Somerset is often overlooked when people consider their west country holidays. The county is often passed through en route to Devon or Cornwall. Unfortunately, a glimpse of Somerset via the M5 or A303 does not do it justice. To appreciate Somerset you have to get off the main roads – almost immediately you will find yourself on meandering country lanes marveling at the beautiful scenery and picturesque villages.
Somerset has every type of landscape from the rugged Exmoor National Park to the Levels, the largest area of fenland outside East Anglia. There is also the stunning Mendip Hills where you will find the dramatic Cheddar Gorge and Caves. Beach lovers will not be disappointed either, there are miles of sandy beaches at Brean and the traditional seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare. There is also the pretty seaside resort of Minehead set conveniently close to Exmoor National Park and home to the West Somerset Steam Railway.
Somerset has many historical houses and gardens. There is the medieval Dunster Castle near Minehead and Montacute House, near Yeovil, which was the setting for Sense and Sensibility in 1995, both properties are owned by the National Trust. Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton, and East Lambrook Manor Gardens, near South Petherton, will delight the keen horticulturalists.
There are also plenty of attractions to appeal to children including Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park near Chard, Wookey Hole Caves near Wells, Brean Leisure Park, or a day at Butlins in Minehead. For older children and adults alike The Fleet Arm Museum and the Haynes Moter Museum make for a great day out.
If you fancy a romantic weekend break then Bath is the perfect destination. Renowned for its stunning Georgian architecture, it is full of interesting museums, such as the Roman Baths, the Jane Austin Centre, and the Museum of Costumes. There are also many restaurants, pubs, clubs, cinemas, and theatres to choose from, as well as great shopping.
Anyone looking for activity-based west country holidays will be spoilt for choice in Somerset. There are several specialist activity centers where you can experience everything from rock climbing and canoeing to archery and abseiling. For the adventurous, a safari trip on Exmoor is a great way to experience this wonderful national park.
There is also great fishing to be had at numerous lakes in the county. Golfers will not be disappointed with the number of golf courses available. Somerset also attracts many keen walkers, cyclists, and horseriders. Some self-catering establishments and B&B;’s even offer to stable so you can bring your horse on holiday too!
Somerset’s stunning scenery inspires many writers and artists. Samuel Coleridge was inspired to write his poem The Ancient Mariner here in Somerset, a statue of the famous mariner can be found in the fishing village of Watchet. There are plenty of art galleries and craft shops to visit.
Somerset is of course, renowned for its cider and it is also where cheddar cheese originates from. You can sample many varieties and learn about how it is produced at the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company in Cheddar. A stay in Somerset would not be complete without a visit to a local cider producer. As well as cider you can sample cider brandy and locally produced apple juice.
When next considering your west country holidays Somerset really should be top of your list. With so much to offer you find yourself drawn back again and again.