Strange attractions to visit

The world is full of strange things and the UK is no exception to this. A day trip out or a weekend away from Norwich provides the perfect opportunity to experience these bizarre attractions.

The Devil’s Punchbowl: just the name of it is bizarre and intriguing. This mysterious pond, not far from Thetford, randomly fills and empties, even if it doesn’t rain! Suspicious and confused people associated this weird place with the devil (hence the name). Sadly, a little less excitingly, this site is only a natural pond and sinkhole made from an underground cavern formed by collapsing subsurface chalk. Still, such a bizarre site so close to UEA must be worth a visit.

The superstition continues. A nice weekend away to North Yorkshire would not be complete without visiting Mother Shipton’s Cave in Knaresborough. This very odd site can be found in the woods along the river and has become quite the tourist attraction; in fact it’s been popular since 1680! Locals believed that a witch in the local area (Mother Shipton) was associated with tragic events, but also turned things to stone. Historically people brought objects to the nearby ‘petrifying well’ and hung them up, where the witch turned them to stone. Rather disappointingly, these ‘petrified objects’ were turned to stone because of the minerals in the water, but it is still a hauntingly bizarre place!

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is another completely bizarre and superstitious place. Museums aren’t for everyone and Cornwall is quite far from here, but not for a weekend away! And I have a funny feeling this museum is completely different to other ones. It has the world’s largest collection of items relating to witchcraft; mixing magic with belief practices (from the past to the present). It’s had some utterly mad exhibitions on pins and puppets, and on grave dust. Personally, I’m not sure if this would be a place for me, but it is certainly unique and strange.

I promise not everything in this country is full of superstition. Sometimes we have wonderful local traditions which are completely bonkers but extremely hilarious. One is the ‘world famous’ Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival. Everyone has heard of this local tradition. Just imagine how much fun running down that hill with a huge cheese would be! No one really knows why this became a thing. Maybe it was about grazing rights, or maybe it has pagan origins. The scattering of buns, biscuits and sweets at the top of the hill apparently has something to do with this. So it’s worth the visit!

Peculiar traditions continue the further north you go. I have experienced the utterly bizarre tradition of the Pace Egg on Good Friday in Heptonstall, Yorkshire. Pace Eggs were a country wide, rural English tradition that is less regular now. It’s a great place to go if you’re down for a couple of drinks (as students very often are). Essentially a performance is done by the village amateur dramatic group. Every hour they perform, and drink more and more as they go along. It’s a wonderfully bizarre thing to witness!

There are so many strange attractions in this world, and many can be found in the UK. From a four-acre woodland full of gnomes in Devon, to chasing cheese down a field. So, hop on that train and explore all the insane, strange and bizarre attractions in existence.

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Rachel Glaves

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November 2021
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