There is lots to do in West Somerset...
Most visitors come to West Somerset to explore the high open spaces of Exmoor and the Brendon Hills – think Lorna Doone, wild Exmoor ponies, Dunkery Beacon and Tarr Steps. There are so many walks to choose from - from the gentle to the challenging - something for everyone. Amidst the high, sometimes boggy uplands, are sheltered river valleys that support old villages with great pubs that provide good food for muddy-booted walkers and welcome dogs in to lie by the fire. We recommend a restorative walking weekend to all you hard-working people!
Just as beautiful, with even more consistently gorgeous views to all points of the compass, are the Quantock Hills. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a mix of heather-clad uplands; complete with sheep, free-grazing Quantock ponies, and dramatic tree-filled valleys perfect for picnics by the stream. In May the woods are awash with a purple haze of bluebells as far as the eye can see – an unforgettable sight.
In the village of Nether Stowey is Coleridge Cottage and the start of the Coleridge Way and the SW Coast Path is easy to join at Minehead.
At Ralegh’s Cross is the Incline and Winding House of the West Somerset Mineral Railway – a spectacular piece of Victorian engineering. If you are fit enough to tackle a 1 in 4 gradient then you can walk from here down to Comberow, or perhaps choose part of the easier, flatter route from Roadwater to Watchet along the scenic old trainline.
Bring your walking boots! Or your mountain bike...
For Garden-Lovers there are several amazing private gardens locally – our favourites being romantic Cothay Manor, restored Hestercombe, organic Greencombe, Porlock and plantsman's Marwood Hill. Within easy reach are various National Trust properties with notable gardens - Knightshayes, Barrington Court, Lytes Cary Manor and Dunster Castle. If you have time to dedicate a day to visit the RHS garden at Rosemoor it is a picturesque drive across the south of Exmoor taking about an hour and a half. Well worth it at any time of year.
The Somerset Levels are about 45 minutes from us, to the east of the M5. It is a quiet and distinctive landscape and an important inland wetland area. For birders and naturalists the Avalon Marshes are interesting to visit. The sight of the starling murmurations in autumn, when thousands of these birds swirl in the skies at dusk, is mesmerising. Others will want to visit Glastonbury which has a ruin of a vast Abbey within lovely gardens and the famous Tor. Just avoid going during that week at the end of June when the Festival is in full swing! Historians will be interested in the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor – the last battle on English soil in 1685.
Taunton is home to the Somerset County Cricket Ground where there is a full summer schedule of County matches and T20 games.
For cider-drinkers there is an interesting museum at the Sheppy’s Cider Farm and lots of different ciders to sample in the local pubs.
The Bakelite Museum at WIlliton is fascinating and the Museum of Somerset in Taunton's historic castle tells the county's story from prehistoric times to the present day.
There are beaches at Minehead, Porlock and Lynmouth. Take a steam train from Bishops Lydeard along the West Somerset Railway heritage line to Minehead for the day. Stop off and visit Dunster Castle or Watchet. In the run up to Christmas take your children on the Santa Express.
Stargazing - we are lucky to be close to the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe. Exmoor National Park has plenty of help and advice as to the best spots for looking up at the night skies and an Interactive sky map.
The fittest can test themselves by entering Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor which is at nearby Wimbleball Lake. Or for runners there are loads of well-marked paths for trying out some 'Wild Running'.
Put your vehicle through its paces and drive from Porlock to Lynmouth up the infamous Porlock Hill (apparently a climb of 1,300ft in less than 2 miles, quite steep!). Or take the alternative Porlock Toll Road which takes a leisurely 4 miles with endless sea views to climb to the top. You can walk up from Porlock Weir, or try cycling up it on your bike. If none of these appeal there is a final option in the summer months when the Quantock Motor Services run an Omnibus timetable – great fun and good for the less active. The links Golf course at Minehead is a favourite on a summer evening.
We have literature for some of the local attractions and maps/guidebooks that we can lend you. Having lived here for some time and walked extensively around the area we can suggest itineraries tailored to your level of activity, many of which take in a friendly pub en-route.