Wessex Attractions: Ebbor Gorge

Ebbor Gorge is a 157-acre carboniferous limestone gorge in Somerset owned by the National Trust, managed by English Nature and close to Wookey Hole. The gorge is part of the Clifton Down limestone formation, a unit of the Pembroke limestone group. There is evidence of human habitation dating back to paleolithic times, along with animal remains of lemmings, steppe pika, reindeer and red deer. The latter exist in small numbers in the gorge to this day.

Ebbor gorge was declared a site of special scientific interest in 1952 and a national nature reserve in 1968. As well as the aforementioned red deer, it is home to horseshoe bats (greater and lesser), and several threatened species of butterfly. The humid environment makes it an ideal habitat for fungi and ferns, while bluebells and wood anemones are also abundant.

The postcode, for satnav purposes is BA5 1AY, and there is a free car park, open from dawn till dusk. First Bus 126 from Weston-super-Mare to Wells passes through Easton, about a mile and a half from Ebbor Gorge.

Wessex Attractions: Coleton Fishacre

Coleton Fishacre is a 1920s country house in Devon, owned by the National Trust. The house was originally the retreat of the D'Oyly Carte family, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. It has been preserved much as it was nearly a century ago, and serves as a living museum of the Roaring Twenties.

Originally built in 1926, Coleton Fishacre preserves many curious artifacts from the era, such as a tidal clock to show tide times for nearby Pudcombe Cove, and a marmalade slicer for finely peeling oranges.

The house and gardens are open from 10.30am until 5pm daily, and entry is free to National Trust members. Non-members should check the website for prices. The postcode is TQ6 0EQ. Sadly, access by public transport is limited.

Wessex Attractions: Bembridge Windmill

Bembridge Windmill is the last surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. Bequeathed to the National Trust in 1961, it is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

The windmill was built around 1700, and has featured in a watercolour by JMW Turner. The first record we have of a named miller is 1811, when the Hampshire Chronicle recorded a Mr Cook, miller of Bembridge, as having frozen to death there.

Today, the mill is preserved much as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. Those who are able to manage steep steps can climb to the top and see the view, spotting the six hidden millers on the way, On the ground floor, visitors can try their hand at grinding flour in the traditional way, whilst several nature trails run outside the mill.

Visitors are advised not to use the postcode (PO35 5SQ) for satnav purposes, but to follow the brown signs. Southern Vectis bus service 8 from Ryde to Newport passes nearby.

Wessex Attractions: North Street, Brighstone

When visiting the Isle of Wight, be sure to take a look at the pretty village of Brighstone. North Street is now owned by the National Trust, and its picturesque cottages have been preserved more or less as they were in the 18th century. There is a library and youth hostel on the street, and a traditional village shop just around the corner on Main Road.

Brighstone is situated within the Isle of Wight AONB, along the coastal route between Ventnor and Freshwater. The postcode for North Street is PO30 4AX, and Southern Vectis bus route 12 (Newport to Alum Bay) stops near the Three Bishops pub on Main Road.

Wessex Attractions: Avon Valley Railway

The Avon Valley Railway is a preserved 3-mile stretch of the former Midland Railway route between Gloucester and Bath Green Park. Originally running between Bitton and Oldland Common, the line was extended southward by 400 metres in 2004 to a new station, called Avon Riverside.

The railway is currently operating a weekend-only service, with occasional Wednesday running. An all-day ticket costs £8.50 for adults (£7.50 concessions) and £5.50 for children aged 5-14. Under-5s travel free. Season tickets are available.

The railway's headquarters are at Bitton Station, which can be reached by taking the number 42 bus to the terminus at nearby Cherry Gardens. The postcode, for satnav purposes, is BS30 6HD.