This striking edifice, maintained by the National Trust, is the tallest three-sided obelisk in the world. You will doubtless have spotted it from the motorway when heading towards the Devon border from Somerset. Park in the National Trust car park and take a short, level stroll to the monument to appreciate its 175ft grandeur and the wonderful panoramic views. There’s no visitors’ centre, but information boards tell of the monument’s history and small children may enjoy the National Trust’s spotters sheet. If you want to extend your walk, head downhill behind the monument to follow a circular woodland route. The monument has recently been subject to a huge repair project and scaffolding has only just been taken down. Be aware that work may still be ongoing.
After your morning’s stroll, spend some time in Wellington, a small market town just over the Somerset border. It prospered from the wool trade in the 18th century and continues to be a bustling location. A good range of independent shops and eateries make it well worth a visit. Wellington Park was restored in recent years and has an excellent children’s play area. Browse The Emporium, an award winning store supporting small nearly 50 small local art and crafts businesses. Wellington gave its name to the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, who is commemorated at the Monument.
Housed in Taunton’s 12th century castle, the museum hosts a wide collection of artefacts such as toys, fossils, silver, pottery, natural history, military history and a magnificent Roman mosaic found at the Low Ham Roman Villa. The museum is laid out in chronological order. Don’t miss the “Frome Hoard”, a hoard of more than 50,000 Roman coins found in April 2010 by a metal detectorist! Find out about our other local museums.
The Somerset levels present the ideal growing conditions for willow and traditional basket-making ‘withies’ have been grown in the area for centuries. A real hidden gem, they have a willow sculpture trail which is perfect for children of all ages and there’s a small selection of independent craft shops, a café and visitors’ centre. Guided tours are available if you’d like to find out more about this fascinating traditional craft.
A full day out, Hestercombe near Taunton invites you to “discover Somerset and lose yourself in fifty acres of lakes, temples, cascades, tranquil woodland walks, formal terraces, vivid colours and views that take your breath away…..” A really varied historic garden spanning three centuries of garden design. Some garden design heavyweights have exerted their influence over the years. The stunning Edwardian formal garden was designed by Gertude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens. Find out about other gardens to visit.
The rich and varied landscape of Exmoor has something for everyone. It’s well-known as a walkers’ paradise and has much to offer nature-lovers. Explore moorland, woodland, pretty villages, rivers and streams and its dramatic coastline. Ponies and red deer are some of its most famous inhabitants, but the range of wildlife on this unique piece of the southwest is diverse. moorland, rich oak woodland, clear streams and dramatic coastline, Exmoor has a great variety of habitats.
Exmoor National Park was the first place in the UK to be designated as a Dark Sky reserve in 2011. This means it is home to exceptionally starry skies. It has some of the darkest skies in the country and light pollution in the area is managed so it is another fantastic area to stargaze. More information about star gazing on Exmoor.
Dramatic Dunster Castle feels steeped in history. It has had just two families living there throughout its existence. The most recent family, the Luttrells, lived there for 600 years, right up until 1976. Now run by the National Trust, the castle continues to have the atmosphere of a comfortable country home. In addition to the Castle with its spectacular views over Somerset and the Bristol Channel, subtropical, temperate and Mediterranean plants make the gardens a joy to explore.
Stretching between Bishops Lydeard and the popular seaside resort of Minehead, this is the longest heritage railway in England. Take a nostalgic steam-powered ride through the scenic Somerset countryside on a route with ten unique stations dotted along the way, where you can hop off to explore, enjoy lunch or a pint of ale. A special way to travel back in time!
The Abbey is a rare example of a well-preserved medieval monastery. It is still lived in by the Kennard family, who inherited it in 2009 and continue to farm there, just as the Cistercians did all those centuries ago. As well as enjoying the exquisite interior of the abbey, they hold various exciting events in the grounds.
Forde Abbey’s award-winning gardens provide a range of interest from the straight lines of the formal gardens to the winding paths leading away from the house. Enjoy superb views as you explore. The open lawns make Forde Abbey a great place for children to roam free and picnics are welcomed. Since the monks first tended the gardens nine centuries ago, they have evolved into the colourful family-run attraction you see today.
Finally, for more history and a shoppers’ delight, find out about Taunton, Somerset’s county town in our earlier blog.
We do our best to make sure information in our blogs is accurate, but please check with locations direct before visiting. Covid-19 regulations may mean that some attractions are closed. Again, please check whether an attraction is open in advance of travelling, to avoid disappointment.