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Somerset in the West Country

Somerset may be associated with farming and Cheddar cheese, but it is also steeped in history. The county in South West England, commonly known as the West Country, is bordered to the north by Bristol and Gloucestershire, to the south east by Dorset, to the south west by Devon, and to the east by Wiltshire. The Bristol Channel also makes up parts of Somerset’s boundaries. Whereas Taunton acts as the county town, other main cities, towns and villages include Bath, Wells, Cheddar, Glastonbury, Yeovil, Sherborne and Bridgwater.

Agriculture plays a lead role in Somerset’s business world. The county produces not only apples and Cheddar cheese, but also wool and willow.

Walks

Somerset, with its rolling green hills and peaceful farming countryside, is the perfect place to enjoy a walk. Routes include the Bradford on Avon to Bath walk, the Glastonbury Tor walk (3.5 miles), the Weston Super Mare walk (1.2 miles) and the Taunton Walk (4.5 miles).

Bike trails

If you fancy getting around the Somerset countryside faster than you would walking, then grab a bike and take one of the several trails around the county, such as the Chard to Cheddar bike trail. South Somerset also has its own cycle route.

Family Attractions

Somerset is the ideal place to spend a break away with the family. With adventure parks, farms and hundreds of other attractions, you will find something to suit both young and old.

The Fun Farm, Taunton: The Fun Farm is full of farmyard animals, and the farmer and his wife are always ready to answer any questions. Visitors are welcome to feed the animals and are invited to take a ride on the new Barrel Train.
Animal Farm, Burnham on Sea: This farm is packed full of Jersey and Highland cattle, donkeys, llamas, Shetland ponies, rare breed sheep and even exotic birds, which have their own island and pond.

Cheddar Crazy Golf: This 18 hole golf course is set amongst a gorge on different levels, and features a 19th century grotto and views of the cliffs. The course makes an ideal place for a day out.

Gardens

There are many gardens to be visited in the county of Somerset, all with something a bit different to offer.

Cheddar Garden Centre: The Cheddar Garden Centre has an abundance of excellent plants on offer, water gardens to walk around and friendly on-hand staff. All this set in the beautiful Mendip Hills.

Hestercombe Gardens: These three beautiful gardens near Taunton are set over 40 acres of Woodland, with a Courtyard Café serving delicious food and tea, a Gift Shop selling all kinds of gifts to take home, and an impressive Plant Centre.

Jill’s Garden: This garden in Grove Park, Weston super Mare, holds a lot of importance as it is dedicated to the memory of Jill Dando, who grew up in the town. Opening in 2001, Jill’s family and friends received the help of the BBC Ground Force Team in helping to shape the garden. It is a peaceful and tranquil place which has fast become one of Weston Super Mare’s most popular attractions.

History and Museums

The county is celebrated in nearly every phase of English history, from the legendary past of King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon, and the less remote period when King Alfred is supposed to have burnt the cakes in the Isle of Athelney, down to comparatively recent times when the Duke of Monmouth was defeated at Sedgemoor, and Judge Jeffreys held the Bloody Assize at Taunton.

Battle Sites: The Battle of Sedgmore took place on 6th July 1885 between the Royalists under the Duke of Feversham, who defeated the Rebel Army who were under the Duke of Monmouth. The Battle of Langport took place on 10th July 1645 and saw the royalists fight against the parliamentarians. The two sites at Bridgwater and Langport respectively give an insight into the old battles which took place in this part of England.

Because of this vivid history, Somerset has many fascinating museums.

The Somerset Rural Life Museum: Based in Glastonbury, this museum takes visitors back in time to Somerset during the Victorian period, with a barn and courtyard displaying tools used in mud horse fishing, cider making and peat digging. A shop and tea room is also on site.

Seaquarium: This sea life centre in Weston Super Mare lets visitors walk through an underwater tunnel, with sharks and rays just inches away on the other side of the glass. And that’s not all: there are further 25 displays at the Seaquarium, all with something different.

Hayes Motor Museum: This museum in Sparkford is home to vintage cars of the 50s and 60s, including Rolls Royces and Bentleys, alongside modern cars such as the Ferrari 360 and the Jaguar XJ220. There are a total 400 glorious cars and bikes housed in the museum.

Somerset Brick and Tile Museum: The Brick and Tile Museum in Bridgwater gives visitors an insight into brick and tile making, and houses the only remaining tile kiln in Bridgwater.

Glastonbury Festival

Somerset cannot be discussed without mentioning the world-famous Glastonbury Festival. A five day music festival, everyone from Nirvana to Bruce Springsteen has played here. Music isn’t the only part of the festival: visitors can even get a massage between seeing bands play live, whilst many dance and acrobats put on displays. It may be cursed by rain and a lot of mud, but Glastonbury is certainly a magical experience.

On this page you can find information about holidays in Somerset. Please click below to find more interesting towns in Somerset and the West Country
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