20 fun things to do in the West Country this weekend

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This weekend is jam-packed with things to do in the West Country; meet Clare Balding at her exclusive book signing, go ghost hunting, watch ploughing championships and horse-boarding (a new one even for me!) and celebrate the best of local food, drink and music at the many festivals around the region.


Wessex Heavy Horse Show and Country Fayre

Wessex Heavy Horse Show and Country Fayre

The annual show of the Wessex Heavy Horse Society is one of the largest Heavy Horse events in the South West, but is far more than just a horse show. There are many vintage vehicles, engines, a fun dog show, plus children’s activities, a medieval encampment, wagon rides, the always-popular Pudding Competition and craft stalls. You can visit the horse lines to see the competitors preparing for their classes, or head over to the Society stand if you’d like the chance to win a Barrow of Booze. Dogs are welcome, but please keep them on a lead.

Date: Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: From 9am
Address: Turnpike Showground, Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society, Motcombe, North Dorset SP7 9PL
Price: adult £7, child £3 (under 16s), under 5s free, family £18 (2 adults and up to 3 children between the ages of 5 and 15 inclusive (under 5s go free). Buy tickets online >
Website: www.whhs.org.uk/index.php/2016-show

Explore the wonderful world of rivers

Meet some amazing mini-creatures that live in our rivers, learn about their hidden lives and what they can learn about our environment. Dorset Wildife Trust and Honeybrook Rangers will also be on hand to guide and help you on these and other wildilfe activities.

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 10am to 3pm
Address: Honeybrook Family Farm and Riverside Park, Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4JD
Price: Usual admission fees apply
Website: www.honeybrook.org/#whatson

History @ Work Weekend at the Ancient Technology Centre

Ever wondered how our ancestors built or made things? Come along to the History @ Work Weekend at the Ancient Technology Centre to see archaeology being brought to life; watch authentic tools and methods at work and to enjoy behind the scenes tours of the fabulous structures of this unique open air museum, given by those that built them. This is a great chance to understand the complex issues and processes that turn a small piece of evidence from the ground into something tangible. Enjoy tea, coffee and delicious homemade cake in this beautiful and timeless setting.

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 10am to 4pm
Address: The Ancient Technology Centre, Damerham Road, Cranborne, Dorset BH21 5RP
Price: Adults £6 Children £3 (under 4s free)
Website: www.ancienttechnologycentre.co.uk/history-at-work.html


Fal River Walk

Fal River Walk Cornwall

The annual Fal River Walk is a great way to see this beautiful part of Cornwall from a totally different viewpoint. Starting from the Stable Yard at the National Trust’s Trelissick, there are two circular walks that take in some really stunning scenery; the 15 mile Long Walk (Feock – Restronguet Point – Mylor – Flushing – ferry to St Mawes – St Just in Roseland – Turnaware Point – short crossing to Trelissick) and the 6 mile Short Walk (an extended ferry ride along the Fal to St Mawes, walk back to Trelissick along the eastern side of the Fal). Cream tea and parking is included.

Date: Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: Car park opens 8.30am, walks start from 9.30am
Address: Stable Yard, National Trust’s Treslissick, Feock, near Truro, Cornwall, TR3 6QL
Price: Long Walk £30 (individual); £80 (families of two adults and up to three children), Short Walk £25 (individual) and £60 (families). Over half of the entry fees will be shared by the charities. Hurry – online registrations will close at 8pm on Saturday 24 September.
Website: falriverwalk.co.uk

Looe Music Festival

Music enthusiasts will love Looe Music Festival, which celebrates great music on the beach at Looe. The 2016 lineup features amazing artists such as Seth Lakeman, Bryan Ferry and Fun Lovin’ Criminals, making this a musical weekend you’ll never forget.

Date: Friday 23 to Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: starts 4pm on Friday and the stages close at around 10pm
Address: On the beach at Looe
Price: Day ticket £40, weekend ticket £89, under 18s £25, under 5s free. More ticket information >
Website: www.looemusic.co.uk

Great Cornish Food & Drink Festival

Truro’s Lemon Quay will transform into foodie heaven for three days of eating, drinking, shopping and entertainment this weekend. Sample the best of Cornwall’s food scene from the county’s incredible restaurants and artisan producers including bakers, butchers, breweries, cider makers, chocolatiers and cheese-makers. Learn from amazing top chefs as they share their secrets in the Chefs’ Theatre and Croust Bar Masterclass Theatre. Plan your day out here >

Date: Friday 23 to Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 9am to 5.30pm (Fri & Sat), 9.30am to 4.30pm (Sun)
Address: Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall TR1
Price: Free event
Website: www.greatcornishfood.co.uk/festival


Levels’ Best Craft & Farmers Markets at Montacute House

Levels Best Farmers Market Somerset

If you love top quality local produce and crafts, pop along to the National Trust’s Montacute House this Saturday. You’ll find the award winning ‘best in Somerset’ market in the gorgeous honey-coloured sandstone Old Stable Courtyard. There will be plenty of stalls to tempt you with fresh, artisan and traditionally-made food and drink, as well as gorgeous crafts.

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 10am to 2pm
Address: Montacute, Somerset TA15 6XP
Price: Free event, admission applies
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/b91e7cbb-6a88-4ac5-8dcf-782c119dcaab/pages/details

1940’s Weekend at Avon Valley Railway

Join in a fab weekend of vintage fun as we take a light hearted look at what life was like during WW2. Singer Miss Jayne Darling will provide a touch of ’40s glamour in The Victory Tent and look out for Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill who will arrive and depart the railway each day in a military convoy. There will be lots to see including steam trains, War Department shunting engine “Grumpy” used during the Normandy invasion, vintage bus rides, re-enactors and even a 1940s Beauty salon. While not compulsory, you are encouraged to Look Smart, Look Sharp and Look the Part’ and dress up in period costume or allied military dress.

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: Trains start from 10am and finish approximately 5.30pm
Address: Bitton Station, Bath Road, Bitton, Bristol BS30 6HD
Price: Adults £10, concession £9, child (5-15 years) £8, family (2 adults + 4 children) £32, under 5 years free. Fares include unlimited train travel on the day of purchase, access to the exhibits (some additional charges may apply), free parking at Fry’s Chocolate Factory and use of the vintage shuttle bus between Fry’s and Bitton Station. Tickets for event site only cost £2 pay on the day (refundable upon purchasing a train ticket)

Website: www.avonvalleyrailway.org/events/1940s-weekend/

Dunster Castle Uncovered

Dunster Castle is the National Trust country house that forms the stunning backdrop to the pretty village of Dunster. Throughout September, you can have a rare peek into parts of the Castle you won’t have seen before on special tours that run throughout the day and last 45 minutes.

Date: Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 11am to 4pm
Address: Dunster, near Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6SLDate:
Price: Free event, admission applies
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/3c999f35-74cf-482a-8c00-fdda758d9708/pages/details


Clare Balding’s Family Morning with The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop

Clare Balding

Join number one bestselling author, national treasure, and broadcaster Clare Balding for inspirational stories and family entertainment to mark the publication of her very first children’s book The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop. You can ask Clare questions and there’s a book signing too. Suitable for ages 7+. You can listen to Clare Balding reading the first chapter of The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop here >

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 11am
Address: Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RA
Price: £9 ticket only, £17 ticket + signed book. Add the book to your order at the Checkout stage when you book online.
Website: www.salisburyplayhouse.com/whats-on/main-house/clare-baldings-family-morning-with/

Wiltshire Game and Country Fair

Wiltshire Game and Country Fair Wiltshire

The Wiltshire Game and Country Fair comes to the magnificent grounds of the Bowood Estate this weekend. Watch stunts, horseboarding and scurry driving in the main arena, gun dog displays, country sports and skills as well as glass blowing demonstrations, speed carves in the chainsaw area and even racing ferrets!

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 10am to 6pm
Address: Bowood House, Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 9PQ
Price: Tickets on the day: Adults £13, Over 65s £12, Children (15 and under) £4 (Under 5s free)
Website: livingheritagecountryshows.com/show-dates/wiltshire-game-country-fair/

Country Comes to TownCountry Comes to Town Devizes Wiltshire

Market Square in the heart of Devizes will be buzzing with activity this Saturday, in a celebration of ‘Wild Wiltshire’. Come along for a day of wildlife experiences and activities, food and cooking, children’s activities and demonstrations.

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 10am to 4pm
Address: Market Square, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1HR
Price: Free event
Website: www.wiltshirewildlife.org/Event/country-comes-to-town-2016

Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds

Ploughing Championships

Ploughing Championships Gloucestershire

Fairford, Faringdon, Filkins and Burford Ploughing Championships and Country Show is a great day out for all the family. Watch the annual ploughing match, go to the fun fair and be entertained by the band playing, ferret racing, reptile rescue and the Cotswold Carthorses with a fine display of working horses. There’ll be thatchers, dry stone wallers, wood sawing and several steam engines and also spinning from a raw fleece to a finished jumper. And of course there is ploughing by horses, steam engines and tractors (vintage and new). Dogs are welcome (especially Terriers).

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 8.30am to 4pm. Ploughing and Hedgelaying competitions start at 9am with most of the competitions ending at 2.30pm but displays by steam, horses and main ring carrying on until approximately 4pm.
Address: Donkeywell Farm, Quenington, Gloucestershire, GL7 5HD
Price: £9 Adults £5 Children and Seniors (children under 12 Free), cash only
Website: www.ploughingmatch.co.uk/

GWSR Day Out with Thomas and Friends

Thomas the Tank Engine™ and his friends will once again be taking over the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway this weekend! Ride with Thomas and other steam and diesel engines, including Daisy, between Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe and Toddington. Of course the Fat Controller will once again be over seeing proceedings and trying to make sure that Thomas doesn’t get into any mischief! There’ll be story telling, face painting, a family magic show, model railway exhibition and a ride on the double-decker bus between Toddington and Winchcombe stations.

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: Gates open at 9am, the first train at 9.30am from Toddington and 9.45am from Cheltenham Racecourse. Trains will run every 45 minutes throughout the day.
Address: The Railway Station, Toddington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5DT
Price: Adults £20, senior £18, children (3-15) £12, family (1 adult and 2 children) £40, family (2 adults and 2 children) £50. Once you have bought your travel ticket, entrance to all attractions is free!
Website: www.gwsr.com/planning-your-visit/2016-events-calendar/day-out-with-thomas.aspx


South West Outdoor Festival, Heddon Valley, Exmoor National Park

The ultimate outdoor activity weekend in the gorgeous Heddon Valley in Exmoor National Park, with hiking, biking, trail running, openwater swimming, camping, star gazing and wild food foraging. There will be lots of local outdoor experts, you can come and build your own adventure weekend, or chill out in the West Country’s wonderful wilderness. Get some fresh air out on the trails, at the outdoor bar, or around the campfire. Come for the day or camp for the weekend in the hidden valley. Glamping available for those who want to do it in style. Full programme here >

Date: Friday 23 to Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 8.30am to 6pm
Address: Heddon Valley, Parracombe, Lynton, Devon EX31 4PY
Price: Day tickets are free, you need to pay for parking. There are also camping and glamping tickets available here >
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out/regionsouthwest/south-west-outdoor-festival

Ghost Hunting Night at Torquay Museum

Explore Torquay Museum in the dead of night and try to make contact with whatever walks its corridors after dark, as you join the Investigators of the Paranormal team on a spine-chilling ghost hunting night at one of the town’s most iconic buildings. Learn how the experts investigate the paranormal, get trained in ghost-hunting techniques, and hear about the team’s supernatural encounters.

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 8pm – 2am
Address: Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon TQ1 1HG
Price: £25 including tea, coffee and biscuits. Booking in advance is essential as places are very limited, so please contact Torquay Museum on 01803 293975 to reserve your place.
Website: www.torquaymuseum.org/events/details/224/ghost-hunting-night-at-torquay-museum

Spirit of the Exe: Exmouth Mussel Festival

Come and discover the incredible local seafood and exciting watersports available on the Exe estuary at the Spirit of the Exe: Exmouth Mussel Festival. Try mouth-watering mussels washed down with fantastic local wines and ales. There will be cooking demonstrations and tasters, local bands playing, hilarious walk-about acts, seashore foraging, willowcraft activities, a super sand sculpture competition and the odd little surprise popping up!

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: Noon til dusk
Address: Exmouth Beach & Gardens (opposite the Pavilion)
Website: www.exe-estuary.org/web/exe-estuary/summer_event

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Autumn Gala

If you love steam trains, head over to the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Autumn Gala, where you’ll see the Lyd, Isaac, Charles Wytock and Axe engines all in steam. There are unlimited rides in their four original carriages (pay a little more and you can try out First Class), as well as a 7¼” miniature railway, real ale tent, barbecue, model railways, craft stalls and more.

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 10.30am to 5pm
Address: Woody Bay Station, Martinhoe Cross, Parracombe, Lynton, Devon EX31 4RA
Price: Adult £12, concessions £10, child (5 -14) £3, children under 5  free, family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £28
Website: www.lynton-rail.co.uk/page/Special-events

Taste of the Teign and Teignmouth Harbour Festival

Discover the fantastic local food found along the magnificent Teign River Estuary at the Taste of the Teign and Teignmouth Harbour Festival. As well as having plenty to eat, you can learn how to shell and dress crab, or press your own apples to make juice or cider from local experts. All week, local restaurants and cafes are featuring special menus based on foods available from the Teign estuary.  Watch the Traditional Blessing of the Boats at 1pm on Saturday.

Date: Monday 19 to Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: All day, check the events diary >
Address: Teignmouth Harbour and Back Beach
Price: Free event
Website: tasteoftheteign.org.uk

Plymouth Seafood Festival

Plymouth is the first city in the world to be awarded the Fish2Fork Blue City status for its commitment to sourcing sustainable fish and Plymouth Seafood Festival will bring The Barbican and Sutton Harbour alive to celebrate the city’s fantastic seafood. Regional and celebrity chefs will tantalise you at the Cookery Theatre, you’ll discover incredible local food and crafts, and Shanty bands will be sure to get your feet stomping.

Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2016
Time: 10am to 5pm. Full programme >
Address: The Barbican & Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2LR
Website: www.visitplymouth.co.uk/whats-on/plymouth-seafood-festival-p1988083