Around Watchet – Much More To Offer Than Just A Safe Harbour
The delightful small town of Watchet sits on the coast just six or seven miles from The Carew Arms – depending on the route you take. We say that, because there are a couple of interesting diversions along the way.
Via Staple Plain
Take the main A358 towards Williton and Watchet, but turn through Bicknoller and Weacombe until you come to Staple Plain. Here you’ll find an easy, dog-friendly walk that takes about an hour. You’ll climb gently up Beacon Hill from where you get fabulous views across the hills, moorland and Bristol Channel. Look to your left and you’ll see Watchet not far along the coast.
From Staple Plain you can go through West Quantoxhead and Doniford into Watchet, or detour into Williton for a couple of interesting side-trips.
Orchard Mill is tucked on the edge of the village. Here you’ll find the famous Bakelite Museum. Bakelite was the fore-runner of plastic, and you’ll be amazed what it was used for. This is possibly the world’s largest collection, and well worth a visit.
If stately homes are your thing, then Orchard Wyndham, a little further along the road, is a hidden gem. Advance booking is essential as each tour is personally guided.
It’s time to head towards Watchet again, but we won’t get there just yet. At Washford Cross, where the A358 meets the main Minehead to Bridgewater road, you’ll find Tropiquaria. Once a BBC transmitting station, this unusual 1930s building is now home to a fascinating small zoo and aquarium.
Watchet – An Inspired Idea
So finally to Watchet itself, a safe harbour for fishermen for centuries, and now a popular marina too. You can take sea fishing trips from here if you like (you do need to book beforehand).
Walking down the Esplanade, alongside boats and yachts of all shapes and sizes, you’ll come across an impressive bronze statue of an old sailor clutching an albatross. This is “The Ancient Mariner,” here because Samuel Taylor Coleridge was inspired to write the famous poem after walking to Watchet from his home at nearby Nether Stowey.
A little further along, culture continues in the shape of “Contains Art”. Three former shipping containers have been converted into a small gallery and four studios. You can often see artists working and there are events throughout the year.
So Much To See…
For a small town, Watchet has a surprising amount to offer. Not far from “Contains Art” is the local boat museum, packed with artifacts relating to vessels used along this coast.
Then there’s Watchet Station on the historic West Somerset Railway. You can catch a train from here to Crowcombe Heathfield, just a mile or so from our pub (timetable permitting).
In the centre of town is Watchet Museum, a treasure trove of local history (and souvenirs to remind you of your trip). Of course there are all manner of tempting shops, plus numerous places to rest your legs and have a cup of tea – or something stronger.
If you didn’t come in from the east, you might want to leave that way and pop into Doniford Farm Park. You’ll be greeted by pigs, pygmy goats, sheep, alpacas, ponies, donkeys, etc. There’s also a farm shop, well stocked with local produce.
Whatever the Weather
Watchet and the surrounding area really does have something for everyone, indoors and out. The only thing you might have trouble with is fitting it all in the same day!
Still, it’s just down the road from the Carew Arms, you can always go again.