disclosure: we were offered free entry in exchange for an honest review
You would hope that the start of the school holidays would signal long, sunny days but it seems that that certainly wasn’t to be the case this year! On Saturday we headed down to closeby to Wells in Somerset, with raincoats at the ready, to spend time exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day. Would it be able to keep our teenager entertained, and all of us dry?
The OH had visited many years ago, but, although I’ve visited caves when I’ve been abroad, a number of times, Wookey Hole is somewhere I’d never been to before and would be a first for my thirteen-year-old too.
The site opens at 9.30 am during peak times and we arrived a little after 10 am. There is a large, free car park as well as a toilet block before you even reach the entrance which was a godsend after a two-hour drive in torrential rain! We were warmly welcomed by the staff as we waited for our tickets and were advised of the main attractions and running times for the circus and 4D cinema experiences. We were also provided with a map of the site but everything is well signposted and easy to navigate.
We decided to start our time exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day, in the caves themselves, the entrance of which is a short walk from the main entrance.
The caves aren’t suitable for pushchairs, prams, and the like for obvious reasons, and sensible footwear is a must on the sometimes uneven surfaces within the cave complex.
Anyone who has followed the blog for some time will know that my son is not a thrill seeker, but he’s definitely open to trying a few new things these days and we’d explained that although some of the cave openings might be quite low, it was all going to be very safe. Just as it was.
There is a one-way route through the eight caves you can currently explore at Wookey Hole. Photos really don’t do the caves and caverns justice, they really are quite stunning, and at no point did we feel rushed to move from one to the next. There was plenty of space to take in the sights and just enjoy the surroundings.
When we were standing in the Witch’s Parlour we were treated to a school choir singing during their own visit, and the sound was just stunning, wonderful acoustics.
At no point during our walk through the Wookey Hole Caves did any of us feel claustrophobic. Yes, there were a few areas where we all needed to duck under the rocks, but nothing that felt ‘too much’ in any way. Everywhere is lit to show off the rock formations whilst still leaving it feeling very atmospheric.
Whilst exploring the caves we also got to see the Cave Aged Cheese which is made locally and then stored underground to mature, and is available to purchase from the shop on site.
In 2015 the Taylor Tunnel was excavated giving access to Chamber 20 and the rock formations within, which are different to those seen on the other chambers.
It always amazes me that vegetation always finds a way to survive in the strangest of environments.
If you are somewhat braver than us and your children are aged 14 and over, you could sign up for the Wild Wookey experience, where you really will climb, crawl and abseil through the cave complex. We got to witness a little bit of the course, and the participants looked to be having a great time.
We took about 40 minutes to explore the cave complex which we all thoroughly enjoyed. This is the only part of the Wookey Hole site that you can only visit once during the day, but there’s much more on offer too.
Exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day kept us well entertained. As you leave the caves themselves you enter the Enchanted Valley area. On a dry day, it would be the perfect place to sit for a picnic. It was absolutely tipping it down when we were there, but we weren’t going to let that stop us, at least from seeing what was there.
There is a canal running through the site which was excavated in the 1850s and includes a view of the Hyena Den – they actually lived in this area thousands of years ago.
From the Enchanted Valley, you enter Dinosaur Grove and a rather large Gorilla is there to greet you.
Within Dinosaur Grove there are a number of dinosaurs, at least one with moving parts and sounds which younger kids are going to love.
You can also dig for fossils and dinosaur bones for free and this area is also covered, so perfect when exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day.
There are a few museum areas located within the Mill complex, and all are worth exploring. You can learn about cave diving and it’s developments through the years, the inhabitants of the Mendip and Wookey Hole area from Cavemen to the Romans and learn all about the Paper Mill. We found it amazing to learn that paper was first made on the site in 1610! We did miss the paper-making demonstration unfortunately as I think we’d have all enjoyed that. But still, lots to learn and explore.
Inside the Mill Complex, there are also a number of areas to keep the family entertained. There’s a soft play area for children aged 3-10, a fully working vintage penny arcade, and a hall of mirrors to explore.
I may be 55 but I’m a massive Scooby Doo fan, so there was no chance that we were not going to experience the 4D cinema showing Scoobi! as we spent our time exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day. We’d have been watching that whatever the weather.
We also got to visit the Wookey Hole Circus, the site is actually owned by the Cottle family, so I knew we were going to be well entertained. Shows run at 12, 1 and 2pm and are held within the 400 seater theatre, with great viewing for all. We were treated to some wonderful acrobatics as well as a touch of magic.
There are several places to grab refreshments as well as the main restaurant, and on a drier day, there is also seating dotted around the area. We visited the restaurant for drinks first thing and then later in the day for lunch. The main meals were £10.99 for adults and £6.99 for children, with really good portion sizes. I had Macaroni cheese with salad, the OH had Cornish pasty, chips and beans and my son had sausages, chips and beans. All were tasty, hot and we thought, good value for money. There were also a range of sandwiches and the like available. Our only gripe was with the seating. There didn’t seem to be enough chairs to go around all the people that had taken shelter inside. The OH spent most of the time eating his meal, standing up. I had asked a member of staff if there were any additional chairs anywhere but was told no, sorry they were in use for a special event. We were probably just unlucky because the weather was so awful, and people with picnics would probably have been eating their lunch around the grounds on a drier day.
The only part of Wookey Hole we didn’t get to try was the Pirate-themed Adventure Golf area, due to the monsoon-like weather conditions.
All in all, we had a thoroughly enjoyable time exploring Wookey Hole on a rainy day, and no sign of a moaning teenager either. Considering just how bad the weather was, this gives a rather glowing endorsement to our day. I’m not saying that you should only visit Wookey Hole on a rainy day, far from it, but it’s always such a good idea to have options that work well whatever the weather and we would say that Wookey Hole has that well-covered.
For more information on pricing, opening times, and directions pop over to the Wookey Hole website.