Green Travel Guide to Somerset & Exmoor
A land of castles and clifftops, of charming hamlets and wild moors, of clean air and burbling brooks, of starling murmurations and stags roaring: it’s not hard to see what draws people to Somerset and Exmoor. It’s here where the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth roamed, where Blackmore set the forbidden trysts of Lorna Doone and John Ridd, where King Arthur lies resting. Probably. It’s where farms produce fabulously fresh food – and restaurants and pubs dish it up. In short, this is the English countryside par excellence – and the perfect destination for a great escape, whether it’s for a day ambling one of the well-marked footpaths or a week exploring the byways and villages.
About this Guide
This online guide to Great Escapes in Somerset and Exmoor is part of a body of work that has been jointly commissioned from Greentraveller by West Somerset Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council as part of the COOL tourism project to grow and promote sustainable rural tourism.
The Great Escapes supplement (right), which appears in January 2015's edition of Countryfile magazine, was written and researched by Paul Bloomfield and designed by Tina Smith. The text in this Greentraveller's Guide to Somerset & Exmoor draws upon the work in the supplement with additional writing by Ellie Spens and Florence Fortnam.
The photographs in this online guide have been provided by Exmoor National Park Authority and Somerset Tourism and include photos by the following: Colin Hawkins, Lynne Newton, JMW Photography, Paul Miles, Ian Brodie, Peter Booton, Colin Rowe, Diana Jarivs and Paul Miles.
What our writers discovered in Somerset & Exmoor
Stay, Eat, See & Do
Our pick of places across Somerset and Exmoor
Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities
Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map
Getting to Somerset and Exmoor
Reaching the delights of Somerset and Exmoor by public transport is easy. First Great Western trains reach Taunton and other Somerset stations, or Tiverton Parkway for southern Exmoor, in around two hours from London. Cross Country trains from the Midlands, northern England and Scotland are also convenient – regular Birmingham–Taunton services take two hours – and trains from Cornwall and Devon also access the area. National Express coaches offer convenient connections from across the country, with great-value fares. Once you’re in the region, heritage rail services and the scenic 300 Coastal Link bus service through Exmoor provide enjoyable ways of exploring.
Travelling around Somerset and Exmoor by public transport
Getting around Exmoor National Park: Much of the national park is serviced by a comprehensive bus network. You don't even have to make it to a bus stop to catch a ride – you can flag down a bus wherever you are. Dogs are welcome onboard for a small additional charge. The 'on demand' bus service – Moor Rover – operates throughout the year, from 8am-8pm, seven days a week (but weekends must be booked in advance). Dogs and bikes can be carried for an additional charge, and using the service as a group can be particularly cost effective. There's also the Exmoor Coastal Link 300 - the ultimate scenic route, which runs between Ilfracombe and Minehead. Travel in style with views of the sea on one side, and the sight of magnificent moorland on the other. In the summer, passengers can enjoy the salty breeze in an open-top bus, making for an especially memorable experience. Of course, the most sustainable option is the fuel-less one, and there hundreds of miles of walking, cycling and riding routes throughout the region. You can find lots more travel information for Exmoor National Park at Explore Moor.
Getting around the Mendip Hills AONB: The regular bus service 126 connects Weston-super-Mare, on the Mendips' westerly point, with Wells in the south-east of the AONB, calling at major towns and villages en route, including Sandford, Axbridge and Cheddar. There are also regular bus services from Bristol to Yatton on the northern edge of the Mendips. There are various walking and cycling route throughout the area making it a relatively easy place to get around under your own steam.