A mystic county of myth and history, decorated with castles, caves and cathedrals. Somerset combines the best of countryside and coast. Lose yourself in the rolling greenery of the Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park. Or grab your bucket and spade and roll your towel out on the sandy beaches of the Bristol Channel.
Somerset is as famous for its exports as its landscape. Notable Somerset products include cheese and cider and former patrons include King Arthur, Alfred the Great and John Cleese. So come along to Somerset and see what all the fuss is about.
A premier seaside resort for the whole family, featured annually on Channel 4’s festival T4 on the beach. The Grand Pier takes pride of place in the centre of Weston’s golden beach and it’s the perfect place for holiday makers to spend some time, here you can have food, drinks and play on the attractions. Weston Pier in Somerset also boasts the Robocoaster, the smallest rollercoaster in the world, do you dare hop on?
If you’re looking for the ultimate freedom when you stay in Weston-Super-Mare, self catering accommodation is for you. Somewhere like Martyndale Suites could be perfect for you, as it’s just a two minute walk from the beach and the town centre with all the great food, drink and fun.
Glastonbury & Wells
There’s more to Glastonbury than the festival (although that’s quite good too). This charming Somerset town holds ancient wonders while being a fantastic place for a modern hideaway. Glastonbury Abbey is a tranquil spot famed for being the final resting place of the legendary King Arthur (you know, Camelot, Merlin, Knights of the Round Table …). Of course you can’t take a trip to Glastonbury without visiting Glastonbury Tor, the hill rises over the Somerset Levels, giving visitors an unparalleled view over the Mendip Hills, the Bristol Channel and Wells.
Neighbouring Glastonbury, you’ll find the picturesque city of Wells, boasting a magnificent cathedral dating back to the twelfth century. Wells’ extensive history continues underground in attractions such as the Wookey Hole Caves. Here you can take a guided tour through the caves and hear the history of their formation. This is a fantastic family day out but if you want to stay longer the Wookey Hole Hotel provides you with luxury accommodation while you explore the surrounding area.
Did someone say cheese? Cheddar in Somerset is the famous home of Cheddar cheese, one of Somerset’s (and Britain’s) finest products. Cheddar is also home to one of Britain’s largest natural phenomenons, Cheddar Gorge. This is a great place for outdoor activities like caving and rock climbing.
As well as sampling the local cheese, while you’re in Cheddar you must take the time visit the charming independent café’s and restaurants, like Derrick’s Tea Room, full of home-made, sumptuous treats.
Bridgwater and Taunton
Bridgwater is a market town just east of the Quantock Hills. Its fantastic position makes Bridgwater an ideal base to explore Somerset. Bridgwater itself is a thriving little town with many great pubs and restaurants with authentic Somerset cuisine. And the Brookland Hotel, right in the centre of town is just one fantastic place to stay.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Bridgwater in November you can experience the annual Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, “the largest and best illuminated procession in the world.” (http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=7819)
Take a trip to Taunton and make sure you bring your wallet, as Taunton is the shopping capital of Somerset. But there’s more to Taunton than just shopping, like much of Somerset it has its fair share of historic landmarks, including Taunton Castle, originally built to defend the town in the Anglo-Saxon period.
While visiting Taunton, if you travel just 4 miles to Bishops Lydeard, you can catch the West Somerset Railway, which will take you on a scenic tour, past the Quantock Hills, Exmoor National Park and Bridgwater Bay all the way to Minehead. And you’re free to get off at any station and explore.
A traditional seaside resort in Somerset with one of the shortest piers in the country. Burnham-on-Sea is a firm family favourite destination, it’s full of great holiday parks and places for camping and caravanning.
Its position on the coast means there’s lots of natural fun to keep the kids entertained, and for the adults, you couldn’t pick a more scenic spot with excellent views of the Welsh Coast. Slightly further in land there’s a busy town centre full of places to shop and eat, if you want a break from the beach. … But if you are all about the beach, there’s plenty of opportunity to have some fun. Take a trip to Berrow or Brean beach where you can ride a horse across the sand dunes. The dog can even come too, just another perk of a camping holiday.
As you can see Somerset is a varied county with plenty to do and great places to stay. But what do you think? We’d love to hear about your favourite place in Somerset? Tell us your secrets.
This is the second in our South West Series, catch up with our Bristol & Bath guide here and keep an eye out for our Dorset post coming soon.