Cave tours are just the start of what’s on offer at the Wookey Hole Resort. Carved over millions of years by the action of the River Mendip, which still flows through this otherwise unassuming village in the depths of rural Somerset, the caves are fascinating in their own right. As a family-friendly half-hour tour reveals, they were once inhabited by Iron Age peoples (and their animals), as well as at one point being home to a woman who was said to be a witch by the villagers. Fleeing from a priest sent in to drive her away, she died within them.
Inside lie rugged paths and metal walkways through an enchanting netherworld of stalactites, stalagmites and impressive geological formations – plus cheese (local Cheddar is kept to age down here – you can sample, and buy it, in the on-site shops). If the caves seem familiar, you may be recognising them from some of the Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes, which were filmed here.
Today, as well touring the caves, you can stay at an on-site hotel with a leering witch statue at the entrance and a roofscape that includes a witch's-hat-shaped turret. And your Wookey Hole ticket includes a riotous 4D cinema experience with tilting, rocking, bum-pummelling seats that help you feel you’re part of a mad rollercoaster escape from the Wookey Witch. Incredible visual effects include huge 3D spiders that seem to crawl towards you out of the screen, which had much of the audience – adults and kids’ alike – squealing.
Wookey Hole also comprises a Fairy Garden and Dinosaur Valley with prehistoric models to stroll around, and, in the former mill building, displays and demonstrations of paper-making, which you can try out for yourself. There’s also a small museum of cave-diving, circus shows, a penny arcade, a softplay area, a mirror maze, a penny arcade and a pirate-themed adventure golf course.
All in all, it’s a crazy mix of quite disparate elements and a lot of fun. What makes it specially worth pointing out is its location en route to Dorset, Devon or Cornwall, making it perfect for those who want to break their journey to longer family holidays in south-west England, as we were.
We stayed in Wookey Hole Hotel itself, which offers packages including accommodation, breakfast and attraction entry. While fairly basic, it has clean, comfortable rooms that can sleep up to five and surprisingly good food in its Captain Jack’s Restaurant, from burgers or curry to seabass. But make sure to save room for a trip to Wookey's own ice-cream parlour with its award-winning local treats in a fantastic array of both classic and innovative flavours.
Packages at Wookey Hole Hotel start at £99/night for two adults and two children including attraction tickets, a round of crazy golf, Continental breakfast, children’s fun packs and free evening entry to the play barn. Alternatively, you can stay at Mendip View Luxury Lodges with hot tubs on the grounds, or at nearby Bucklegrove Holiday Park. Read more about family holidays and breaks in Somerset.