £15! I kid you not - for a 20 minute tour of some nice caves, followed up by an hour and a half or so or trudging through bad concrete 'showpieces' this set-up is astonishingly bad value. PS - it took us an age to drive from the M5 to the cave in off-season April - it wasn't particularly busy but the access roads are very narrow and winding. What it'll be like there come high season, when everyone in the south-west thinks they'll have to visit local because of the credit crunch, I dread to think.

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              11.02.2009 15:59

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              What a complete waste of money! The caves were lovely, but after 30 mins, it's all over and you're left with some plastic animals to look at and a childrens circus which was boring. Too much hype for what it was. I would never advise anyone to go here. 2 1/2 hours is all we could stretch our day out to!!!

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              30.10.2008 23:14
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              A great place to look at beautiful formed cliffs and streams.

              Wookey Hole Caves is a show cave and tourist attraction in the village of Wookey Hole on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills near Wells in Somerset. So not far from me atall.But only visited twice.Such wonderful caves and views.Upon my visit here,I was mesmerized by the beauty of the caves from start to finish.When entering with other guests,you are greeted by a tour guide,which talks you through the wonders and reason's of the cave.Made up tales of witches and such, for added excitement. Through our walks,we passed underground streams,and beautifully shaped cliffs and rocks.Listening to the guide stories and looking around is a wonderful experience.I enjoyed every minute.There are bridges that goes over some of the streams,so you get a good look at the waters below you.They have a small circular stream where you can throw coins in for luck,which I thought was nice.As you enter the main centre of wookey hole,the ceiling is really low,so you need to duck a little.But the cave walls looks beautifully shinny with the biggest stream in the middle,which apparently rises at certain times,right up to ceiling height, so then this means that this room can not be entered obviously due to the dangers. Unfortunately wheelchair users can not gain access to the cave due to it having 200 steps.So buggy users would have the same problem.There are places where visitors will need to duck to about 1.3 metres. I love the legend and the story of "The wooky witch" on my visit. The story ----------- A man from Glastonbury is betrothed to a girl from Wookey. A witch living in Wookey Hole Caves curses the romance so that it fails. The man, now a monk, seeks revenge on this witch who--having been jilted herself--frequently spoils budding relationships. The monk stalks the witch into the cave and she hides a in dark corner near one of the underground rivers. The monk blesses the water and splashes some of it at the dark parts of the cave. Catching the witch off guard, the monk splashes the water at the dark corner she is hiding in.The blessed water immediately petrifies the witch, reputedly turning her into stone,so now all is there is a roughly human shaped rock outcrop,and she remains in the cave to this day. Even though we know it is not a real story,it fascinated us. The caves, at a constant temperature of 11 °C (52 °F), have been used by humans for around 50,000 years. The low temperature means that the caves can be used for maturing Cheddar cheese The area around the Caves is also worth a visit.There's also a paper mill, the oldest functioning example of its type, at over four centuries old.There is a valley full of large dinosaur models, a magic garden with elves, dragons and other fairy creatures and a children's play zone themed along pirate ship lines. So wooky hole is a great day out for all the family.so much to see and do even outside the caves. Admission prices --------------------- Adults £15.00 Children £10.00 (3 to 14) Family 2xA 2xC £45.00 Additional children under 14 £9.50 Children under 3yrs free Concessions (Senior Citizens, Students)£10.00 Schools (5 -19) 12 students or more Schools £7.00 per student 1 adult free every 10 children (10 or over) (Groups 12 people or more) Adults £10.00 Children £8.00 Concessions (Senior Citizens, Students) £8.00

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                28.08.2008 19:08
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                Worth a visit if near the area its not far from Bath

                After visiting this year I do intend to visit again in the future. Ok the prices are not the cheapest but it is well worth it. The only part I did not like was the fact I was happy I had managed to get the whole way around the guided tour of the caves without either falling over or seeing a spider - only for the guide to show us a whole heap of spiders above our heads with a torch on the way out! Everyone was amazed when the guide informed us that the one cave we were in with clear blue water which looked only a foot or so deep was infact around 15 feet deep! Kids will love the running around the fairly garden and having a bit to eat under the dinosaurs! As well as the old penny arcade. It is a walk uphill to the entrance of the cave and lots of steps once inside so might not be the best place to visit for people who know they could struggle with that sort of thing I teamed it with a visit to Longleat, staying the night in a hotel midway between

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                20.07.2005 21:00
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                Worth going to for the caves, but could take or leave the rest - at risk of over-development?

                INTRODUCTION Wookey Hole, a system of caves near Wells in Somerset, is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a long time. The caves have the reputation of being among, if not, the most spectacular show caves in the country. So when on a family holiday in the area last week, I was determined to go. However, since I was holidaying with my husband, a baby and a three year old, I was concerned about whether it would be a suitable place for all of us. I checked the Wookey Hole website, www.wookey.co.uk, for information, and found that, as well as the caves, there are a number of other attractions at the site, and that it markets itself as a family-orientated attraction. So far, so good – but I was still unsure about taking the baby and three year old underground. The website warns that the caves are (unsurprisingly) not accessible to pushchairs, but I figured that it would be possible for my husband and I to visit the caves in turn, while the other parent stayed outside in the “kiddie zone”. Well, that was the plan anyway. GETTING THERE Wookey Hole is 2 miles North-West of Wells in Somerset, off the A371 towards Cheddar. It is very easy to find by car, as it is well signposted with brown signs from Wells, and if you are coming from the West, all the way from the M5 motorway (exit at Jn 22). There is a large, free car park at the attraction. The website gives a phone number to call for bus times (0870 608 2608) but I imagine that most visitors do go by car, given the rural location. ADMISSION Wookey Hole is open every day except Christmas Day, from 10am until 5pm (last tour) in the summer, and until 4pm in the winter, November to March inclusive. However, our guide did mention that the caves habitually flood in winter, usually around Christmas week, so if you are planning to visit at that time of year, you would be well advised to phone and check on the water levels, as access may be restricted for safety reasons. The admission price, covering all the attractions at the site is £9.90 for Adults, and £7.50 for Children (4-14). However, we paid using Tesco Deal Tokens (available through the Tesco Clubcard loyalty scheme), which meant that it was only £2.50 for each adult, and the children were free, as they were both under 4. If you have older children, a family ticket is available at £29.50. There is also a reduced entry fee, £7.50, for students, senior citizens and the disabled – although you should note that visitors in wheelchairs can only visit one attraction at the site, the Paper Mill, as all other parts are not wheelchair accessible. Those only visiting the Mill can enter at half price. Discounts are also available for groups. As I mentioned above, we initially didn’t plan to take the children into the caves. However, when we questioned the man at the entrance kiosk, we learnt that it would be very difficult to access the other attractions without going through the caves, due to the way that the site is laid out. You have to walk up to the entrance to the caves along the river, but the exit from the caves is on the other side of the river, where you then walk back down the valley and into the Mill. He did assure us though that the caves were suitable for children. There was a “pushchair park” adjacent to the kiosk, and (he said) we could collect the baby’s transport on leaving the caves – which I shall return to later. THE CAVES The walk up to the caves’ entrance was very pleasant, along a leafy, shady path next to the river. However, it was uphill and took about 10 minutes, which is long enough when carrying a baby on a hot day. We also found out the hard way that it is advisable to make sure that you have all been to the toilet BEFORE leaving the car park area, as it’s a long walk down, and back up again. There were two benches outside the entrance, where we sat and waited for about 10 minutes for the next tour to begin. The caves themselves certainly did not disappoint. On the tour our guide, a young woman, recounted some of the history and legends associated with the caves – most noticeably, the witch of Wookey. The witch was said to have been turned to stone by a young priest with holy water, and there is a huge stalactite in the second chamber that does resemble (if you squint and use a bit of imagination) the face of an ugly old woman. The guide played down the “scary factor” as there were a number of children in our group, and fortunately there were no tears or tantrums. The guide led us through a number of different chambers, some surprisingly large, and all containing interesting rock formations and different colours on the walls from mineral deposits – largely red, from iron oxide. In the second chamber the river Axe forms a small, green lake, and there were huge stalagmites and stalactites, some of which were picked out by red and blue lighting, adding to the unworldly atmosphere. Further on the tour, we walked across metal pathways suspended 15 or 20 foot in the air over the water, through chambers which were not originally accessible on foot, but which were tunnelled into by previous owners of the site to allow greater access. These led into a final vast, spectacular “cathedral” cavern, chamber 9. However, there are many more chambers in the cave system than are accessible to the general public, and which can only be accessed underwater. In fact, Wookey Hole was the birthplace of British cave-diving, back in 1935. We didn’t see any divers down in the caves, but saw some of their guide ropes fixed in place, from their base in Chamber 9 leading down into seemingly impossibly tight gaps. Rather them than me! OTHER ATTRACTIONS When you step out of the caves into the bright sunlight, the heat really hits you and you realise how cool the caves were. The river Axe flows out from under a limestone wall, and there is a viewing platform where you can stand and look at it making its picturesque way down the valley. There is also some seating arranged around the trunks of a couple of old yew trees, and I settled myself there to feed the baby while my husband and elder son went to fetch the pushchair. They were gone for quite some time! It transpired that it is not easy at all to return to the pushchair park from this point – you have to walk through all the other attractions, including those arranged like a labyrinth inside the Paper Mill, before you can get back to where you started. And then of course, you have to return up the valley. I think that the owners of Wookey Hole should think about this situation, because being able to return babies or smaller children to a pushchair at this point means that you are able to enjoy the children-orientated attractions in the valley – otherwise, you would tend to rush past them. Perhaps they could consider providing a few strollers for visitors’ use through the valley and mill, to be returned on exit. So, what are these attractions? The main thing is the natural beauty of the valley itself, but there are additional exhibits, which tie into the ancient history of the site and wider area. The first that you encounter is “the Fairy Garden”, an area that is supposed to contain fairies, dragons and elves, but was somewhat disappointing, as it still appeared to be under construction. More exciting was “Dinosaur Valley”, which contained life-sized model dinosaurs – although they were crammed into a fairly small area, that we decided was more like “Dinosaur Yard”. There was a nice picnic area though, with a huge wooden dinosaur sculpture that children could sit on. Inside the Mill itself, you can watch paper being made using original Victorian machinery and even have a go at making some yourself. There is, naturally, a gift shop selling all the paper products. There is also a café, with a seating area and soft-play area for children in the corridor. My eldest son loved this, but unfortunately the play area for toddlers was in a different room, so my husband and myself had to split up, when we would have liked to sit down together and enjoy a coffee (another small thing that could be improved in the layout). The other area of note in the building was the “cave museum”, which exhibited finds made in the caves, and had some interesting films about cave diving. And then there was the Victorian Arcade and Mirror maze. Gerry Cottle, of circus fame, currently owns Wookey Hole and, I’m afraid, it showed in this final, dreadful pile of old tat, which didn’t seem in keeping at all with the rest of the site. We couldn’t help but suspect that he had picked up a load of old Penny Arcade games on the cheap and hoped that we would all part with lots of cash if he forced us to walk through them! SUMMARY We spent about three and a half hours at Wookey Hole. The caves were truly the star attraction, and the entrance price – for us – of £2.50 was easily worth it just to see them. The other “attractions” seemed a bit disjointed, and we could have taken or left them, but overall I would recommend it as family day out, if you don’t mind carrying smaller children.

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                  11.10.2001 18:38
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                  6 years ago, while I was an impoverished student, I had a holiday job as a tour guide at Wookey Hole Caves, so feel well-qualified to explain why you should all visit. Admittedly, the admission charge is extortionate, but many attractions are similarly-priced, and offer far less entertainment. After paying at the ticket office, you face a trek uphill to the cave entrance. This walk (approx 400m) is fine for adults, but young children and OAPs may struggle. Be warned though, it's nothing compared to the caves!! You view the caves by guided tour (hence my employment!) This is fine on a quiet day, when there are only 20-30 in a group, but when it's busy (Bank Holidays etc.), you face a long queue, plus 90-100 in a group, so you may have problems hearing the guide. The caves are really quite interesting (honestly!). As well as learning a little geology, you are told about local archaeological finds and about the "witch of Wookey". The guide's speech is enhanced by clever lighting effects, designed to pick out items of interest, as well as to entertain. My personal favourite is Chamber 3, the lowest point in the showcaves, which is shaped like a discus - you're under about 500ft of Mendip Hill at that point. One warning - children get scared in the caves, regularly. It's dark, damp and echoing. Bits of the witches story are quite frightening. Use caution when bringing toddlers. After the cave tour (please tip the guide - he hardly gets paid anything!), you head down the canal path to the millhouse. Inside the millhouse, you'll find a variety of exhibitions (changing constantly), as well as the paper mill (very interesting - displays of papermaking go on year-round), the "Victorian Funfair", with disorientating Mirror maze and traditional "penny-slot machines", and the cave museum (quite frankly, a bit of a disappointment for all but the keenest geologist/histo rian). All in all, with a 25 minute cave tour, and at least 2 hours of entertainment in the showcaves, as well as a well-stocked gift shop, and reasonable restaurant, Wookey Hole is a great place for a morning or afternoon out.

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