One Hour From: Bristol

Cars, birds, thrills and spills: it's just another day in the West Country.
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The Independent Travel

Slimbridge wetlands centre

Slimbridge wetlands centre

Twitchers have a field day at this world-famous conservation and education centre set up by the late Sir Peter Scott in 1946 on the banks of the Severn. Covering 700 acres, it has a huge number and variety of waterfowl. Expect also to spot buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks hovering, and otters and mink can be seen along the river banks. Keep your eyes peeled for the tropical house, the pond zone and Hanson discovery area.

By car: take the M5 north followed by the A38 and follow signs; journey time approx 40 mins.

Glastonbury Abbey

These magnificent ruins are set in 36 acres of glorious Somerset Parkland. Traditionally the oldest Christian sanctuary in Britain and burial place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, Glastonbury is steeped in history and legend. Look out for the Holy Thorn tree and the award-winning museum. In summer months, Brother Thomas (don't worry, he's an actor) will tell you how he and the monks used to live in the Abbots Kitchen.

By car: take the M5 south, then the A37 and follow signs; journey time 1 hour.

Berkeley Castle

England's oldest inhabited castle has housed 24 generations of the Berkeley family. Over eight centuries the castle was transformed from the forbidding fortress where Edward II was murdered into the home of one of England's oldest and most colourful families. Visit the cell where Edward had a red-hot iron thrust into his bowels, then take a turn around the delightful Elizabethan terraced garden. Open daily (except Mondays) from May to September.

By car: take the A38 north and follow signs; journey time approx 35 mins.

Cheddar Gorge and Caves

Discover the cathedral-like caverns of Gough's Cave and the calcite sculptures in Cox's Cave. Meet Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest skeleton, before climbing the 274 steps of Jacob's Ladder to Pavey's Lookout Tower and the two-hour clifftop walk around the rim of Britain's biggest gorge. Adrenalin junkies and their mates try caving, climbing and abseiling in the famous limestone gorge, which is apparently ideal for beginners. The caves are open daily from 10am to 5pm.

By car: take the A38 south, then the A371 and follow signs; journey time approx 45 mins.

Haynes Motor Museum

If you thought The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu was the best motor museum in Britain, think again. At Haynes Motor Museum you can travel through motoring history at the nation's best and most spectacular collection of historic cars from around the world. More than 300 cars are on display, along with hundreds of motorcycles, military vehicles, commercial motors and items of memorabilia. Stunning exhibits include the 200mph Jaguar XJ220, Schumacher's F1 Ferrari and a Dodge Viper. Va Va Voom!

By car: take the A37 south, followed by the A303 and follow signs; journey time approx 1 hour.

Lacock Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum

Harry Potter fans flock to the beautiful National Trust village of Lacock to see Lacock Abbey, where scenes from the films were shot. Founded in 1232, the abbey was converted into a country house around 1540. Expect to find fine medieval cloisters, a divine sacristy, chapter house and largely intact monastic rooms. Outside there is a handsome 16th-century stable courtyard with a clockhouse, brewery and bakehouse. The grounds also house the Fox Talbot Museum of Photography.

By car: take the M32, then M4, followed by the A350 and follow signs; journey time approx 45 mins.

The Hotel du Vin & Bistro (0117-925 5577; www.hotelduvin.com) offers a two-night break from £240 for two people sharing, on a b&b basis. First Great Western (0845 700 0125; www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk) offers Apex standard class rail travel from London to Bristol from £18.50. Europcar (0870-607 5000; www.europcar.com) offers weekend car hire in Bristol from £71.

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