Somerset, land of cider (scrumpy), Cheddar cheese and Acker Bilk.
The county has a 40 mile border with the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary. On a clear day the coast of Wales can be seen from the Mendip Hills above Burrington. Gloucestershire and Bristol define the rest of its northern border. Wiltshire is in the east, Dorset is the southern border and Devon lies to the west. North Somerset, with its centre on Weston Super Mare and Bristol, which have their own administration will be included. They are both within the geographical area.
The green hills of Somerset, the beautiful Mendips and Quantocks with their steep valleys and forty shades of green of the trees in springtime.
The Mendips are limestone hills running from Frome in the east to Weston Super Mare in the west, and the tops are sometimes shrouded in mist. When the mists part the views are brilliant.
Photograph © Copyright L Temple
Diverse are the Quantocks – beautiful heathland on the hilltops and woods, pasture and parkland cover steep slopes on the west. Large woods of sturdy oak and bogs adorn the combes of the north east. That the area was chosen as both a Biological Site of Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is hardly surprising. The hills run from Taunton to the Bristol Channel, a distance of about 15 miles. The Coleridge Way, a walking trail, runs from Nether Stowey to Porlock near the coast, a distance of 36 miles.
The Somerset Levels are an area of considerable biodiversity with a large number of areas of special scientific interest covering both plant and animal species. The area lies between the Quantocks and the Mendip Hills with the Polden Hills roughly in the centre. The area is mainly agricultural and was at one time the centre of apple growing for the cider industry, now less important. The area is flat and subject to flooding. Great area for cyclists.
Most of the Exmoor National Park is within the county, but about 30% is in Devon. An area of nearly 270 square miles of rolling open moorland. Lorna Doone country. Cycling of all kinds, walking and horse riding are popular. An area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it lends itself also to quiet relaxing holidays and/or touring.
Taunton is the county town of Somerset and its largest town. It lies to the south east of the county close to the border with Devon. The County Cricket Ground is home to both the Somerset Cricket Club and to England's Women's Cricket. Taunton Castle houses the county museum. The famous Taunton Flower Show is held in August at Vivary Park.
Bath, a World Heritage Site, nestled in the Avon valley among its surrounding hills. is a Georgian city of Celtic and Roman origins. Both its Celtic and its Roman past are found in the Roman Baths. Hot springs that were a Celtic shrine and the Romans built as a bathing place. The city became popular in Georgian times as a spa resort, hence the magnificent architecture. The spectacular Royal Crescent stems from this era. Coming by road from Salisbury the route comes into Bath from the hills, and beautiful Bath is laid out below.
Wells the sister city to Bath, is set in the southern Mendips. Its name comes from the fact that during the Middle Ages there were three wells that were thought to cure ills. The legend survives in the city's coat of arms. It is a pleasing market city and makes an interesting centre for touring Somerset. Wells Cathedral has a striking, warm, architectural beauty. 356 statues adorn the West front and the Cathedral has the heaviest ring of 10 bells in the world.
Bristol was one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2009. It is England's sixth largest city and sits on the River Avon and it is here that the very important Bristol Harbour developed. It was not only a trading port but a port of exit for many notable explorations. Nowadays it handles the biggest importation of cars into the UK. The Wills family of tobacco fame are responsible for some of the architecture in the city. Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Filton was the centre of the aircraft industry in the city which included the ”Concorde”.
The Balloon Fiesta is held in August at Ashton Court Estate, Bristol. Entry to the Balloon Fiesta is free. Do not miss it - Best free show.
Glastonbury is best known for its Festival which is held at Worthy Farm, Pilton in June. It is the is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world. Get in early it is really popular.
The town lies in the Somerset levels. Glastonbury Tor rises majestically above the town. Owned by the National Trust it is open to the public. Claims of UFO's in the area have been made and ancient myths and legends connect the Tor with ages past. These days associated with New Age communities.
Weston-Super-Mare lies on the Bristol Channel coast The tide goes out a long, long way! The town is a popular seaside resort with a newly restored pier. It is an attractive town of local stone. A famous son is John Cleese, born in the town in 1939. Bob Hope and Isambard Kingdom Brunel lived there at some part of their lives.
Family History in south west England
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© Copyright Lewis Clarke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. www.geograph
There are some delightful cottages around the county. Probably one near where you would love to stay.
Want a cute car? Large car? Small car? Whatever you need you will find it here. You will probably even find your favourite car hire firm here and Car Rentals do not add a penny to their price for looking all over for you!
Please note that National Express coach services have been suspended due to the current pandemic.
Why not travel by Coach
If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express. They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.
Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!
Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!
Virgin Trains is an excellent main line railway.
Traveline is a very useful resource for public transport throughout Wessex, even local buses. There are other pages on Traveline for other parts of the country.