A holiday or short break in Somerset has the capacity to inspire and intoxicate in equal measure.
The cider capital of Britain has provided inspirational backdrops for writers and poets such as Coleridge, Wordsworth and Evelyn Waugh – all of whom lived in Somerset.
And you can be inspired, too, in a variety of different ways in a variety of settings. A largely rural county, the beaches and coves overlooked by towering cliffs contrast with the flat plains of the Somerset Levels.
Permeating the entire county, and providing yet further inspiration for any budding writer or artist, is an overwhelming sense of history, myth, folklore and legend – exhibited in both its purest and most exciting forms at Glastonbury.
The world-famous Glastonbury Festival actually takes place in the nearby village of Pilton, but the small town of Glastonbury itself is also a centre for spiritual pilgrimage, usually of the pagan, druid and plain old mystical varieties. The town is often claimed to have been the centre of Avalon – a legendary Arthurian land, famed for its apples.
The Holy Grail is Glastonbury Tor, a National Trust-managed hill topped by an historical tower. The breathtaking view from the top is entirely panoramic, and affords a magnificent perspective of the festival in June.
If communal gatherings aren’t your thing, Somerset has a lot more to give.
Renowned beach resorts Minehead and Weston-Super-Mare provide perfect family holiday destinations, complete with amusements on the promenade, donkey rides on the beach and fabulous fish & chip shops. Somerset’s quieter coastal spots offer more peaceful alternatives, with a great range of coastal walks to be found winding through the various villages.
One of the greatest walks of them all – the epic South West Coast Path - begins in Minehead and takes in the Exmoor National Park, before finding its way through Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Exmoor’s exposed moorlands also spills into Devon, although almost three-quarters of it is located in Somerset.
The area’s towns host a huge range of accommodation, including holiday and caravan parks, cottages and hotels, all of which provide a great base for exploring the likes of Exmoor. And Exmoor takes some exploring.
Take a Bath in Somerset
Arguably the jewel in Somerset’s crown is the Georgian spa town of Bath, which attracts nearly four million visitors every year. And you’ll be pleased to know they don’t flock here to get drunk and do the conga around town of an evening. Bath is rich in cultural heritage, confirmed by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a goldmine of stunning architecture. Royal Crescent – often labelled the most picturesque street in Britain – is a must see. It’s like eavesdropping on the 1700s.
Getting tipsy in Somerset isn’t an entirely alien concept, however. Somerset boasts some of, if not the finest locally-produced cider in Britain - and no trip here would be complete without paying a visit to one of the orchards or cider farms and perhaps sampling a glass or four of scrumpy. And what better way to freshen up the morning after with a galvanising gulp of local apple juice.
Somerset is tucked away in a corner of Britain rich in holiday appeal and Let's Stay Somerset offers some of the best in Somerset accommodation. Bordered by four wonderful counties, including Devon and Dorset, it is sometimes overlooked. But if some of our greatest ever writers can be inspired here, there’s a fair old chance you could be too – why not see for yourself?
More about Somerset
Visit Somerset: http://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/
Somerset County Council: http://www.somerset.gov.uk/irj/public
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