Summer in Somerset: How to spend it well when the sun is shining
Discover our local guide to this quintessentially English county
Dotted with historic market towns, pretty beaches and a patchwork of rolling countryside, Somerset is bursting with great places to explore when the sun is shining. To inspire you to visit the county this summer, we’ve rounded up the best things to do in the area. From cantering across the countryside on iconic Exmoor ponies to sampling fresh produce and locally brewed cider, read our guide and get ready for an unforgettable summer in Somerset.
Sample gourmet cuisine and local cider
Home to some of the finest food and drink producers in the South West, it’s no surprise that sampling Somerset’s incredible gourmet cuisine is at the top of our list of things to do. With plenty of great cafés, pubs and restaurants scattered across the county, you’ll be spoilt for choice with venues to try. From the boutique bakeries lining Bruton’s trendy high street to Minehead’s seaside restaurants and the myriad of bistros and café bars in picturesque Wells, Somerset is a haven for holidaying foodies.
Take a brewery tour with Thatchers at Myrtle Farm and wander through the orchards and mill before sampling the finest Somerset ciders, or head to a farmer’s market to pick up hearty wedges of cheddar cheese and homemade bread for a picnic lunch. To satisfy your sweet tooth, wander the cobbled Georgian streets of Bath in search of a prestigious Sally Lunn’s bun and enjoy it al fresco in one of the city’s sun soaked parks.
Take a tour of the striking Dunster Castle
A former motte and bailey castle that’s now a spectacular National Trust treasure, Dunster Castle is a lovely setting for a family day out. Situated in pretty North Somerset, the grand country home enjoys subtropical gardens, a working watermill and dramatic views over the Quantock Hills. Take a tour around the magnificent castle or bring the dog along and stretch your legs in The River Garden before taking a wander around the ancient keep.
On selected dates throughout the summer, learn how to take the perfect photo with a photography workshop in the castle grounds, enjoy outdoor theatre performances under the stars or let the children become Victorian explorers for the day with Exmoor Zoo. Afterwards, dine al fresco with a light lunch from The Camellia House and savour gorgeous views stretching all the way along the coast on clear days. Before heading home, pop into the gift shop to pick up a bottle or two of locally brewed cider to sample back at Nightjar and Willow’s Rest, just half an hour away in nearby Dulverton.
Experience Exmoor on horseback
A trip to Somerset wouldn’t be complete without an encounter with Exmoor’s iconic rare breed ponies. To relish incredible views over the windswept moors from an all-new vantage point, head to The Exmoor Pony Centre and get tacked up for a day trek.
A fantastic moorland excursion may see you splash along the coveted Tarr Steps, canter across vast stretches of rolling hills and picturesque countryside, or catch a glimpse of Somerset’s eye-catching purple heather that hugs the landscape. An exciting day out for beginners and more experienced riders, setting off towards Dunkery Beacon will reward you with spectacular elevated views from the highest point on Exmoor, while steep sided valleys like the Punch Bowl promise varied terrain, best enjoyed on horseback.
Visit the north and south coast beaches
While the county is better known for its sprawling countryside than its sweeping sands, Somerset is home to some beautiful beaches on both the north and south coast. One of the longest in Europe, the seven mile expanse at Brean Beach is perfect for children and dogs to let off some steam on a fine summer’s day. Play in the gently ebbing shallows, try your hand at sea fishing with the locals or take a stroll along the coast path with your four-legged friend in tow.
Another of Somerset’s most interesting beaches, Kilve Beach is known locally as the Jurassic Coast on the Bristol Channel, owing to its stretch of rocky coastline that makes it a bountiful fossil hunting destination. Children will love exploring the rock pools at low tide, before retreating to the large grassy area behind the beach to enjoy a family picnic.
Cool off with a wild swim in the county’s scenic lakes
If you’re looking to escape the heat of the summer sun, Somerset’s network of tranquil scenic lakes provides the perfect antidote. A popular swimming site and with a variety of watersports activities both on and off the water, Wimbleball Lake Country Park is guaranteed fun. Water babies will relish taking to the lake on kayaks or paddle boards, while those on dry land explore the surrounding woodland walks, tackle the high ropes course or sunbathe on the lawn.
With a dramatic river gorge, gently sliding rapids and a series of plunge pools, Watersmeet is another great location for cooling off with a wild swim, this time sitting on the Devon and Somerset border. Just south of Lynmouth, the lovely National Trust site also features an ancient woodland and a charming tea shop and garden, where visitors can enjoy a taste of the South West or pick up local Exmoor jams and locally crafted pottery.
Enjoy an unforgettable summer escape on the edge of Exmoor
With a beautiful elevated deck for hazy summer evenings, Nightjar is the perfect refuge to call home after a day spent exploring Somerset. Next door is the charming Willow’s Rest, which makes a fantastic base for couples or a small family. Available to rent separately or together, Willow’s Rest and Nightjar are ideal for sociable country retreats and have availability this summer. What’s more, there’s private stable accommodation on site for those looking to bring their horses. Click here to take a closer look or call 01208 895570 to book.