SOMERSET, AVON & WILTSHIRE
Somerset is a place of superlatives: Exmoor has Britain’s tallest tree, the highest sea cliffs and the most red deer. Take a wildlife safari to observe it all. It’s also a Dark Sky Reserve and has the second highest tidal range in the world. Birdwatchers should head to Steart Marshes, one of the UK’S largest new wetland reserves. On the edge of the Mendip Hills, Cheddar has the largest gorge in England with the biggest underground river and the highest inland cliff. The village was the site of a Saxon palace for the kings of Wessex. At Wookey Hole, the UK’S largest cave system, kids will love the Valley of the Dinosaur and the 4D cinema with moving chairs, wind effects and 3D screen. A newly discovered cave is now open and a caving experience means you can have a go at traversing, climbing and abseiling. For an aerial spectacle, head to the Somerset Levels and the Avalon Marshes, one of Britain’s finest lowland wetlands, for starling murmurations. In Wiltshire, Longleat safari park is hosting a Killer Animatronics exhibition, where you can see predators come to life. Exhibits include a life-size great white shark and a super-sized Venus flytrap. Other events include the Food and Drink Festival (23-24 June) and Sky Safari (14-16 September). The newly opened REME Museum in Lyneham, Chippenham, is dedicated to the story of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, formed in 1942, and holds an extensive collection of vehicles and weapons dating from WWII.
Shipshape and Bristol fashion
There are plenty of reasons to visit Bristol, which became a UNESCO City of Film in 2017 for its contribution to the film industry. It’s home to Aardman Animations, which has established a new city sculpture trail for 2018 in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael’s Hospital. A newly opened museum, Being Brunel, devoted to the life and works of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is located alongside his SS Great Britain, the first iron-clad, propellerdriven ship to cross the Atlantic. In August, the spectacular Bristol International Balloon Fiesta takes to the sky, celebrating its 40th year. The Georgian city of Bath will host its multi-arts festival in May, and the Bath Carnival in July. Take an open-top bus tour to see the city’s layout before picking out what you want to see.
■ Turn to p79 of the Top 100 guide for site info
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT The beautiful city of Bath is a must-visit at any time of the year. The new REME museum in Lyneham. Hot-air balloons will be flying in Bristol this August