19 things to see and do in Somerset after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 July 2020

Glastonbury Tor (c) geograph.org.uk/Eugene Birchall

Glastonbury Tor (c) geograph.org.uk/Eugene Birchall

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HOLLY LOUISE EELS shares 19 great things to see and do in our county after lockdown

Exmoor National Park

Forget exotic adventures this year and get back with nature at one of the most incredible wild spots Somerset has to offer. Whether you are an experienced walker or someone who prefers a casual stroll, Exmoor National Park is a picturesque delight for anyone. This beautiful landscape of moorland, woodland, coast and rivers, shaped by people and nature, boasts so many amazing characteristics, including Tarr Steps’ famous ‘Clapper Bridge’, the longest and oldest of its kind in the UK!

exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

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The Roman Baths

Whether you are a tourist or a local, it’s hard not to fall in love with Bath. This beautiful city and enthralling Georgian architecture oozes rich history and heritage combined with vibrant contemporary culture. So, step back in time and take a look around one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. Then soak in a hot spa of your own at Thermae Bath Spa; Britain’s original natural thermal spa. 

romanbaths.co.uk

thermaebathspa.com

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Wells Cathedral

Regarded as one of the most stunning cathedrals in Europe, Wells Cathedral is hugely significant as an example of the early English gothic style of the 12th century. Famous for its impressive western front, which is covered in medieval carvings and its golden spires, expect to be blown away by its stunning characteristics inside and out. In the heart of England’s smallest city, Wells Cathedral is one of the most beautiful and poetic of English cathedrals.

wellscathedral.org.uk

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Glastonbury

When many people hear the word ‘Glastonbury’ they immediately think of the biggest contemporary arts and music festival in the world, but there is so much more to this unique town. Steeped in history and myth, it boasts beautiful countryside, breath-taking nature reserves, museums and tours, welcoming so many fantastic days out. It’s a truly a unique place of fascinating spiritual heritage and home to the famous landmark Glastonbury Tor and Abbey.

nationaltrust.org.uk/glastonbury-tor

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Ham Wall

You don’t have to be a bird watcher to appreciate the sight of starlings filling the sky - it can be a magical experience for all. One of the places you can experience this beautiful view is RSPB Ham Wall, a truly rich landscape that boasts extraordinary wildlife, breathtaking views and landmark scenes; somewhere I’m sure you will return time and time again. There are also opportunities to experience this amazing nature reserve by canoe! 

rspb.org.uk

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Fossil Hunting

There is nothing as exciting than taking a walk along the beach and stumbling across a fossil that dates back hundreds of millions of years. Somerset offers an abundance of locations to set you up for your fossil hunting expedition, including Blue Anchor to Kilve Beach. They say the best tools for fossil hunting is a good pair of eyes, so if you are fortunate enough you may find all sorts of things like reptile remains and unusual shells.

visit-exmoor.co.uk/point-of-interest/kilve-beach

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Seaside Fun

Days out at the seaside with bucket and spade in hand are a great British tradition. From beach huts to long piers jutting out into the ocean, get nostalgic and enjoy the Grand Pier in Weston-Super-Mare. Guaranteed to bring you lots of good old-fashioned fun, exhilarating rides and arcade machines, delicious traditional fish and chips, and so much more. But a seaside trip wouldn’t be complete without those sweet treats too.

grandpier.co.uk

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Bat walk

It is no surprise that Cheddar Gorge on the Mendip Hills is one of Britain’s most spectacular landmarks. Made up of lots of small caves, its two largest, Gough’s Cave and Cox’s Cave, open for a wildlife experience. As the sun sets, this is the perfect time for a bat walk. The caves are home to the UK’s largest colony of bats, including endangered greater horseshoe bats. As you are there, go and see one of Britain’s oldest complete skeletons, Cheddar Man.  

cheddargorge.co.uk

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Castles

This county is definitely not short of very impressive castles! So, why not be a king or queen for the day and visit one of them?  From Nunney Castle in Frome to Farleigh Hungerford near Bath and Dunster in Minehead, there’s a place for anyone to feel like royalty. However, don’t forget to visit the spectacular medieval gatehouse and the ruined tower of Dunster Castle. Hundreds of years-old, expect to be blown away by the vistas and subtropical gardens.

nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle-and-watermill

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Stargazing

It is inevitable that many of us have been putting off so many things to see, but don’t let stargazing be one of them. This county has some of the best spots to witness this unforgettable sight, including Wimbleball Lake, Bossington Hill near Minehead or Dunkery Beacon and Webber’s Post. Exmoor has some of the brightest stars in the country owing to its status as Europe’s first designated International Dark Sky Reserve.

visit-exmoor.co.uk/dark-skies

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Walk For Miles

We have been cooped up for so long, so what better way to celebrate than to explore the county and try the world-renowned South West Coast Path. It is England’s longest distance footpath and National Trail and stretches for an impressive 630 miles running from Minehead. Whether you want to take on the challenge or spend a day exploring, The South West Coast Path Association has created seven one-day circular walks around the Wilderness Coast of Exmoor.

southwestcoastpath.org.uk

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West Somerset Railway

Did you know this heritage steam railway is the longest independent railway in Britain? Operating between Minehead and Bishop’s Lydeard, this historic train line with retro engines gives you the perfect opportunity to see Exmoor at its finest. From the medieval village of Dunster to the ancient harbour town of Watchet, this line has been carrying heritage steam and diesel passenger trains for more than four decades. It now carries more than 200,000 passengers a year.

west-somerset-railway.co.uk

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Wild Swimming

Somerset is lucky to have a wide selection of spectacular wild swimming spots. But what better place to get to grips with open water swimming than at one of the UK’s best diving centres? It is a great place to work on your diving techniques. Or, visit Tarr Steps Nature Reserve in Exmoor National Park for its beautiful and tranquil setting. Whether it be a wild swim or a natural dip, what are you waiting for? Take the plunge!

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Coleridge Cottage

Has spending more time than usual at home, or even in the same spot made you realise how little you know about your county’s history? Well now is your chance to seize this opportunity and embrace the depths of tales and treasure this county has to offer.  Start off with The Grade II 17th century home, Coleridge Cottage, a National Trust treasure where English poet Sam Taylor Coleridge wrote some of his best, inspirational works.

nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage

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Ebbor Gorge

Yes, we have already mentioned Cheddar Gorge because it is one of the most popular attractions in the Mendip Hills. But its ‘mini-me’, Ebbor Gorge has remained a hidden gem and is definitely worth a visit. 

Perhaps it is even the most unspoilt gorge in the Mendips. It is designated as a National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England.  It really is nature at its finest with its small streams, woodland, rocks and caves.

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Gardens

Beautiful gardens are not just for the summer. There are so many heavenly gardens generally open all-year-round, leaving us very spoilt for choice. From the earliest snowdrops to the warmth of dahlias, there’s always plenty to inspire at The National Trust 17th-century manor Barrington Court. You also won’t be disappointed by the Bishop’s Palace Garde, which has 14 acres of stunning, tranquil gardens. Or maybe stroll through the famous unique collection of gardens at Hestercombe Gardens.

ngs.org.uk

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Out in the wild outdoors

Being one with nature, is the perfect place for escapism and we are very fortunate to have an abundance of wide-open spaces and reserves across the county. Avalon Marshes is one of them. This magical place is said to be one of Britain’s best wetland nature reserves and evidently that is true. It lies in the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors and most importantly it supports and boasts rich cultural heritage and diversity of wildlife. 

avalonmarshes.org

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Jane Austen

Somerset is such a historic county that is accountable for fascinating landmarks and historical places to tick off your list. The Jane Austen Centre needs to be one of them. Perhaps one of the most favoured authors of all time, this county had a lot of influence on Jane Austen novels. The Centre also explores how the city of Bath impacted upon Jane Austen’s life and writing in much-loved books such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

janeausten.co.uk

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Get your art fix

Want to add some culture to your life?  The Victoria Art Gallery is a great start. This insightful gallery, which houses Bath and North East Somerset’s collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts is suitable for all tastes. Visit the pioneering world-class Hauser & Wirth Somerset a multi-purpose arts centre, which showcases art, architecture, and the remarkable Somerset landscape through new and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. u

victoriagal.org.uk

hauserwirth.com

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