Best things to do in Somerset

Penned on the 14th January 2022

Best things to do in Somerset

Lying within the rural landscape of the West Country, Somerset is a place to retreat into nature, to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer and to immerse yourself within the history of the land. Its varied geography includes miles of flowing countryside, flat plains of wetland, dramatic limestone gorges, leafy woodland and coastal vistas overlooking soaring cliffs and golden beaches. Steeped in history, romance, mystery and culture, there are a bountiful selection of ways to enjoy this corner of the UK. In this guide we’ve outlined the 11 best things to do in Somerset, including family days out, exploring its vast swathes of green space and how to make the most of this unique and beautiful county. 

 

1. Hike the Mendip Way to Cheddar Gorge

 

Unwind in the outdoors amidst the most rugged part of the Somerset landscape, where lush valleys and eon-old caves meet hills topped with ancient historical landmarks. The Mendip Way is a 30-mile trail and one of the best walks for exploring Somerset. Leading from Uphill to Wells through flora-adorned nature reserves, quiet woodlands and distinctive limestone ridges, it is a must-see for anyone interested in geology, wildlife and ancient history. Be sure to stop off at Cheddar Gorge, a deep crevice that winds through the earth’s crust to create stalactite caverns and steep cliffs with breathtaking views of the rest of the county and beyond. 

Where to stay: Lady’s Well Shepherd’s Hut is positioned perfectly for exploring the majestic Mendip Hills. Take a look here. 

 

2. Climb Glastonbury Tor 

 

Once separated from the land by water, Glastonbury Tor has long been a site of spiritual importance. Originally thought to be a destination of pilgrimage for Pagans and Christians, it also has links to King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon, where legend has it the monarch drew the powerful sword Excalibur from its stone. Today, the conical landmass is still shrouded in mystery and magic, whilst also providing a stunning vantage point from which to view the extensive marshland of the Somerset Levels. Atop its windswept grassy crest and terraces are the partial ruins of St Michael’s Church, which has been embellishing the horizon-line since the 15th century. 

Where to stay: Take a look at Collie, our lovely, dog-friendly shepherd’s hut with a wood-burner, only a few miles from magical Glastonbury. 

 

3. Drink Somerset Cider at Sheppy’s House of Cider

 

A fun day out for those wishing to taste the sweet nectar of Somerset’s breweries, but also for those less inclined to be tantalised by a tipple. Sheppy’s is a 200-year-old family-run farm in the heart of Somerset, known not only for its award-winning cider, but also for its delicious apple juice. Set amongst a 370-acre site with flourishing orchards, a museum of rural life, a tearoom, a farm shop and a Longhorn herd, there’s plenty to do for both adults and children. The tasting counter provides the opportunity to discover the perfect cider for your palate, whilst the farm shop has an excellent selection of locally made produce, including Somerset cheeses, jams and chutneys, biscuits and sweet treats. 

 

4. Discover rare plants at Wells Bishop’s Palace Gardens

 

For those interested in horticulture, gardening and botanicals, the Bishop’s Palace Gardens Rare Plant Fair is a hidden gem to be found within the picturesque medieval cathedral city of Wells. Including the opportunity to buy interesting and unusual plants from nurseries, the fair has taken place each summer since the gardens were recognised as one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s “Partner Gardens”. If you’re visiting at another time of the year, it’s still worth a visit. The gardens are a remarkable spectacle of flora and provide 14 acres of tranquillity amongst herbaceous borders, a rose-scented parterre and an arboretum. Surrounding the gardens are the calm waters of a moat, which the foliage reflects upon to create an additional sense of relaxation. 

 

5. Cycle the countryside at Exmoor National Park 

 

With hundreds of miles of bridleways and roads used as public paths, cycling is a wonderful way to explore Exmoor’s impressive landscape of moorland, woodland, coast and rivers. Heading into the green expanses of the national park, you’re sure to experience the revitalisation that comes with spending time in nature as well as making the most of the fresh countryside air. Including everything from gentle routes for beginners and children to more challenging off-road mountain biking trails, it’s a fun activity for all abilities. Following the upper parts of the hilly landscape provides panoramic views of the countryside, whilst opting for wooded valleys that allow for a cooler and gentler ride. If you don’t have a bike, don’t be deterred. You can hire one from Exmoor Adventures near Porlock Weir. 

Where to stay: Perfect for a family, or for a group of up to six guests, Coombe Lodge is our quirky Scandinavian lodge with a hot tub in Somerset. 

 

6. Paint the landscape at Dillington House 

 

With such a varied and inspiring landscape to explore, it’s no surprise that Somerset is a haven for artists. Retreating into the countryside, the curve of the horizon, the bubbling waters of a stream and the pretty patterns of light shining through the leafy forests can easily inspire the stroke of a brush or the flick of a pencil. The Somerset countryside is bejewelled with nature and the wide expanses of greenery allow artists to appreciate the vibrancy of the outdoors and the colours of the seasons. For those looking to be assisted in their creativity, Dillington House has a wide range of workshops to attend throughout the year. Our favourites are those which involve painting the landscape, however, others include sculpting, screen-printing, bookbinding and embroidery. 

 

7. Write poetry in the Quantock Hills

 

Despite their small size, the Quantock Hills were the first space to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Britain. Much lesser known than other parts of the county, the 12-mile ridge stretches between Bridgewater and Minehead to create a quiet greenspace and a place to escape into nature. The perfect location for enjoying both the wilderness of the outdoors and the peacefulness it brings, the Quantocks’ heathlands, oak woodlands and ancient parklands are also where Coleridge and Wordsworth – the great poets of the Romanticism Movement – found much of the inspiration for their verses. If you’d like to try your hand at penning poetic verses of your own, there are a few better places.

Where to stay: Our picture-perfect hut, situated close to the Quantock hills. Posy is the idyllic hideaway for those wishing to explore this enchanting landscape. 

 

8. Hunt for fossils at Kilve Beach

 

Unbeknownst to many, the Quantocks are home to a fascinating beach that forms part of the Jurassic coastline. As you make your way amongst the glistening rock pools and along the slate and shingle beach which is overlooked by interesting limestone formations, something peculiar may catch your eye. Fossilised remains of ammonites and reptiles lie scattered across the beach, their precious forms preserved within the rocks. With the rhythmic rise and fall of the ocean, fresh discoveries are there to be found all the time. The beach is also backed by low cliffs and a smooth lawn area, making it an idyllic picnic location for refuelling as you listen to the sound of the waves. Sitting atop its grassy banks as you gaze over the beach and out towards the ocean is as pleasing to the soul as it is to the eyes. 

 

9. Take a dip in the Roman Baths

 

Hidden beneath the cobbled streets of Bath, lie the stone remains of one of the most well-preserved ancient religious spas in the world. A trip to the Roman Baths allows you to walk in the footsteps of the Romans, and to take a dip in the natural thermal springs, which still flow with hot water today. Including the original Roman pavements and the ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva, the bathing complex is also next to an award-winning museum with a world-class collection. A must-see for any fans of history or the Romans, artefacts include a gilt bronze head of the goddess, one of Britain’s largest Roman coin collections and countless other Roman antiques. Brought together with cinematic displays and historical knowledge, a visit allows you to uncover the secrets of what used to happen in the city thousands of years ago. 

 

10. Birdwatching in the Levels 

 

The patchwork landscape of the Somerset Levels is an iconic coastal plain stretching south from the Mendips to the Blackdown Hills. Once covered by the ocean – other than for a series of small islands such as Glastonbury Tor – today the moisture-rich wetlands provide the perfect habitat for wading birds including snipes, plovers, shanks and oystercatchers. Making your way amongst the Levels’ footpaths it’s easy to feel as though you are off the beaten track as you watch the birds go about their business. The Levels are also unrivalled in the UK for witnessing the mesmerising murmurations of starlings as they fly in unison. Unsurprisingly, this part of Somerset now enjoys special protection to preserve its rich wildlife and rare species of plants. 

 

11. Visit Castle Carey’s Farmer’s Market 

 

Tucked away in south Somerset, Castle Cary is a small traditional market town. Here, the golden stone of its historical buildings creates a warm glow when the light hits. As well as being a particularly pretty area, Castle Cary is known for the friendliness of its residents. Near the Market House of this vibrant town, an authentic farmers market takes place every Tuesday. Stalls sell fish, meat, bread and organic vegetables. From here, it’s easy to visit the high street, which has a high-quality selection of independent shops, cafés, delicatessens and pubs. Amongst them, the George Hotel is a traditional thatched-roof pub, the ideal stop-off point for a pint or a bite to eat after purchasing your wares. 

 

Take a look at our collection of glamping hideaways in Somerset and start planning your next adventure to this glorious country. From a selection of shepherd’s huts with hot tubs, a Scandinavian lodge and an eccentric wagon, our selection of hideaways are truly one of a kind. 

 

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