To celebrate the soft hues of autumn and freedom from lockdown, we travelled to Somerset for a long weekend of countryside luxury. But our choice prompted questions from friends. Why were we going? What was Somerset famous for?
What is Somerset famous for?
Living in the UK, I'm always surprised at how so many place can slip beneath the radar. Somerset is definitely one of those places.
I mean, at first glance it seems firmly on the radar, bleeping lights, soaring alarms, important looking people scurrying around in naval uniforms on the radar, the works. Because of the city of Bath and all its UNESCO World Heritage Site glory.
But after that, the radar falls silent. Once people have taken in the Royal Crescent, Circus, the Roman Baths and all the other beauty that Bath has to offer, they seem to move on.
Well, not on this blog. Not any more.
If you love the idea of a beautiful, rustic rural retreat in England... If places like the Cotswolds, Pembrokeshire and the Forest of Dean speak in some way to your soul.
Well, then, you'll love a trip to a postcard pretty cottage in Somerset and all that the area has to offer.
For I am about to tell you what Somerset is famous for.
Disclosure - I was hosted at Sunrise Cottage for review purposes. However, as ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise, what is the point?!
Planning a Break in Somerset
With a cosy romantic fire, timber beams and a view of green fields, Sunrise Cottage is one of the loveliest places I've stayed for a while. The gods even granted us a beautiful sunrise in the morning.
So, while it's not the only place to stay in Somerset, it's one I would highly recommend.
You can book this postcard-pretty cottage in Cheddon Fitzpaine here.
About Sunrise Cottage
A small but beautiful front garden leads into a charming entranceway for leaving muddy boots and wet coats. Beyond there, the spacious lounge overlooks the open fire, with a writer's desk and family board games to help pass the time. (Ahem, along with a TV and assorted entertainment.)
You'll find a separate utilities room and long, well-equipped kitchen with dining room. We didn't get to explore too much of the back garden due to the weather but, like the rest of the place, it looked country-perfect and well looked after.
Up the stairs, you'll find the comfiest carpet I've ever walked on although I Know that's not the main thing we should be talking about.
Two double rooms await with gorgeous countryside decor and plenty of room for storage. The bathroom is cottage-cosy-cute and therefore compact but has a functioning bath and shower attachment.
There's a single parking space outside and you can find the full specs here.
What's really obvious is that the owners really care about both the property and their guests. There's a welcome box of goodies, everything is well maintained, and you'll receive plenty of useful information about the surrounding area and an overwhelming sense that they want you to have a good time.
Things to do near Cheddon Fitzpaine
You can uncover many of the things that Somerset is famous for within a short distance of Sunrise Cottage. In particular, we loved:
- Sheppy's House of Cider for its orchards, farm shop, restaurant cafe and playground.
- Hestercombe Estate for its sprawling gardens, stately home, educational resources and, shh, decadent biscuit cream cakes in the cafe
- The Quantock Hills - an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB)
- The Somerset food! Local haunts include Monkton Elm Garden Centre (yes, really) and the Silvers Pantry at Prockters Farm.
- Cosy English pubs include the Swan at Kingston, The Monkton Inn, The Plough Inn, Rose Inn and our favourite, the Merry Monk.
What food is Somerset famous for?
More than you might think. Take it away Somerset...
If the world could pick only one cheese, I think it would be cheddar. It's the quintessential, cartoon ready block of pale yellow cheese.
As the name suggests, it originates from Cheddar in Somerset. It is made from cow’s milk, and has a very mild, salty flavour. Rumour has it, it was invented by a group of monks who lived here in 1170 AD.
With all that history, it has now been granted Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning only cheeses produced in certain parts of England can use the name ‘Cheddar’.
If you’ve been in Somerset in the fall, you may have spotted a magical sight: apple juice being turned into cider. With apples from Somerset orchards, this cider is true to its roots.
It's famed across the UK and notches up a tangy, almost tart sweet zing on the lips. I'd always thought of it as a summer drink but sit in front of a roaring fire in Somerset and you may find that autumn works just as well after all.
Visit a cider farm and you'll find a range of different flavours: elderflower, rhubarb & ginger, pear & blackcurrant and even the warming cherry & cinnamon.
More Famous Things to do in Somerset
Hike Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, on the boundary between Somerset and Gloucestershire in England. It's a natural beauty spot and is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and as a National Nature Reserve.
And if you find it looks familiar? It's been used as a film location for both "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" and scenes from "Harry Potter."
Party at Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury Music Festival sells more than 175 000 tickets in a few nanoseconds, the moment tickets go on sale. But it takes place in an otherwise unassuming part of Somerset, called Pilron.
Glastonbury has been running since 1970 and features live music from a diverse range of artists from across all genres and decades. Headliners have included Adele, David Bowie, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and The Rolling Stones in recent years.
Visit The City of Bath Spa
Simply put, Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It simply is. It has stunning stone baths built by the Romans, a majestic Abbey and those curving, swerving lines of architecture at the Royal Circus and Crescent.
I love it so much I got married there.
The city itself is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and if I've made it sound stuffy, you should also know that you'll find plenty of restaurants, clubs and shops there. There are even real spas.
What about Bristol?
While popular opinion counts Bristol as part of Somerset, it is, apparently, now a city and a county in its own right. Yep, not even part of Avon. Weird, eh?
The pretty little village of Dunster may date back to pre-Roman times, with the catchy title of Durocassium, but it's most famous today as a medieval village.
You'll find it just within the grounds of the Exmoor National Park, complete with a castle, 12th century church, a working watermill, Heritage Railway and the Dunster Museum.
West Somerset Railway
Roam from Exmoor National Park through the Quantock Hills passing, through tiny villages and farms on historic steam locomotives.
Wookey Hole Caves
The Wookey Hole caves once functioned as a hideout for outlaws and members of the clergy fleeing from persecution during the Middle Ages. It became known as one of Britain’s most haunted caves and is subject to regular paranormal investigations.
To mere mortals, however, the Wookey Hole Caves are a series of limestone caves in Somerset, England. The caves have their own names: "Great Cave", "Devils Chimney" and "Wookey Hole," which means “dirty hole” in Saxon.
A large part of the caves are accessible to show natural rock formations.
While Taunton can't compare with Bath, you'll find all the expected High Street chains plus enough reasons to stop off for more. Taunton Independent Market takes place on the second Sunday every month on Castle Green. Vivary Park provides tennis courts, a playground for children, mini golf and high ropes. And finally, Taunton Castle houses the Museum of Somerset and the Somerset Military Museum.
More on Travel in England
- How to plan the perfect Cotswolds weekend itinerary
- The Old Stocks Inn Review: A Design Hotel in the Cotswolds
- Quite simply, the best places to visit in England
- A luxurious retreat and acres of things to do in the Forest of Dean
- Short on time? How to travel from London to Bath as a day trip
- The best things to do in Harrogate, the spa town of the North
- Exploring Symonds Yat Rock (Yes, It's a Real Place)
- The best things to do in Kingston upon Thames