On my recent trip to England I travelled outwards by ferry to Holyhead and returned via a different port, Fishguard. I did this so I could see more of the English countryside and specifically to spend some time in Somerset, a county I hardly know at all.
My first stop was the Kilver Court outlet in Shepton Mallet itself. As it carries two of my favorite brands (Agnes B and Margaret Howell) and as it was just a few minutes away from where I was staying it was a racing certainty that I would go there.
The outlet is in a set of old industrial buildings and it’s owned and run by, Roger Saul, the founder of Mulberry. Unlike other outlets I have been to most of the shops at Kilver Court are not in separate units but share large spacious rooms. And Kilver Court has more limited stock than some of the big outlets I have visited. However I still felt it was worth seeing and I bought a much reduced blouse and a jumper in the Margaret Howell section.
As far as I know Roger Saul no longer has any connection with Mulberry but on the Kilver Court site, a little away from the main emporium, and housed in an old stone building, that was once a school, is a large Mulberry outlet shop. I browsed but didn’t buy: I suspect the shop is a mecca for lovers of the brand.
Having fortified myself with tea and coffee cake at the Kilver Court café I then whizzed over to one of the UK’s smallest cities: Wells. I had heard that Wells Cathedral, the building of which started in the 12th century, was worth seeing. That is a dramatic understatement as it is one seriously magnificent building: I could easily have spent a half day there. However the clock was ticking and time was ebbing away like a swift flowing river so I didn’t linger. In retrospect I wish I had taken the hour-long guided tour as I suspect contextual knowledge would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the architecturally splendid cathedral.
As I was in cider country I deemed it impolite not to sample the local drink. So my next stop was Hecks Traditional Farmhouse Cider shop. Six generations of the Hecks family have made cider so it’s safe to assume they know what they are doing. Sadly the orchards aren’t next to their premises but there was lots of interesting cider paraphernalia to look at. I sampled a half glass of the award wining cider which is fermented in wooden barrels: it was good. And I bought some of their famous apple juices to take home. They too were good.
My final stop was Glastonbury. I had come to see Glastonbury Tor, a conical hill which rises from the surrounding flatlands and on top of which stands, the now roofless, legendary 15th century St Michael’s Tower. The much-visited site is managed by the National Trust. The view from the top of Glastonbury Tor is apparently spectacular: I chickened out half way up, not because the climb was difficult, but because my fear of heights was starting to kick in. Still and all the view from my half-way vantage point was pretty good.
Then it was back to base.