Animal Farm Adventure Park (13.2 miles)
Berrow, Burnham on Sea, TA8 2RW Tel: 01278 751628. www.animal- farm.co.uk
This is a rare breeds farm with an all- weather play barn, shop and café. Established in 1984, the park is set in 23 acres on the Somerset levels behind Brean Sands, between the Mendips and Brent Knoll.
Bath (31.7 miles)
Too much to describe here, but always a highly enjoyable day out, combining both sightseeing and shopping. We recommend the park- and-ride at the city outskirts – www.visitbath.co.uk/travel-and- maps/bath-park-and-ride .
A must for first-time visitors are the Roman baths: www.romanbaths.co.uk
Bishops Palace, Wells (17.2 miles) Wells BA5 2DP www.bishopspalace.org.uk
More than simply an historic house and garden, this splendid medieval palace has been the home of the bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years. There are 14 acres of gardens including the springs from which the city takes its name. Visitors can see the Bishop’s private Chapel, ruined Great Hall and the Gatehouse with portcullis and drawbridge beside which the mute swans ring a bell for food. If you take a picnic, you can
easily spend a day or half-day here.
Brean Leisure Park (14.7 miles)
Coast Road, Brean Sands, Somerset, TA8 2QY; Tel: 01278 751517 www.brean.com
The fun fair at Brean Leisure Park has over `40 rides and attractions including roundabouts, waltzers, dodgems and roller coasters. The shock wave super looper is the largest roller coaster in the South- west. There is also Canoe River, Laser Quest, Pony Adventure and Terror Castle. Also available is Brean Softplay and Splash Waterpark.
Butlins (30.9 miles)
Warren Rd, Minehead TA24 5SH; Tel: 0330 100 6648 www.butlins.com/where-to-stay-dine- and-play/our- resorts/Minehead/index.aspx
Much updated with Splash Waterworld, Traditional Fairground, Live Shows, Art & Craft and Character Events plus Bumper Boats.
Bristol (39.8 miles)
Another worthwhile day out combining shopping and attractions.
Cheddar Caves and Gorge (16.5 miles)
Cheddar BS27 3QF; Tel: 01934 742343 www.cheddargorge.co.uk
A major tourist attraction for over 200 years, with plenty to do above and below ground. An area of outstanding natural beauty, where you’ll find many rare species. The constant underground temperature is ideal for maturing Cheese and you can still see this practice in operation. It is also possible to see cheese being made at the Gorge Cheddar Cheese complex and sample many of the excellent varieties.
The Cathedral-like Caves and Britain’s biggest Gorge are the result of million year-old Ice Age river beds. See the world famous Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton.
There are walks to enjoy, caves to explore, open top bus rides through the gorge, cream teas and lots more. You could try climbing Jacob’s Ladder – all 274 steps take you to a stunning 360° view of the surrounding area. To book a rock climbing session or to check availability please ring Rocksport on 01934 742343 who will organize an adventure for you with all equipment supplied.
Under section – Local Services and Facilities.
Coleridge Cottage (13.4 miles)
35 Lime Street, Nether Stowey, Bridgwater TA5 1NQ; Tel: 01278 732662
In December 1796 the young Samuel Taylor Coleridge moved into this little cottage in Nether Stowey with his wife and infant son. In those days the cottage was much smaller, with a thatched rather than tiled roof. The family lived at the cottage for three years and here Coleridge wrote some of his finest poems including: Fears in Solitude, This Lime Tree Bower My Prison, The Nightingale, Frost at Midnight, the first part of Christabel and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which contains references to neighbouring places. It was also where Coleridge began to set down the opium-inspired Kubla Khan which came to him in his sleep.
In 1797 William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came to live at Alfoxden and they often came over to Nether Stowey to visit Coleridge and his family. Coleridge and Wordsworth would often go on nocturnal walks together, taking notebooks and camp stools. This rather eccentric behaviour, together with the strangers’ northern accents and Dorothy Wordworth’s darkcomplexion, led to the rumour that they were French spies. The Home Office duly sent an investigator to Nether Stowey but he was able to conclude that the poets were simply ‘harmless cranks’.
In the nineteenth century the cottage was greatly altered and now only four rooms remain that existed in Coleridge’s day.
Today mementos of the poet are displayed here including his massive inkstand, locks of his hair and correspondence in his distinctive handwriting.
Clarks Village (9.9 miles)
Street, Nr Glastonbury BA16 0BB. www.clarksvillage.co.uk
Local designer outlet –plenty of retail therapy here!
Under section – Local Services and Facilities.
Dunster Castle (29.2 miles)
Dunster, nr Minehead, Somerset TA24 6SL; Tel: 01643 821314
An ancient National Trust castle with fine interiors and subtropical gardens to be found in a dramatic hilltop location with sweeping views over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel; set in the picturesque village of Dunster.
The village itself is well worth a visit where you will find many tea shops, restaurants and shops in which to browse.
Ebbor Gorge (16.2 miles)
Deerleap, Wookey Hole, Wells BA5 1AY
www.gps- routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/Routes LinksWalks/ebbor-gorge-walking- route
Ebbor Gorge is now a nature reserve protected by English Nature. It includes three trails which wander through the woodlands, one of them going up the limestone gorge itself. There are a few mounds at the top of the gorge, and some of the caves in the area were occupied by Neolithic people; it is easy to imagine ancient people here. The view over mid- Somerset from the craggy rock at the top of the gorge path is inspiring.
Located off the Wells to Priddy road, just past Wookey Hole. A car park is available. There are various grades of walk and an all access route for the disabled.
This part of the country is blessed with many beautiful gardens to visit. www.somerset-life.co.uk/out- about/places/25-beautiful-somerset- gardens-you-need-to-visit-1-4856079
Glastonbury (12.6 miles)
Glastonbury is reputed to have had the oldest Christian Church in England and has a long history as a place of pilgrimage. The ‘White & Red Springs’ are believed to have healing powers and have always attracted visitors. In more recent years there has been a revival of interest in Glastonbury as a centre of alternative beliefs. The town has lots of interesting shops selling books, charms, furniture, clothes and crystals.
Glastonbury Abbey (12.1 miles)
The Abbey Gatehouse, Magdalene St., Glastonbury BA6 9EL
Tel: 01458 832267
The Abbey is set in 37 acres of beautifully peaceful parkland in the Centre of the ancient market town of Glastonbury. It is traditionally the first Christian sanctuary in Great Britain, visited, so legend has it, by Joseph of Arimathea and Saints David and Patrick.
Many believe that the Holy Thorn tree that can be seen in the grounds originated from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff and others are convinced that King Arthur was buried in the Abbey beside his lovely wife Queen Guinevere. Whatever one believes the facts are that the ruins are unique and the grounds provide a spot of peace and tranquillity in an otherwise hectic world; and if the weather is poor there is the new Visitor’s Centre
with award winning Museum which includes a model of the Abbey as it might have looked in 1539, together with a display of the Town, a children’s display and the magnificent 16th century Othery Cope.
Glastonbury Tor (12.1 miles)
Open all year and no admission charge. Park and ride from the town centre of Glastonbury; Tel: 01985 843600
The Tor is a prominent hill overlooking the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels. This is one of Somerset’s most renowned landmarks and the site of many legends and myths. It is reputed to be King Arthur’s
birthplace. There is a fantastic 360° view from the summit of the Tor and renovated paths provide easier access for the less ambulant.
Hestercombe Gardens (17.2 miles)
Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset TA2 8LG; Tel: 01823 413923
Hestercombe is a unique collection of three gardens spanning three centuries of garden history and design. All have undergone acclaimed restoration works and today provide important examples of gardens in contrasting styles that continue to grow and develop. The Formal Gardens were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens with informal planting by Gertrude Jekyll.
Hestercombe offers a great destination for an exciting short stop
or a wonderful leisurely day out. Don’t forget to visit their Bat Roost with its hi-tech viewing room! Just 5 miles from Junction 25 of the M5 and 2.5 miles from Taunton Railways – follow the brown daisy signs to Cheddon Road and Cheddon Fitzpaine. This venue is dog friendly.
Longleat (40.2 miles)
Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 7NW. Tel: 01985 844400
A bit further to drive but a wonderful day out; set within 900 acres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland.
Longleat House is widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public.
Longleat now encompasses a wide range of attractions to suit visitors of all ages: Longleat Hedge Maze; Safari Boats for a sea lion escorted cruise; Longleat Railway; Adventure Castle.
Maunsel Canal Centre (12.7 miles)
Maunsel Lock, Banklands, Bridgwater TA7 0DH
Visit the lock, stroll along the Canal follow the Somerset Space Walk – a true scale model of our Solar System with the ‘planets’ strategically placed along the towpath. The relative sizes of the planets and the distances between them help us to identify with the vast emptiness of space.
Maunsel Lock Tea Shop is a great place for a cream tea, cold drinks, ice cream, sandwiches, light lunches and especially homemade cake.
Montacute House (24.3 miles)
Montacute, Nr Yeovil, Somerset TA15 6XP; Tel: 01935 823289
Owned by the National Trust, Montacute House is one of the best preserved Elizabethan mansions in Britain. It was built at the end of the 16th century for Sir Edward Phelips; he was a lawyer who became Speaker of the House of Commons and Master of the Rolls and in the trial of Guy Fawkes opened for the prosecution. The symmetrical, H- shaped house was constructed of Ham Hill stone. The interior is as impressive as the exterior and has many Renaissance features including decorated ceilings, ornate fireplaces, wood panelling and heraldic glass.
Rich’s Farmhouse Cider (5.2 miles)
Mill House, Highbridge TA9 4RD; Tel: 01278 794537 www.richscider.co.uk
Cider has been produced at Rich’s Cider Farm for over 50 years. The production is still traditional. In the autumn the air is filled with the wonderfully heady aroma of crushed apples as the oak vats are filled with Somerset’s ‘amber nectar’.
Rich’s has always been a family business. Jan took over the cider farm when sadly Gordon passed away in May 1998. With the help of her husband Brian, cousin Martin Rich, Russell Salway and Jan’s sisters and their families the farm has be brought up-to-date.
Rich’s Cider offers farmhouse cider, cider products, hampers, visits and much more. The Cider Press Restaurant is also available for meals throughout the day.
Secret World Wildlife Rescue (5.4 miles)
New Road, East Huntspill, Highbridge TA9 3PZ Tel: 01278 783250
Specialises in the rescue, rehabilitation and eventual release of orphaned and injured wild creatures. Each year approximately 3,000 wild animals are cared for from the tiniest harvest mice and bats to badgers, swans, foxes, deer and otters. It is run entirely on donations and runs the only 24 hours wildlife rescue service in the South-west. Open on selected days only please see website.
Sedgemoor, Battle of
See Westonzoyland below.
Selworthy and Bossington www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holnicote- estate
The charming village of Selworthy lies in the heart of the Holnicote estate in a magnificent setting on the northern fringes of Exmoor on the A39 between Minehead and Porlock. The estate of 12,420 acres is the National Trust’s main property on Exmoor.
At first glance the cream-washed stone, thatched cottages seem typical of many ancient settlements in this area. However, Selworthy was rebuilt in 1828 by Sir Thomas Acland of Killerton for the aged and infirm of the Holnicote estate. He used traditional designs and materials to create a deliberately old-fashioned village.
Located on the wooded slopes of Selworthy Combe, the village is laid out loosely round a long green and climbs the hill to the 15th century church of All Saints.
Selworthy’s Periwinkle Cottage Tea Rooms provide wonderful cream teas. Alternatively Kitnor’s Tea Rooms at Bossington is excellent. Bossington which has attractive thatched cottages, is just half a mile from the beach and is an excellent centre for walking.
Special events Cheddar Festive Night
Every year, a few weeks before Christmas, the shops and cafes of Cheddar open late one evening. It’s an ideal opportunity to buy unusual gifts whilst enjoying the festive atmosphere. The event is normally held on the first Friday in December from 6pm. No tickets are needed, just turn up – parking locations will be displayed on this site nearer the date.
A typical schedule involves a firework launch, choirs and bands dotted around the village, candlelit tours of the caves, with the Lower Gorge and much of the village decked out with Christmas trees and lights. There are normally pig roasts at two or three of Cheddar’s pubs, a market and a prize draw. Santa usually puts in an appearance too! Why not come in fancy dress, bring candles and torches!
Candlelight takes place every year on the first Friday and Saturday of December when this remarkably preserved medieval village turns its back on the present and lights its streets with lanterns and where possible candles in the houses.
Dunster by Candlelight (29.3 miles)
Minehead TA24 5SF Tel: 01643 706355.
The first Friday and Saturday in Decembers The streets are lit by candlelight; Lantern Lighting Procession; stilt walkers, musicians, entertainers and magicians.
During both evenings there are a variety of street entertainers who include Carol Singers, Morris Dancers, Hand Bell Ringers, Entertainment in all three Streets that are closed to traffic, Activity and Shows in the Tithe Barn and Choirs in the Parish Church and entertainment in The Castle.
Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival and Squibbing (5.1 miles)
Tel: 01278 421795 for information. www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk
Held on the first Saturday in November Bridgwate’s annual Guy Fawkes Carnival is renowned country-wide for its annual Guy Fawkes Carnival which attracts 150,000 visitors. With over 100 carnival floats some up to 100 feet long itfollows a 2.5 mile route for 2 to 3 hours. This is followed by Squibbing which is something very unique to Bridgwater. Squibbing is by definition the simultaneous firing of lots of large fireworks (“squibs”). Many people come to Bridgwater just to see the squibbing as it is an event that can be seen nowhere else on the planet.
In the region of 150 “Squibbers” are involved, typically members of the Carnival clubs. The Squibbers line the Bridgwater High Street (in a line of two wide) and all light their squibs at the same time. The effect is bright light being fired into the air along the road in one great long trail of fire.
Bridgwater Quayside Festival (5.1 miles) mid/end July www.bridgwaterquaysidefestival.uk
The Quayside Festival is Bridgwater’s free outdoor summer festival in and around Bridgwater. The festival celebrates Bridgwater’s roots as an historic riverside port.
It is a celebration of live music, indoor and outdoor theatre, dance circus and acrobatics, film, carnival, aerial trapeze, puppetry with performances from local and national artists and free workshops to suit all the family. Enjoy food and drink from local producers and local art and craft stalls.
Bridgwater Fair (5.1 miles)
Bridgwater Fair originated in 1249 as a horse and cattle fair and is now held annually for four days beginning on the last Wednesday of September.
The fair takes place on St Matthew’s Field, known locally as the Fair Field and is ranked as the second largest in England after the Nottingham Goose Fair. Leading up to the Fair is a large street market selling an assortment of goods.
Somerfest (17.8 miles) Mid July
Taunton. www.somerfest.net Somerfest is all about celebrating
Somerset and our rich cultural diversity of talent from local musicians, Somerset crafters, street theatre, aerial circus, family activities, attractions and an exciting array of Outdoor Arts
Wells (17.8 miles)
Wells is the smallest city in England, with its famous cathedral and school at the centre of the town. The area around the cathedral is one of the largest medieval ecclesiastical precincts. The cathedral is a must with its famous ‘scissor’ arches and medieval clock with figures that joust on the hour – purported to be the oldest working clock in the world with its original face. Next door is the Bishops Palace (see separate entry above).
There are lots of old buildings to look at as you wander around, including the tithe barn and 15th century parish church. Somerset cheese is made and sold locally.
A lively market is held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings where all sorts of local delicacies may be purchased. The air is filled with the smell of fresh bread and sizzling sausages cooked by the award- winning butcher who fries them in the biggest pan you have ever seen.
There are lots of organic vegetables and homemade cakes.
West Somerset Steam Railway (31.1 miles)
Minehead Station, Warren Rd,
Somerset, Minehead TA24 5BG Tel:
01643 704996 www.west-somerset- railway.co.uk
Bishops Lydeard to Minehead – this genuine country branch line of the old
Great Western Railway is full of fascination whether you are looking for a nostalgic ride back in time through lovely countryside or to study the railway and industrial heritage that the line preserves.
The historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons, and the buildings of the ten unique stations linked by a twenty-mile scenic journey will repay hours of exploration.
On route you can see: the gently rolling Quantock hills; distant Exmoor; unspoilt villages and farms; the cliffs and coast of the Bristol Channel with views of distant South-Wales; church towers; Dunster Castle; and Minehead’s seaside charm.
Trains run throughout the year. Space is limited so booking ahead is advised.
Westonzoyland (7.3 miles)
Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum www.wzlet.org
This village on the Somerset Levels, a few miles from Bridgwater, is close to the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor, which was fought on 6th July 1685 between the troops of the Rebel James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, and James II of England. It was an attempt to seize the English throne, the ‘Monmouth Rebellion’ – James II had succeeded to the throne on the death of his brother Charles II; James Scott was Charles’ illegitimate son.
After landing from the Netherlands at Lyme Regis in Dorset, the Duke eventually led his untrained and ill- equipped troops on a night-time attack on the King’s position on the site of Bussex Farm outside the village of Westonzoyland. The element of surprise was lost when a
musket was accidentally discharged, and the Battle of Sedgemoor resulted in defeat for the Duke by the royal army under Lord Churchill and Lord Feversham. Monmouth escaped the battlefield, but was captured near Ringwood, Hampshire. He was taken to the Tower of London in London where he was, after several blows of the axe, finally beheaded.
It is said that other rebels were hanged from a huge tree that used to stand just outside Cossington Park. The tree gave its name to Great Tree Farm, the entrance to which lies opposite. A concrete plinth marks the spot at the junction of Bell Lane and Middle Road.
Westonzoyland is also home to Somerset’s earliest steam-powered pumping station. Built in 1830, this how houses a small museum displaying stationary steam engines and exhibits of land drainage history. Pride of place goes to the station’s pumping engine, the Easton and Amos. Small snack bar.
Willows and Wetlands Visitor Centre (12.9 miles)
Meare Green Court, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton TA3 6HY. Tel: 01823 490249
A family run business established in 1819, based on the unique Somerset levels, growing and supplying willow and producing high quality handcrafted willow products such as baskets, furniture, garden accessories, artists’ charcoal etc.
The visitor centre has exhibitions, displays, a museum with unusual artefacts and walks onto the levels to experience the landscape and environment. Guided tours are also available to see first-hand, from withy bed to basket, this most traditional and unique Somerset industry and craft.
Wookey Hole Caves (17.4 miles)
The Mill, High St, Wookey Hole, Wells BA5 1BB
Tel: 01749 672243
The UK’s largest show caves system and home to the infamous Witch of Wookey. Wander through the prehistoric Valley Of The Dinosaurs and enter the 19th Century Paper Mill, which houses a variety of fascinating attractions including the Victorian Penny Arcades, Magical Mirror Maze, museums and soft play areas. Round the day off with a game of Pirate Crazy Golf – all attractions included in your ticket!
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