COMPETITION: Go wild on the Somerset Levels
PUBLISHED: 10:20 16 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:19 18 July 2013
A new book, Wild Guide: Devon, Cornwall and the South West, documents more than 500 hidden places across the region. Here the authors share their perfect wild weekend in the wonderful empty wildlands of the Somerset Levels
The Somerset Levels, a flat, low-lying wetland dominated by the mysterious Glastonbury Tor, extends east from the Mendips to Taunton. This fertile landscape, criss-crossed by dykes known as ‘rhynes’, was one of the first areas in the region settled by ancient man. Now it is a wild and empty landscape, rich in birdlife and ancient cider orchards – perfect for exploring by bike or canoe.
Somerset, literally ‘land of the summer people’, once was an area inundated in winter and accessible for farming only during the summer.
Yet the neolithic community who settled here around 6,000 years ago constructed a complex system of raised sand and wooden trackways for fishing, hunting and foraging in the wetter months. One of the oldest existing trackways, The Sweet Track, dating from about 3800BC, can still be explored.
Wildlife is abundant on the Levels and there are several nature reserves, including Shapwick and Westhay. Habitats range from secluded fenland to lush wildflower meadows and a mosaic of lakes, fringed with rustling reedbeds and busy with otters. In the magical winter landscape, the great skies come alive with huge flocks
of starlings that create extraordinary, spiralling patterns against the
One of the most popular attractions in this part of Somerset is Glastonbury Tor, but there are other, quieter holy places, such as the ruined church up on Burrow Mump, or the two hills on each side of Compton Dundon.
No visit to this part of Somerset, the home of traditional scrumpy, would be complete without a trip to one of the old cider orchards, beautiful when laden with blossom in spring or with ripening fruit in summer and autumn. Stock up with supplies of still or sparkling cider from one of the traditional cider-making farms. Add delicious local cheeses, smoked fish, bread and salad, and enjoy a lazy picnic lunch.
For more tips on visiting the Somerset Levels see August’s Somerset Life.
Somerset Life has teamed up with event organisers to offer three lucky winners the chance to win a copy of the book.
To enter answer the question below or send the answer to Wild Guide Competition, Somerset Life, Archant House, Babbage Road, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5JA.
Usual Archant rules apply and the editor’s decision is final.
The winner will be notified after the closing date of 21 August.
Thanks for your interest but this competition has now closed