Wessex Attractions: The World of Country Life

The World of Country Life is an award-winning, family-owned fun park in Sandy Bay, near Exmouth. Opened in 1978, it features a museum of farming, and a variety of activities and exhibits designed to allow visitors of all ages to experience the reality of rural life.

Attractions include animal paddocks, play areas, a maize maze, and a tractor-hauled Deer Train Safari, which takes riders through their deer and llama enclosures.

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is EX8 5BY, and Stagecoach bus service 95 stops directly outside. Check their website for prices and opening hours.

Wessex Attractions: Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

Stoney Littleton is an example of an easily accessible neolithic long barrow near the village of Wellow in Somerset. Dating from around 3500 BC, it is a barrow of the Cotswold-Severn type, measuring around 100 feet by 40 feet.

The barrow was first excavated around 1760, though perhaps raided would be a better word. The landowner, a local farmer, plundered it in search of building stone. Sadly, most of the original contents have since been lost or stolen, but the barrow was restored to its original specifications in 1857.

The approach to the barrow takes the visitor over landscapes that remain largely unchanged since neolithic times. The postcode, for satnav purposes, is BA2 8NR. The nearest bus service is Somerbus service 757, which only runs once a week and drops you a mile away from the actual site.

Wessex Attractions: The Needles

The Needles, at the far west of the Isle of Wight, are one of Wessex's most dramatic natural attractions. Three stacks of chalk, each about 30m high, stretch out into the English Channel. A fourth stack, named Lot's Wife after the biblical character who was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, collapsed into the sea in 1764.

From 1860, the Needles were the site of two artillery batteries designed to protect the west end of the Solent from enemy ships. The Batteries were used in both world wars before being decommissioned in 1954, and are now owned by the National Trust.

At the end of the 19th century, Guglielmo Marconi carried out experiments there that eventually led to the birth of radio and telecommunications. In 1898, Marconi managed to send a radio transmission to Queen Victoria at nearby Osborne House, ushering in the modern communications age. He is commemorated with a statue at The Needles.

Boat trips operate around The Needles, with a choice of high-speed RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) or slower pleasure cruises. As always, check the website for COVID-19 restrictions.

At the far end of The Needles lies its famous lighthouse. Light from Trinity Lighthouse can be seen from up to 14 miles away. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1994, and no longer needs a keeper, so bang goes my dream job!

Other attractions for kids include a sweet factory, a Jurassic-themed Dino Jeep Safari (any resemblance to any Hollywood blockbuster movies is, of course, entirely coincidental), and several fairground rides. Unfortunately many of these are closed until 2021, so again, check the website.

The Needles is signposted from all major roads nearby. The postcode, for satnav purposes, is PO39 0JD, while the number 7 Southern Vectis bus from Newport serves nearby Alum Bay.

Wessex Attractions: Tintinhull Garden

Tintinhull Garden, near Yeovil, was created by Phyllis Reiss after the Second World War, in memory of her nephew, who gave his life in that conflict. After her death in 1961, she left the garden, and the 17th century Grade I listed house to which it belonged, to the National Trust. In 1981, the house was leased to the famed garden designer Penelope Hobhouse, who took much of her inspiration from Reiss's creation.

The colours of the Arts and Crafts-inspired garden were designed to blend with the Ham stone of the house, and the garden is arranged so that there is something to see from every room in the house.

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is BA22 8PZ, and the gardens are served by bus number 52 from Yeovil. They are currently closed due to COVID-19 at the time of writing, so be sure to check their website for details of their reopening.

Wessex Attractions: Alexander Keiller Museum

Alexander Keiller (1889-1955) was the heir to the Dundee marmalade firm of James Keiller and Son, who used the wealth he inherited in the service of his true passion, archaeology. He bought 950 acres of land at Avebury for the purposes of excavation and preservation. In 1943, he sold the land to the National Trust for a nominal fee.

Today, the museum that bears his name contains two galleries, the Barn Gallery and the Stables Gallery. The Barn Gallery is located in a preserved 17th century threshing barn, and uses interactive displays to tell the story of Avebury and its surrounding landscape. The Stables Gallery features neolithic exhibits excavated on the site, including flint tools, pottery and the skeleton of a domesticated dog dating from around 3500 BC.

Entry to the museum costs £4.90 (free to members of English Heritage) and the postcode is SN8 1RF. Please note that restrictions may be in place due to COVID-19. It is advisable to check their website in advance of your visit.