If you’re a lover of the great outdoors you’ll find walking in West Somerset an absolute delight, and whether you prefer a gentle stroll, a strenuous hike, or a rocky scramble, we’ve got every kind of scenery you could wish for.
This is the first in a series of articles that will help you explore our area and discover the hidden gems that make it famous. Before we go into detail though, let’s take a quick glance around our region and hint at a few of the delights you’ll find here.
It’s Beautiful – And That’s Official
Crowcombe nestles in the Quantock Hills, which have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In fact, they were the UK’s first. From near Taunton in the south, to East and West Quantoxhead on the Bristol Channel’s famous Jurassic coast, they offer everything from rolling hills and open meadows to broad leaf woodland and twisting lanes flanked by ancient hedgerows.
There are many well-marked circular paths for walkers, and parking at start/finish points is plentiful. Distances vary from short rambles to all-day hikes, and many are also suitable for mountain biking or horse riding (we’ll let you know which as we delve into them further).
To the west of the Quantocks lies Exmoor National Park that, despite its comparatively small size, contains remarkable diversity. You can walk down to the sea at places like Porlock Weir and Lynmouth, yet it rises to over 1,700 feet at its high point. The countryside changes frequently, with quiet valleys and babbling brooks giving way to the wide-open majesty of the high moor. It’s steeped in history, myth and legend – and we’ll reveal its secrets as we visit each of the fascinating places along the way.
Wildlife and High Life
Of course, there’s much more to discover here than just the fabulous country walks. With so much unspoiled land there are homes for foxes and badgers, hawks and buzzards. There are the famous Exmoor ponies, and unique herds of wild goats. You might even glimpse the fabled Exmoor Beast (though it’s more likely you’ll find sheep ambling across the road – they don’t see a lot of traffic).
Then there are the historic homes of gentry past and present. The architectural gems and meticulously planned gardens. From court to castle, and monastery to abbey, you’ll find plenty to occupy the mind as well as the body.
To whet your appetite further, we must mention the whole host of award-winning local food and drink producers. Fancy some traditional cheeses and preserves? Perhaps a cool cider or sparkling wine to go with them? We’ll pop into each artisan as we pass by.
And if your feet need a rest after all that exertion, the trains of the West Somerset Heritage Railway (the longest of its kind in the UK) can whisk you along your way, and back in time.
All You Want, Easy to Reach
No other region gives you such tremendous variety in so compact an area. Within a short distance you can take a lazy wander along a golden sandy beach or explore a forest. You can watch birds of prey hunting across the moor, or scale tall cliffs and gaze out to sea. It’s not just the great outdoors, we think it’s the greatest outdoors you’ll find anywhere.
We look forward to seeing you.