Somerset is home to some fantastic points of interest to visit on a day out. No matter what the weather, come rain or come shine, Somerset has many fascinating all-weather places to head to. However, dressing and equipping yourself to meet the weather head-on is all part of the fun on a day out in Somerset.
Somerset is a beautiful county in the south-west of England. The legend of King Arthur looms large over the county; as does its spiritual associations with Jesus’ and Joseph of Arimathea’s mythical pilgrimage to England; the Civil War battle fields like Sedgemoor and the former haunts of the Romantic Poets like Coleridge and Shelley around The Quantocks. Ancient Glastonbury, a spiritual centre for centuries, is home to some very interesting ruins like the Abbey or St Michael’s Tower atop of Glastonbury Tor.
As a holiday destination, it draws in thousands of people for, arguably, the best live music festival in the world, Glastonbury! Somerset’s coastline meets the Bristol Channel, and there are a number of lovely resorts like Weston-super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, and Minehead. The county can be loosely divided between the low-lying Somerset Levels, and the lofty Quantocks. When the weather turns, head indoors to Wookey Hole, a cave system near Wells; Cheddar Gorge is awesome for walkers, climbers, drivers, cyclists, and view baggers; Dunster Castle and village which has as much to see inside as outside; The West Somerset Railway which is the country’s longest, stretching from Taunton to Minehead and is a hit with people of all ages, or if you like criminal history, stop by England’s longest running ‘clink’ at the time of closure, Shepton Mallet Jail Museum. This is skimming the surface of the sheer number of fantastic places of interest in Somerset, so let us show you why this south-west region of England is a great holiday destination all year round.
We have put together a list of some great places to visit on a couples’ break to Somerset no matter how the weather turns out. There’s always something cool to see. We have rounded up some lesser known curios mixed in with some popular county highlights for you to add to your Somerset holiday itinerary:
Man has been hiding in caves from the English weather for aeons. Holiday-making man has been taking his family to Wookey Hole to hide from the English weather for decades. This visitor attraction is one of the best: offering great value and consistent entertainment in Somerset; most of us can probably recall a childhood visit too, so it has a sense of personal nostalgia to it. Returning as an adult there’s still much to enjoy, especially a subterranean tour of its enticing network of caverns and subterranean tunnels. Locally produced cheese is stored to mature in some of the outer caverns and you can even buy on-site.
Somerset’s newest yet oldest visitor attraction is open for tours. Before closing down as a correctional facility in 2013, Shepton Mallet Prison was the longest continuously operational prison in England. First established in 1610, the prison has been home to several infamous characters such as The Kray Twins and Charlie Richardson. England’s most famous hangmen, Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint both worked here in the 1920s too. A distinctive stone structure, this has been used as a film location with several horrors and even a Bollywood film having been shot there. Tours run daily and the lease for this property to run as an attraction has been extended until 2020, so this might not be open to the public forever.
Nether Stowey is a small village between Watchet and Dunster. A fast section of the A39 bypasses it so it’s easy to miss, however, if you feather the brakes and turn off you will find an unspoilt English village with several lovely pubs, and the 11th century earthworks at Castle Mount, high up the hill at the southern end. On a clear day you can see across the county to Exmoor in the West; Wales and the Bristol Channel to the north and across the Levels to Glastonbury Tor. Down below in the village you will find yourself at the historical heart of Romantic British poetry; here you’ll find the National Trust-managed Coleridge Cottage. The former home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, you can tour around the rooms and small garden where he probably penned his masterpieces like Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. You can also see a statue of the Ancient Mariner and his albatross at Watchet Harbour. The Quantock Hills are home to some outstanding beauty spots, and many of the trails that Coleridge and his famous contemporaries would have wandered still exist (the Coleridge Way begins in the village); so if you feel compelled to compose some verse, this is the place. You can pick up the West Somerset Steam Railway from near to Nether Stowey for amazing woodland or heathland walks with wild ponies.
At the summit of Wearyall Hill, on the outskirts of Glastonbury, sits the original thorn from the legend that sprang forth when Jesus’ uncle, Joseph of Arimithea thrust his staff into the ground. The flower is a common hawthorn that flowers twice a year. Attempts to propagate the thorn from seeds and cuttings have failed since before the 20th century. Luckily trees from earlier grafts still grow in and around Glastonbury. The place is of interest to religious pilgrims, botanists, and naturalists alike. The hill’s profile also looks like that of a slumbering dragon, so train your eyes carefully when you visit. In recent years, the thorn has been attacked but a more recent sapling has endured unhindered.
A decisive English Civil War Battle was fought and won at Westonzoyland, Somerset Levels. The battlefield can still be visited today, as well as many others in this area. The land is criss-crossed with waterways and many of the farm boundaries have remained unchanged. The Battle of Sedgemoor took place on 6th July 1685 and it was the final conflict between James Scott, the 1st Duke of Monmouth and James II. In the end, victory went to the Royals.
It was the last attempt to seize the British throne and widely recognised as the last battle on English soil. Today there is a picturesque battlefield walk around the site and the village of Westonzoyland, which is also home to a lovely pub.
To round up our list of interesting places and landmarks in Somerset, we’ll add a peculiar yet natural phenomenon in for good measure. Surfers flock to the edge of the Bristol Channel to witness a freak wave that runs its full length. They come in clusters over a period of days, a little longer than a week, several times a year. Predictions for wave quality are based on spring tides and some five-star bores can roll in, in-excess of 10 metres. Some of the best places to catch the bore in Somerset and Gloucestershire include: Sharpness, Newnham, Stonebench, Minsterworth and Overbridge. For instance: In 2018, the months of February, March, August, September and October all had a few days that saw surges during the day and night. Surfers keep an avid eye on Magic Seaweed for the latest developments to see when the next set is due.
There are many mores places to investigate like the Mendip Hills, Bath, Wells, Porlock, Yeovil, Bridgwater and Dulverton too.
Somerset is a great place to take the family on a holiday to the South-West, so whether you’re on a quiet couples’ break, an extended family break, or an expedition with friends, we have the holiday accommodation for you. From holiday cottages in secluded country locales to seaside apartments, romantic boltholes for two and dog-friendly home-from-homes for growing families, let us inspire your Somerset holiday today.