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Touring Somerset

Open heath, wooded valleys, and coastline all characterize Somerset. The Mendip hills, the Quantocks, the Brendons, the Blackdowns, and the Poldens are all worth exploring. The Somerset levels and moors, a lowland wetland, is an area rich in wildlife and important for migrating birds. It is one of the last areas of England where otters survive. Opportunities abound for country walks.

Tarr Steps Exmoor by Barbara Ballard Part of Exmoor National Park lies in Somerset. Tarr Steps, an early middle ages clapper bridge, sits at the bottom of a steep hill and is a popular tourist attraction. It is the largest unmortared stone slab bridge known in Britain. Spend time wandering the narrow but scenic backroads of Exmoor, and youíll discover hidden villages and views.

Cheddar gorge, between limestone cliffs, descends from the north end of the Mendip hills and is riddled with caves, some of which are on show. The village of the same name claims to have christened cheddar cheese. Apparently Henry II bought cheese here and proclaimed it the best heíd ever tasted. Another cave in the Mendips is Wookey Hole.

Dunster cottage by Barbara Ballard The historic town of Dunster is a highlight of a Somerset tour. With its castle on a high hilltop, a packhorse bridge, a priory church, and an atmospheric high street with 17th-19th century buildings, Dunster provides much of interest.

Cleeve Abbey by Barbara Ballard Nearby, 13th century Cleeve Abbeyís red sandstone ruins are remarkable for their surviving medieval hall with its superb timbered roof, supported on stone corbels and decorated with crowned angels.

Leaving Cleeve Abbey, journey onward to Minehead, a Britain in Bloom national winner. An important port in the 14th-17th centuries, it is now a busy holiday resort, boasting a wide sandy beach and an attractive promenade. The 87-foot high tower of St. Michaelís Church dominates the skyline. Winding lanes and stepped hillsides wait to be explored.

View from Porlock Road Exmoor Somerset by Barbara Ballard Porlock, a village of narrow twisting streets and thatched cottages, lies a short distance from Minehead. Surrounded by towering hills, its waterfront is bounded by a mile-long grey shingle ridge.

Dulverton by Barbara Ballard Dulverton is an attractive Exmoor village on the river Barle. The scenic surroundings make for enjoyable meandering around the streets. A tourist information centre, library internet connection and Exmoor centre are conveniently located in the same building.

Selworthy church by Barbara Ballard Selworthy offers white-walled thatched cottages, a stone tithe barn, and a 15th-16th century church. Muchelney is a village of 17th-18th century cottages with a ruined abbey, a 15th century parish church, and a medieval priestís house.

Wedmore, now a conservation village, grew around a Saxon square with the backs of the stone cottages facing the square rather than the fronts. It held fairs and markets and the market cross still stands as does the medieval stone church. Bird watching is a popular activity in the area.

Glastonbury abbey Abbots Kitchen  by Barbara Ballard Glastonbury Abbey and Tor in the town of the same name are top tourist attractions. You will have to ignore the new age mindset and legends of King Arthur and just enjoy the abbey ruins for what they are. The octagonal abbotís kitchen, a medieval cookhouse, is well preserved. If you feel energetic you can climb to the top of the tor. Glastonbury Old Tribunal building by Barbara Ballard Donít miss the small but interesting Glastonbury Lake Village Museum on the main street in the 14th century Tribunal building, where you can learn about the iron age settlements in the area.

Wells cathedral by Barbara Ballard Wells cathedral is well worth a visit with its unique scissors arches, (1338-40), an architectural solution to the problem of subsidence of the crossing tower added after the cathedral was built. Next to the cathedral is the 700-year-old bishopís palace, residence of the bishops of Bath and Wells. The cathedral also houses an early mechanical clock with clockwork knights who exchange blows every hour.

Roman Baths courtesy BathTourism The city of Bath is world renown for its Roman baths, a World Heritage site. The 2000 year old Roman temple and bathing complex has a museum of treasures found on the site. The Pump Room, built in 1795, serves tea. The museum and baths are worth at least a couple of hours as is the Fashion Museum where you can see clothing and accessories dating from Tudor times to the present. Multitudes of historic buildings inhabit the town and include the 1771 Assembly rooms and the abbey, dating from 1499. Pulteney Bridge, built in 1769-74 to Robert Adamís design, was designed with shops on both sides, domed end pavilions, and a Venetian window.

Montacute House by Barbara Ballard Set amidst the rolling Somerset countryside, Montacute House, built of honey-coloured Ham Hill stone, was once described as Ďthe most beautiful Elizabethan house in Englandí. The home, starring in the film, Sense and Sensibility, was the property of Sir Edward Phelips, a politician and lawyer, best known as the opening lawyer for the prosecution in the trial of Guy Fawkes.

Lytes Carey Manor House by Barbara Ballard Tintinhull garden by Barbara Ballard Another Somerset manor house worth a visit is Lytes Cary, constructed in the 15th century. Other interesting historic homes in Somerset include Cleveden Court and Cothay Manor. Barrington Court Gardens and Tintinhull Garden provide interest for garden lovers.

Somerset has a great mix of historic buildings, fascinating towns, interesting museums, and scenic countryside, making it a great holiday destination.

Somerset Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

American Museum in Britain
Claverton Manor, near Bath (on the Avenue off the A36)
Tel: 0 1225 460 503
Web: American Museum

Assembly Rooms
Bennett St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 477 173

Barrington Court Gardens
Near Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0NQ
Tel. 0 1460 242 614 (Infoline)

Bath Abbey
Abbey Church Yard, Bath
Tel. 01225 422 462
Web: Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey Vaults Museum
Bath Abbey, 12 Kingston Buildings, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 422 462
Web: Bath Abbey

Bath Postal Museum
27 Northgate St (on the corner of Green St), Bath
Tel. 0 1225 460 333
Web: Bath Postal Museum

Beckfordís Tower & Museum
Lansdown Road, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 460 705

Bishopís Palace and Gardens
Wells, on the A39
Tel. 0 1749 678 691
Web: Bishopís Palace and Gardens

Bridgwater Museum
Web: Bridgwater Museum

Building of Bath Museum
The Countess of Huntingdonís Chapel, The Vineyards, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 333 895

Bury Castle
Selworthy Beacon, Selworthy, near Minehead
Tel. NA

Cannington Walled Gardens
Church St, Cannington, TA5 2HA
Tel. 0 1278 655 042
Web: Cannington Walled Gardens

Chard Museum
Godworthy House, High St, Chard
Tel. 0 1460 65091
Web: Chard Museum

Cheddar Gorge
Northwest of town of Cheddar
Tel. NA
Chew Valley Nature Reserve
Chew Lake, B3114 south from Chew Stoke; left for West Harptree; head north-east on A368
Tel. NA

Clapton Mill
Clapton, on B3165 Lyme Regis road
Between Crewkerne and Lyme Regis
Tel. 0 1460 72142
Web: Clapton Mill

Clevedon Court
Tickenham Road, Clevedon
Tel. 0 1275 872 257

Cleeve Abbey
Washford, near Watchet, south of the A39
Tel. 0 1984 640 377

Coleridge Cottage
35 Lime St, Nether Stowey, Bridgwater, Somerset
Tel. 0 1278 732 662

Cothay Manor
Greenham, near Wellington
Tel. 0 1823 672 283
Web: Cothay Manor

Dunster Castle
Dunster, top of hill in the village
Tel. 0 1643 823 004 (infoline); 0 1643 821 314
For photos and more information see our article Dunster

Dunster Working Watermill
Dunster, on river Avil, beneath Castle Tor
Tel. 0 1643 821 759

East Lambrook Manor Gardens
South Petherton, TA13 5HH
Tel. 01460 240 328

Farleigh Hungerford Castle
Farleigh Hungerford, on the A366
Tel. 01225 754 026

Fashion Museum
Bath Assembly Rooms, Bennett St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 477 789
Web: Fashion Museum

Fleet Air Arm Museum
RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester
On the B3151
Tel 0 1935 840 565
Web: Fleet Air Arm Museum

Folly Farm Wildlife Discovery Centre
A368 towards Bishop Sutton, then past turning to Chew Magna, take next small turning on left just before reaching Stowey
Tel. NA

Fyne Court
Broomfield, 6 miles south-west of Bridgwater and 6 miles north of Taunton
Tel. 0 1823 451 873

Gantís Mill and Garden
.5 mile from Bruton, off A359
Tel. 0 1749 812 393
Web: Gantís Mill and Garden

Glastonbury Abbey
Magdalene Street, Glastonbury
Tel. 0 1458 832 267
Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Lake Village Museum
9 High St, Glastonbury
Tel. 0 1458 832 954
For photos and more details see our article at Glastonbury Lake Village

Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Somerset
Tel. NA

Glastonbury Tribunal
Glastonbury High St.
Tel. 0 1458 832 954

Ham Hill Country Park
Stoke sub Hamdon
Tel. 0 1935 823 617 (rangerís office)

Ham Wall Wetland
From village of Meare down Ashcott Road to Ashcott Corner where entrance is located; three miles west of Glastonbury in Somerset levels and moors
Tel. 0 1458 860 494

Haynes International Motor Museum
Sparkford, Nr Yeovil, on the A359
Tel 0 1963 440 804
Web: Haynes International Motor Museum

Herschel Museum of Astronomy
19 New King St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 446 865

Hestercombe Gardens
Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton
Tel. 0 1823 413 923

Holburne Museum of Art
Great Pulteney St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 466 669
Web: Holburne Museum of Art

Holy Trinity Parish Church
Tel. 0 1225 864 444 (parish office)

Jane Austen Centre
40 Gay St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 443 000
Web: Jane Austen Centre

Kilver Court Gardens
Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5NF
Tel. 0 1749 340 410

Lytes Cary Manor
Near Charlton Mackrell
Tel. 0 1458 224 471

Montacute House
Tel. 0 1935 823 289

Muchelney Abbey
Muchelney, two miles south of Langport
Tel. 0 1458 250 664

Museum of Somerset
Taunton Castle, Castle Green, Taunton
Tel. 0 1823 255 088

Priestís House
Muchelney, Langport
Tel. 0 1458 253 771

Prior Park Landscape Garden
Ralph Allen Drive, Bath
Tel. 01225 833 422

Radstock Museum
Waterloo Rd, Radstock, near Midsomer Norton
Tel. 0 1761 437 722
Web: Radstock Museum

Roman Baths Museum
Stall St, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 477 734
For photos and more information see our article Bath Roman Spa
Web: Roman Baths

Royal Crescent No. 1
No. 1 Royal Crescent, Bath
Tel. 0 1225 428 126
Web: Bath Preservation Trust

Sally Lunn House
4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX
Tel 0 1225 461 634
Web: Sally Lunn House

Somerset Rural Life Museum
Abbey Farm, Chilkwell Street, Glastonbury
Tel. 0 1458 831 197

SS Great Britain
Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol, BS1 6TY
Tel. 0 117 926 0680
Web: SS Great Britain

St Leonardís Chapel
Farleigh Hungerford
Tel. 0 1225 754 026

Stembridge Tower Mill
High Ham; 2 miles north of Langport off Somerton road to High Ham
Tel. 0 1935 823 289

Victoria Art Gallery
Bath, next to Pulteney Bridge; entrance is opposite the bridge
Tel. 0 1225 477 233
Web: Victoria Art Gallery

Wells Cathedral
Cathedral Green, Wells
Tel. 01749 674 483 (cathedral office)
Web: Wells Cathedral

Wells and Mendip Museum
8 Cathedral Green, Wells, Somerset
Tel. 0 749 673 477
Web: Wells and Mendip Museum

Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve
From B3151 turn right 1km beyond Westhay, continue for 1km to car park
Tel. NA

Somerset Tourist Information Centres

Bath TIC
Abbey Chambers, Abbey Church Yard
Bath, BA1 1LY
Tel: 0 1225 477 101; Fax: 0 1225 477 787

Bridgwater TIC
50 High St, Bridgwater, TA6 3BL
Tel: 0 1278 427 652; Fax: 0 1278 453 489

Bruton TIC
The Dovecote Building
26 High St, Bruton, BA10 0AA
Tel. 0 1935 462 462; Fax. 01749 814985
Open: year round, Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri, 9.30am-12.30pm, Thu, 10am-12noon

Burnham-on-Sea TIC
South Esplanade, Burnham-on-Sea, TA8 1BU
Tel: 0 1278 787 852; Fax: 0 1278 781 282

Castle Cary TIC
The Market House, Castle Cary, BA7 7AH
Tel. 0 1963 351 763
Open: year round, Tue-Fri, 9.30am-12.30pm; additional summer hours on Wed, Thu, Fri, 2.30-4.30pm

Chard TIC
The Guildhall, Fore St, Chard, TA20 1PP
Tel/Fax. 0 1460 65710
Open: Easter-end Oct, Mon-Fri, 10am-4.30pm, Sat 10am-1pm (all year); Nov-Easter, Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm

Cheddar TIC
The Gorge, Cheddar, BS27 3QE
Tel: 0 1934 744 071; Fax: 0 1934 744 614

Crewkerne TIC
Town Hall, Market Sq, Crewkerne, TA18 7LN
Tel. 0 1935 462 462; Fax. 0 1460 78790
Open: Summer, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-3.30pm except Thu from 9.30am-1pm; Sat, 10am-12noon; in winter, limited information available

Frome TIC
The Round Tower, Justice Lane, Frome, BA11 1BB
Tel: 0 1373 467 271; Fax: 0 1373 451 733

Glastonbury TIC
The Tribunal, 9 High St, Glastonbury, BA6 9DP
Tel: 0 1458 832 954; Fax: 0 1458 832 949

Ilminster TIC
The Meeting House, East St, Ilminster, TA19 0AN
Tel. 0 1460 57294
Open: Summer, Mon-Sat, 10am-1pm; in winter, limited information available

Langport TIC
Bow St, Langport, TA10 9PR
Tel. 0 1458 253 527
Open: Summer, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-1pm and 2-5pm; Sat, 9.30am-1pm; in winter, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-12noon

Minehead TIC
17 Friday St, Minehead, TA24 5UB
Tel: 0 1643 702 624; Fax: 0 1643 707 166

Sedgemoor TIC
Sedgemoor Services, M5 South, Axbridge, BS26 2UF
Tel: 0 1934 750 833; Fax: 0 1934 750 755

Shepton Mallet TIC
48 High St, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5AS
Tel: 0 1749 345 258; Fax: 0 1749 345 258

Somerton TIC
Jaspers Media Centre, West St, Somerton, TA11 7PS
Tel. 0 1935 462 462; Fax. 0 1458 274 069
Open: year round, Mon-Fri, 9am-12noon

Street TIC
Clark's Village, Farm Rd, Street, BA16 0BB
Tel: 0 1458 447 384; Fax: 0 1458 447 393

South Somerset TIC
Cartgate, A303/A3088
Stoke sub Hamdon, TA14 6RA
Tel. 0 1935 829 333; Fax: 0 1935 824 644
Open: Easter-end Oct, 10am-5pm, daily; closed 1-1.30pm; Nov-Easter, Mon and Fri, 10am-3pm

Taunton TIC
The Library, Paul St, Taunton, TA1 3XZ
Tel: 0 1823 336 344; Fax: 0 1823 340 308

Wellington TIC
30 Fore St, Wellington, TA21 8AQ
Tel: 0 1823 663 379; Fax: 0 1823 667 279

Wells TIC
Town Hall, Market Place, Wells, BA5 2RB
Tel: 0 1749 672 552; Fax: 0 1749 670 869

Weston-Super-Mare TIC
Beach Lawns, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1AT
Tel: 0 1934 888 800; Fax: 0 1934 641 741

Wincanton TIC
Town Hall, Market Place, Wincanton, BA9 9LD
Tel. 0 1963 31693
Open: summer, Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm and 2-4pm; Sat, 9.30am-12.30pm; winter, Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm and 2-4pm

Yeovil TIC
Petters House, Petters Way
Yeovil, BA20 1SH
Tel. 01935 462 781

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Bath Tourism

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Some of our Somerset Articles
Dunster Parish Church
Exmoor National Park
Glastonbury Lake Village
Glastonbury Abbey
Other England Articles

Stay at a lovely quiet farmhouse in Somerset
A great place to stay in Exmoor National Park
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