Guest Post: The best holidays in Somerset

July 25, 2014 Off By Laura TMOT
Somerset is the jewel of the South West. Located in the heart of the West Country, it is a landscape dominated by dramatic coastline, seaside resorts, picturesque English countryside and breath-taking historic monuments. It really is the perfect place for a family break, but with so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start, so here are my top picks of places to visit in Somerset.  

Somerset Levels

Somerset Levels is filled to the brim with excellent walking and cycling paths to keep the kids entertained, and delightful quaint farm shops for the adults. Travel a mile south of Muchelney Abbey and you’ll discover Thorney Lakes, a seven-acre campsite with two miles of nature trails weaving around a stunning fishing lake.  Follow the 13-mile Orchard and Cider Cycle Route south through Kingsbury Episcopi to Burrow Hill Cider farm, where the adults can have a taste of cider brandy before the whole family scrambles up iconic Burrow Hill for a picnic. Sit back and enjoy the stunning view across the Levels, before looping round to Brown and Forest Smokery in Hambridge where the adventurous can try some hot smoked eel. Another day, follow the River Parrett Trail, or hire a kayak to investigate the waterways.

Wells

Wells, in the Mendip Hills, offers a city break with a difference. The smallest city in England, it offers a Saturday market, which can only be fully appreciated with a picnic in front of the cathedral when you’re done. Don’t forget to watch the famous swans ringing the bell at Bishops Palace to call for food. Once you’ve done all of that, it’s time to see what adventures can be had in Mendips.  Climb to the summit of Ebbor Gorge to enjoy panoramic views of Glastonbury Tor, before retiring to a luxury log cabin at Tor Farm and relaxing in a hot tub (www.luxuryselfcatering.uk.com). Another day, take a walk up to Cheddar Gorge to see peregrine falcon chicks nesting on the cliffs, before spending the evening taking a twilight ramble across Ubley Warren at nearby Charterhouse. As the suns sets, look out for the tussocky remains of the old lead mine, which are usually covered by a carpet of wild rabbits. You could also try visiting Wookey Farm campsite, a rural goat farm where campfires and dips in the River Axle are encouraged.     

Burrowhayes Farm in Exmoor

Huddled in the heart of Exmoor, beside the River Horner, Burrowhaye’s Farm lies within striking distance of the quaint villages, wooded combes and wild-flower covered coast of the national park. Three miles to the south lies Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Somerset. On a clear day, Bodmin Moor and the Brecon Beacons lay spread out below, with clear views of both the Bristol and English Channel coasts.  However, the breath-taking, panoramic views are not the campsite’s main attraction – that would be the resident ponies. Fluffy, sure-footed and adorable, they’re happy to carry you on a guided pony trek across the heather-strewn moors. Once your leg muscles have recovered from your ride, take a daytrip to nearby Dunster to explore its medieval streets and castle. Lesser horseshoe bats have claimed the castle for their own, and the kiddies will enjoy watching the bat cam which has been placed in the crypt. End the day by following the Tall Trees Tail to see England’s tallest evergreen, a 60m high Douglas Fir nestled in the heart of Dunster Wood. 

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