This is, allegedly, the only place in the world where you can visit a colony of nesting Mute Swans. (Trust me, they are not mute). A Benedictine monastery was established at Abbotsbury in the 11th century and the monks began farming swans - which often featured at medieval banquets. The monks have long gone, but the swans are still there (different ones, obviously). If you visit Abbotsbury Swannery these days, you'll find about 600 swans, all free to roam. The colony is established adjacent to a shallow lagoon, the Fleet, which lies behind Chesil Beach. It's a unique location.
Victorian memorial on the site of the abbey, said to have been founded by King Alfred in 878, on the site of his refuge from the Danes on the Isle of Athelney.
Enormous Neolithic stone henge and bank surrounding the entire village of Avebury. Dates from c2600BC. Part of a wider complex of prehistoric sites nearby. Get up close and personal with the stones - which you cannot normally do at nearby Stonehenge.
A brooding, ruined, medieval castle located atop a dramatic wooded cliff and with the remains of an unfinished Jacobean house inside its walls, which was intended to be the grand home of the Seymour family. Berry Pomeroy Castle has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Britain.
Part-ruined home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, the palace dates from 13th century and is surrounded by a moat, upon which swans glide gracefully. Croquet is played on the lawn. The highlight, though, is the gardens. These are a delight to wander in and include the well pools that give the city its name.
Brownsea Island (aka 'Branksea') is the largest island in Poole Harbour (about 1 mile x 1/2 mile) and is primarily a wildlife area of woodland, heath and wetland, home to red squirrels and a variety birds. There are trails and events, including open air theatre and an annual round the island swim. Brownsea was chosen by Baden-Powell to try out his scouting ideas and is also said to have inspired Enid Blyton. Brownsea Castle, originally 16th century, is currently (August 2016) leased to the John Lewis Partnership as a staff hotel and not open to the public. Access to the island is by ferry from Poole.
A natural hill rising out of the Somerset levels, with the ruins of a church, St Michael's, on top, giving the place an evocative feel. There was probably a castle on the site once. Burrow Mump also has possible associations with King Alfred, who hid in the marshes around nearby Athelney to escape the Danes. It is now a war memorial, dedicated to all those from Somerset who died in the First and Second World Wars.
Post Code is for the nearby King Alfred pub. Small free car park at the foot of the hill.
South Cadbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort, overrun by the Romans in the 1st century and subsequently used by them, but then reoccupied and its defences restored in the sub-Roman period and in occasional use up to at least the 10th century. It is one of several places associated with the legendary King Arthur and suggested as a possible location for the mythical Camelot. The walls and defences are now wooded, but the size of them can be appreciated, and there is a wonderful view of Glastonbury Tor, on the mystical Isle of Avalon, from the top.
Take the pathway, Castle Lane, from the village; it is invariably muddy.
The Cerne Abbas Giant is one of Britain’s best known hill figures, cut into the hillside near the pretty Dorset village of Cerne Abbas. It is formed of a cut trench about 1 foot deep and across, stands 180 feet (55 metres) high and depicts a nude male wielding a large club. Possibly its most noticeable feature is its prominent erection – so the figure is often associated with fertility. Some people think the giant represents a Celtic deity, or Hercules. In fact, the age of the Cerne Abbas Giant is uncertain – though listed by A Bit About Britain as prehistoric, it may date only from the 17th century. There is a viewing area a short distance from Cerne Abbas village and there are walks nearby.
It is hard to photograph the Giant. The image here is from Google Earth.