Beautiful Somerset is often ignored by holidaymakers in their rush towards Cornwall or Devon. However, this gorgeous county, with its gently rolling hills, green fields dotted with sleepy villages and pretty market towns is a perfect spot for families looking for a ‘getting away from it all’ break; and you don’t have to battle the holiday traffic who are purposefully heading down the road to the south coast! Somerset has coast and countryside, stunning historic houses and castles, some great museums and plenty to fill a family holiday with memorable days out.
We’ve holidayed as a family in Somerset every year for the last eight years and I’ve come to love the unassuming quietness of this county. There’s real diversity here, from orderly farmland in the east, through to the wildness of Exmoor in the west. There are some great beaches along its northern shoreline. The resorts of Minehead, Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon offer bucket and spade relaxation with traditional beach resort sidelines of donkeys and fish and chips. If you prefer your seaside time to be quieter, then try fossil hunting at Kilve Beach or head to the pretty harbour town of Porlock Weir.
We’ve purposefully ignored Bath and Bristol, leaving their urban glories for a future ‘Let’s Go’ and instead we’re bringing you rural Somerset in all it’s lush, green loveliness. It’s the countryside here which lures me back year after year. You’ll find three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty here: the timeless Blackdown Hills in the south of the county, the Mendip Hills in the north and the rolling Quantock Hills in the middle. If you prefer your countryside to be a bit flatter try the Somerset Levels with Glastonbury Tor rising magically from the flat and fertile fields, or for a bit of drama try the Exmoor National Park. The county is packed with ancient woodland, nature reserves and lots and lots of space to breath, to stretch the legs, to stop and stare at glorious views; to get away from it all and enjoy being a family. Once you’ve discovered this easy-to-get-to county I think you’ll come back again and again!
It’s not all rural bliss, there are some gorgeous towns and villages to amble around and enjoy a cream tea in.
Wells is England’s smallest and possibly prettiest city. With its stunning cathedral and Vicars close, it is a historic gem. The city has a pretty market place and some lovely mediaeval architecture. Just the place to enjoy a quiet stroll and drink in the old world charm of yesteryear!
Somerset is packed with really pretty, golden-stoned market towns and Castle Cary is one of the most attractive. Splendidly isolated yet easy to get to, Castle Cary is just a few miles off the A303. If you love quirky independent shops you’ll enjoy this little market town with its high quality book and antique shops as well as delicatessens and an ironmonger. The Main Street is particularly splendid, with gorgeous architecture and some really attractive buildings. Come on a Tuesday if you want the bustle of market day and stock up on fresh produce!
If you’re heading off to see the wonders of Cheddar Gorge make sure you pop into Axbridge. This charming market town lies at the foot of the beautiful Mendip Hills, and has a history which winds back to the time of Alfred the Great. It has a stunning medieval square at the heart of the town with pretty shops and cafes nestling among its half timbered buildings.
Don’t miss out Glastonbury if you’re coming to Somerset. The town is dominated by the Glastonbury Tor which rises dramatically from the completely flat Somerset Levels, to a height of 525 feet on top of which sits the tower of a ruined 15th-century church. The views are simply incredible from the summit. In the town itself you’ll find yourself in a different world to the sleepy and timeless market towns of Somerset; there’s a distinctly ‘new age’ feel here. It’s a town shrouded in mystery and legend; from Arthur and the Grail through to its ruined Abbey, Glastonbury has a history full of myths and magic.