Our guide to Somerset holidays
Holidays in Somerset are all about slowing down, chilling out and making the most of one of the UK’s most varied counties. There’s mile after mile of unspoilt countryside for the walkers, the kind of mysterious sites that have drawn the spiritual to the count for centuries, and a family attraction to suit every kind of day. And if it’s history you’re after, brace yourself, you’re going to see some of the most significant landmarks in the world during your stay in this picturesque corner of the West Country.
Let’s start with those family days out. One of the lovely things about the Somerset attractions is that none of them are quite like any other, and that means you’ll remember them for years to come.
Take Cheddar Gorge for example, this ever-so-dramatic natural gorge forms one of the most striking views you’ll every admire, and whether you climb to the top and take the views from above in with a (usually windswept) walk, or you drive right through the gorge itself and look up at the climbers braving the rocks on either side, you’ll leave in awe. The site sits in a designated Are of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and if you get time to venture inside the Cheddar Gorge Caves you’ll be able to discover their prehistoric secrets.
And then there’s the famous Wookey Hole Caves. This mystical series of underground caves is said to have inspired the caves that Harry and Dumbledore entered in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and when you catch sight of the twinkling water and the little wooden rowing boat in the middle of the underground lake you’ll see why. Part of the fun of a visit is spotting the sights throughout the caves that have inspired myths and legends, such as the stone figure of the witch in the Witch’s Kitchen cave, who it’s rumoured was turned to stone by a monk for casting spells on the people in the village.
Places to go in Somerset
No doubt you’ll have heard of Glastonbury, but a Somerset holiday’s the perfect chance to have a closer look at the village and the history behind the name we all hear so often. Glastonbury Abbey’s one of the oldest abbeys in the country, and not only is it home to the legendary birthplace of King Arthur (if you believe the folklore), but the 36 acres of parkland that surround it mean there’s plenty of opportunity for a picnic on a sunny day.
If you get the chance to visit the medieval city of Wells during your stay in Somerset, then we say do. So quaint it has American visitors melting at the sight of it, Wells sits right on the edge of the Mendip Hills (more about those later),and it’s an architect’s dream. Once described as “the most poetic of England’s cathedrals”, Wells Cathedral remains one of the area’s most popular attractions, and it’s fascinating, beautiful and a peaceful place to spend time.
Things to do in Somerset
One of the most popular things to do in Somerset has got to be walking. With a landscape that could have been made for walkers, Somerset’s the perfect place for a yomp. To start with, there’s the likes of the Quantock Hills, an area so mind-bogglingly beautiful that Samuel Taylor Coleridge used to walk it for inspiration. If you’re keen to walk in the footsteps of the literary great himself, you can walk The Coleridge Way. Stretching the 51 spectacular miles from Lynmouth to Nether Stowey, this trail takes visitors through the heart of the landscape Coleridge loved, and it’s a great way to take in the famous Somerset scenery on foot.
And then there’s Exmoor National Park, perfect for those of you who like a bit of everything, it’s home to moors, woodland, river walks and everything in between. Luckily, those friendly Somerset folk have planned things out for every kind of walker, so whether you’re after something short and easy or you’re in for the long haul, you’ll find a walk to suit. The South West Coast Path passes through the national park too, and it starts in Minehead if you want to pick it up and see how far you can get.
We love this one, the West Somerset Railway’s the longest heritage railway in the country, and it’s great fun. With a whole choice of stations, including Minehead and Dunster, the railway makes it easy to hop aboard and enjoy the view of the Somerset countryside in style. There’s an event for every occasion too, such as Mother’s Day specials, festive journeys for Christmas and the annual Spring Steam Gala.
Restaurants in Somerset
Now, we know the county has a fantastic reputation for its cider and cheese (and with good reason of course) but holidays in Somerset have all kinds of foodie treats to tempt the hungry. For fine dining, the well-do town of Taunton flies the flag, and you’ll find some of the region’s most popular restaurants there. Take your pick from Ciao Amore, Silvers Pantry or The Willow Tree, and as each one has rave reviews no matter which one you opt for you’re in for a culinary experience to remember.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten those of you who like things traditional during your UK break, and if you find yourself in good old Western Super Mare during your stay then there’s one place you’ve got to try – Papa’s Fish and Chips. We have it on very good authority that these guys serve up the crispiest fish and chips for miles…and who can argue with such a claim?