Somerset is well known for its apple cider, known as ‘scrumpy’ and its broad country dialect. It has some beautiful natural countryside and an interesting mystical history.
Glastonbury, on its isolated Tor, has been inhabited for millennia with evidence of human settlements of hunter gatherers dating back to Mesolithic times. It is associated in legend with King Arthur as Avalon is thought to be Glastonbury. King Arthur’s bones are reputedly laid to rest in the 12th century Glastonbury Abbey. A wooden causeway called the Sweet Track was discovered in the peat bogs in 1970, preserved from around 3800BC and was an ancient route through these once marshy, waterlogged wetlands. The Romans have left evidence of their occupation from AD47 and many Norman and Medieval buildings remain in castles and churches throughout Somerset.
The Mendip Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with rolling hills and many caves. Exmoor, with its rugged coastline and heather moorland, is a protected National Park, one of the smallest in Britain. It is inhabited mainly by wild Exmoor ponies, deer and sheep. Walking and cycling are popular ways to explore the lovely county of Somerset. The 36-mile Coleridge Way links many paths walked by the poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and immortalized in his sonnets and poetry.
The two main cities in Somerset are Bath and Wells. Wells has a beautiful Cathedral, one of the finest in England, and has over 300 medieval statues on the West front alone. There is also a Bishop’s Palace and a preserved market square. The town is delightful to walk around as it is quite small and compact. Bath is a much grander city, built by the Romans as Aquae Sulis. Its natural hot springs were known to have health-giving properties and the pump room is still in use as a Spa today. Bath’s grand Georgian architecture includes the Crescent. The notable Cathedral, the Assembly rooms and Queen Square are all well worth visiting, preferably on a guided tour with a commentary.
The coast of Somerset borders the Bristol Channel and has some beautifully unspoilt resorts such as Porlock, Minehead and Watchet.