Ever since I was a child I have wanted to visit Wookey Hole after missing out on a school trip in Primary School.
Somehow we just never got there and then when the Isaac, Eliza and Sebastian came along we assumed it would be unsuitable for little ones.
I was researching things to do over the summer and decided to look at the Wookey Hole website, finding an attraction that was fully geared up for guests young and old. With the caves, crazy golf, 4D cinema, Dinosaurs, Fairy Garden, Victorian Penny Arcade, Circus and Museum it was clear there was plenty to do.
I looked online and found a BOGOF offer that expired last weekend, so we bit the bullet and drove 2 hours west to the Wookey Hole Caves which are a series of limestone caverns, show cave and tourist attraction in the village of Wookey Hole on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills near Wells in Somerset.
When we arrived we were impressed by the huge hotel, complete with witches hat and the toilets which were aptly named for witches and wizards rather than men and women.
We purchased our tickets in the cafe by the car park, slightly disappointed that the BOGOF offer only applied to adults, but we still saved £18 on the visit, booked tickets for the next screening of the 4D cinema and then headed across the road to explore.
The one thing that lets Wookey Hole down is its signage. It is clear how to get to the caves but the actual attraction is like a rabbit warren. The staff were friendly and helpful, but even their directions were too long and got a little confusing.
As we walked through the shop and found a soft play area in front of us and to the right was an old-fashioned Victorian arcade complete with a maze of mirrors, penny machines and even a mini carousel.
Kian, Isaac and Eliza did the mirror maze a few times, before we headed off to see what else we could find. It was getting close to the 4D cinema showing, so we asked directions (again) and headed off, through another soft play area.
Isaac and Eliza don’t like the 4D cinema, so hubby took Kian whilst we explored and agreed to meet them in soft play when they had finished.
As we walked through, we found a lady demonstrating how paper was made in the 1800’s. Isaac was fascinated and even got a chance to help her.
Once that was finished we headed outside in search of some dinosaurs!
We could hear the 4D cinema showing its film as we walked past and found our Dinosaurs. There was lots of them to see and Isaac kept everyone amused singing the Dinosaur Raps from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures.
As we walked through Dinosaur Valley, we found a huge Gorilla on the other side before finding the relaxing fairy garden, complete with clear stream, gargoyles and even a mermaid!
You walk around in a large circle before heading back through Dinosaur Valley and back inside.
We arrived back in the soft play area about 5 minutes before hubby and Kian. They thoroughly enjoyed the 4D “The Lost World” film, which was all about dinosaurs. We stopped to have a bite to eat and the kids had a chance to test out the soft play.
The caves tours run every 20 minutes – on the hour, 20 past and 20. You cannot take buggies inside, so hubby swapped it over with the baby carrier and set off aiming for the 20 past tour. We were pleasantly surprised by how quiet it was.
Eliza and Isaac were a little nervous as we headed inside, and didn’t like the first part of the tour as the guide told us all about the story of the witch and other cave inhabitants, complete with dramatic lighting and sound effects, but as we headed down into the caves they soon relaxed and began to enjoy it.
Even if you are not interested in geology like me, the caves are spectacular. There is a WOW moment around every corner. You walk on a mixture of the cave floor and metal walkways and you do have to duck down low to mind your head a few times. Isaac and Kian were soon identifying stalagmites and stalactites.
We took Sebastian in his baby carrier, but ended up taking him off Daddy’s back at couple of times as the roof was so low and it was easier to carry him through as we had to duck down very low.
Gerry Cottle, Wookey Holes’s owner, has brought cheese back to Wookey Hole to mature in the cave’s ideal conditions. Four hundred years ago there was no refrigeration and the caves were the ideal place to mature cheeses. The temperature is a constant 11°C all year round, and the high humidity is also ideal to stop the cheese drying out during its maturation storage. It did make the cave smell of old feet though.
The visitors that were scared of heights were taken out a different exit at this point, but we carried on until we exited into the sunlight.
We then found ourselves back in the fairy garden and Isaac and Eliza excitedly showed Kian and Daddy what they had seen earlier.
It was then time to head back inside to see the circus which is made up of students who have been training for over a year to perfect their various skills which include juggling, the unicycle, roller skating, wire walking, rope and silks, bungee skills and the trapeze. The show was comperedby the Wookey Witch and a rather lanky but amusing clown.
I have to admit it did start a little slowly but we were all drawn in by the increasingly daring stunts, magic tricks and an amazing unicycle finale!
Once they had finished we had a look around the circus museum which is packed full of clown memorabilia as well as a full-scale model of a circus and fayre from the 19th Century. Isaac adored acting the fool – a clown of the future perhaps?
We rounded off the day with a game of pirate themed crazy golf. I am pretty sure there was a lot of cheating going on, but we had fun nonetheless.
Despite the poor signage we had an amazing time at Wookey Hole and it really is a full day out for all the family and all the activities are included in the price of entry, with the exception of the penny slot machines and the mini carousel.
For more information, events and offers you can find Wookey Hole on facebook and follow then on twitter at @WookeyHole. They have some fabulous offers on at the hotel, so hoping to stay there next time and visit Cheddar Gorge too!