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The county of Somerset covers over 1,350 square miles with a population of 450,000. Somerset contains no cities but has some wonderful market towns, the administrative centre of Taunton and the other major towns of Yeovil, Wells, Bridgewater and Glastonbury - possibly the location of Avalon in the King Arthur legends (it is no longer surrounded by water but would have been in Arthur's time. Somerset is famous for Cheddar Cheese (and Cheddar Gorge), its cider and Somerset cricket club which accommodated Ian Botham throughout most of his career.
The Exmoor National Park covers 265 square miles and overlaps the neighbouring county of Devon. Its cliffs are the highest in England and to the south the 2 main rivers of the Barle and the Exe wind through wooded valleys. To the west of Somerset are the Quantocks, a bleak ridge of red sandstone hills which run down to the sea at Quantoxhead. Other natural features of the county include the rivers Avon and Parret, the Bristol Channel and the limestone Mendip Hills range which is about 25 miles long and 5 miles wide. The hills reach a maximum height of about 1200 feet and are cut through by numerous gorges like Cheddar where the caves were inhabited in prehistoric times. Remains of lead mines can be seen throughout the area. Cheddar Gorge is the original home of Cheddar cheese. The name Somerset comes from ‘Dwellers from Somerton’ in Old English - meaning a farm occupied during summer but not in winter.

Somerset's main places of pilgrimage are the mystical and magical Glastonbury - the new age capital of Britain with the medieval tower of the church of St Michael perched high upon its impressive Tor and Glastonbury Abbey - and Wells with its magnificent cathedral which is one of the best surviving examples of a full medieval cathedral complex.

Other places to visit in Somerset include: Allerford Banwell Beckington Bridgwater Bruton Burnham-on-Sea Chard Cheddar Crewkerne Curry Rivel Dulverton Evercreech Flaxpool Frome Glastonbury Hatch Beauchamp Highbridge Ilminster Langport Martock Midsomer Norton Minehead Nether Stowey Priddy Shepton Mallet Somerton South Petherton Stratton-on-the-Fosse Street Taunton Templecombe Wedmore Wellington Wells Wheddon Cross Williton Wincanton Winsford Wookey Hole Yeovil

Cheddar Gorge - the Mendips most dramatic scenery - and its showcaves. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is also open to visitors
Crowcombe, a pretty villages which still has houses built of stone and cob (a mud & straw mixture)
the attractive Exmoor villages of Dulverton and Dunster with its restored 13th century castle
Exford, a good base for Exmoor National Park
King John's Hunting Lodge at Axbridge
the water-operated cliff railway between Lynton and Lydmouth (2 cars linked by a cable descend or ascend the slope between the villages depending upon how much water is in their tanks)
Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey where Samuel Coleridge wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Minehead, Somerset's largest seaside resort - has traditional May Day ceremonies with a hobby horse performing a fertility dance through the streets
Montacute House,< an impressive Elizabethan mansion 4 miles west of Yeovil
Porlock, an attractive village of thatched cottages
Somerset County Museum in Taunton
West Somerset Railway, Britain's longest privately run steam railway
Wookey Hole caves and attractions

 

 

 

 

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