As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Mendip Hills, Jackie King picks out a selection of characterful places to stay in this glorious Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Somerset, southwest England.
The Mendips has some of the prettiest and most varied countryside in the southwest, and with few towns of any real size, wherever you pick you're likely be be surrounded by little more than rolling green views and utter peace and quiet.
We've scoured the region for green and gorgeous places to stay; from mellow-stoned B&Bs in chocolate box villages and converted cottages on working cattle farms, to wild meadow glampsites and family-friendly camping, there's something to suit everyone and every budget in our collection.
All of the places are committed to the environment, too. There are barn eco-restorations, a self-sustainable farm, wood burners, reed bed systems, and discounts for those arriving on two feet. By staying at one of these places, you will be supporting owners who really are making a difference by striving to reduce their impact on the local landscape.
Burcott Mill Guest House, Mendip Hills
Burcott Mill Guest House is one of only two working watermills in Somerset; it’s Victorian cogs still churn away to produce organic wholemeal flour. Friendly owners, Louise and Steve French, have sensitively converted some of the mill buildings into delightful B&B rooms and a cosy self-catering bolthole for two. Visitors are free to wander around the mill museum. Country pubs, beautiful walks, and historic market towns are all on your doorstep. burcottmill.com
The Webbington Hotel & Country Club, Mendip Hills
The Webbington Hotel & Country Club is a half-timbered Edwardian manor, on the southern slopes of the Mendips, which has been developed into a leisure club, with 54 individually-designed bedrooms, glorious views from the roof terrace, and spa. Part of the Best Western group, the hotel is committed to promoting good environmental practice by managing waste, energy and electricity consumption, and by using local services as far as possible.
Tordown, Somerset, England
This Glastonbury B&B offers a peaceful, luxurious break in a Victorian house on the slopes of the magical Glastonbury Tor. It provides many forms of healing from Reiki to Hydrotherapy Spa treatments with an on-site mini Spa. To truly minimise the environmental impact, guests are encouraged to arrive by public transport: the nearest train station is Castle Cary and from here it’s only possible to reach Tordown by taxi. From Bristol Templemeads there is the 376 bus to Glastonbury Town Hall. Once in Glastonbury it is either a 5 minute taxi ride or a 20 minute uphill walk. Alternatively, there are coaches from Victoria Coach Station London to Glastonbury or to Bristol Templemeads from which you can take the 376 bus to Glastonbury.
Onsite the owners have taken a number of green measures to reduce the environmental impact of their tourism business, earning them Gold from the GTBS. Energy-saving light bulbs are used throughout and radiators have an independent thermostat so they can be turned down. The owners conserve water with the installation of low capacity dual flush toilet and water butts for harvesting for garden watering. Additionally, they compost garden waste and feed some leftover food to visiting badgers. tordown.com
Orchard House, Mendips, England
Orchard House, self-catering serviced apartments or bed and breakfast in the Chew Valley, perfect for cyclists or walkers wanting to explore the Mendips. Situated on routes 3 and 410 National Cycle routes, a stop off for Lands End to John O'Groats. Ann, Derek and Fay Hollomon offer guest accommodation in the Chew Valley. A good base for exploring Bristol, Bath, Wells and the Mendips with beautiful walking from the front door. For cyclists Chew Stoke is on a Land's End to John O'Groats route, and on National Cycle Routes 3 and 10. Accommodation is available on a bed and breakfast basis in the coach house annexe, which has been carefully modernised to provide comfortable rooms. There are also two serviced apartments for self catering holidays, surrounded by a pleasant south-facing English garden. The property dates back to George III when the Bilbie family used the site for their clock-making and bell-founding business. A home-from-home, where as much as possible is locally sourced as food from local growers and suppliers wherever possible - some comes from the kitchen garden on site. orchardhouse-chewstoke.co.uk
BEST WESTERN PLUS Swan Hotel, Wells, Somerset
Located in the shadow of Wells Cathedral, the Best Western Plus Swan Hotel, with over 600 years of history, offers modern rooms, a stunning wedding venue and self catering apartments in a traditional setting, perfect for visiting the Mendips. The Best Western Plus Swan Hotel is located in the heart of England’s smallest cathedral city and faces the magnificent West Front of Wells Cathedral in Somerset. Parts of the hotel date back to at least 1422. Over the years the hotel has been sympathetically refurbished and extended to offer modern amenities in a beautiful setting. The 48 bedrooms, standard, superior or deluxe, vary from modern contemporary designs to being furnished in antiques with four poster beds. Please note, the age and configuration of the building means that the hotel does not have a lift. However, two rooms are located on the ground floor and porterage is available. The hotel offers a range of dining options and a choice of different areas in which to enjoy your food, including a 2 AA Rosetted restaurant offeings the finest locally sourced ingredients, the Head Chef and kitchen brigade are proud to support Somerset suppliers and they strive to use produce sourced within a 25 mile radius of the hotel. A great venue for a walking weekend, murder mystery package or a wedding. swanhotelwells.co.uk
The Swan, Wedmore, Mendip Hills
The Swan, Wedmore is a bustling local pub with seven individually designed and supremely comfortable en-suite guest bedrooms and an outstanding kitchen led by Tom Blake from River Cottage who cooks using local ingredients: simple, unfussy, fresh. This 16th-century pub seems to have it all: behind a graceful façade you’ll find an award-winning restaurant, a lively pub with plenty of olde-worlde charm, and sumptuous bedrooms upstairs. Dine on delicious, seasonal fare – such as roasted belly of Gloucester Old Spot or aged Chew Valley steak – conjured up by former River Cottage chef, Tom Blake, and retreat to your gorgeously elegant bedroom: claw-footed tubs, crisp linen, walls painted in stone or grey, splashes of colour and deep pile bathrobes. And if getting away from it all is what you're after, you'd be hard pressed to find a better village to do it – historic Wedmore has been a market town since the 1500s and is full of lovely architecture and quiet, quintessential Englishness. theswanwedmore.com
Gorge View Cottage, Mendip Hills, Somerset, England
An traditional cottage recently fully renovated to exacting environmental standards. Situated on a small lane, conveniently located in Cheddar village, with panoramic views to Cheddar Gorge, it is perfectly placed to explore the Mendip Hills area. Gorge View Cottage is an old gardener's cottage recently fully renovated to exacting environmental standards, with access to the large permaculture garden. This four-star graded (Visit Britain) and Gold award (Green Tourism) accommodation is ideal for one or two people and it is available for week or weekend self-catering hire throughout the year. Situated on a small lane, conveniently located in Cheddar village, the cottage has uninterrupted and panoramic views to the gorge. It is the perfect holiday location with easy access to stunning walks around the Mendips and the gorge itself; with the caves, shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes all just a few minutes' walk away. Slightly further afield are attractions such as the beautiful city of Wells, more caves at Wookey Hole, the Somerset coast at Brean Down or Weston-Super-Mare, and of course Glastonbury with the Tor, more shops and the ancient Abbey. For anyone needing a gentle break from the pressures of life, Gorge View Cottage has it all. The cottage is available for flexible rental from 2 days to 2 weeks, and starting days are not fixed. For all those arriving without a car we offer a 10% discount. gorgeviewcottage.co.uk
Webbington Farm Holiday Cottages, Mendip Hills
A conversion of stone courtyard barns into four fantastic oak beamed cottages with hot tub and river frontage for private fishing on a beef farm that can accommodate from 1 to 30 guests, perfectly child friendly. Deep in cider-making country are these three converted oak-beamed barns, set around a courtyard on a working cattle farm. Sleeping between 4-6 people, each barn has beautiful well-equipped kitchens, pretty quilts on comfy beds, and leather sofas. There is also a rustic party barn for larger groups made up of a bar, seating for 30, a wood burner, sound system and room to party the night away. Caterers available on request. (Woohoo! What are you waiting for?). The owners are committed to the environment and have planted 10,000 trees on the farm, replanted an apple orchard and have installed a reed bed. Keen anglers will appreciate a spot of private fishing (the farm has its own river frontage on the River Axe) and kids will love getting to know the animals on site.
Fernhill Farm, Mendip Hills
Fernhill Farm, a herd of cowsheds on a 160-acre working farm in the Mendips, converted into an alternative, relaxed accommodation for up to 55 people in eco-camping barns and Ramshackle Arcs. Super green & earnest, groups from 10-200 catered for.
Fernhill Farm- if you’re looking for somewhere a little different to host your conference, workshop or family gathering, then Fernhill Farm might be just the place. The cowsheds on this 160-acre working farm in the Mendips have been converted into an alternative, relaxed venue, with accommodation for up to 55 people in the adjacent eco-camping barns (underfloor heating throughout!) , apartments and Ramshackle Arcs. Andrew and Jen are committed to developing the farm into a self-sustaining unit, having installed a self-computerised log boiler, water harvesting, and wetland eco-treatment system which purifies all dirty water without the use of chemicals, which in turn has created new habitats for wildlife species. Super green & earnest, group bookings, weddings, stag and hen weekends, birthday parties. Bookings taken from groups of 10 people up to 200! fernhill-farm.co.uk
Old Barn, Mendip Hills
The Old Barn is a beautiful and historic holiday cottage located in Somerset, England, offering cosy self-catered holiday accommodation for up to five people all year round within easy reach of the Mendip and Quantock Hills, Wells, Bath and Bristol.
From brew house to hay barn to self-catering pad for two, the Old Barn has had a long and fascinating history. The current owners (who have lived next door since the 70s) fell in love with the place, bought it, and have spent the last ten years converting the listed building: leaky roofs and piles of rubble have been consigned to the history books; now you’ll find delightful open-plan living, with oak floors and underfloor heating, sleeping up to five. Croscombe, a sleepy Mendip village, is well placed for walking and cycling in the surrounding hills. oldbarncroscombe.co.uk
Folly Farm, Mendip Hills
Folly Farm Centre is at the heart of Folly Farm nature reserve, a stunning 250-acre reserve close to both Bath and Bristol, owned and managed by Avon Wildlife Trust with comfortable en-suite group accommodation available for up to 45 people.
Folly Farm is managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust, and is an award-winning, 250-acre nature reserve. It makes the perfect venue for a magical wedding, an inspiring conference, a fun-filled team-building day or relaxed group accommodation. The accommodation sleeps up to 45 in 10 bedrooms in an 18th century farmhouse and 10 self-contained studios, housed in converted 18th-century stone buildings and former cow sheds. The accommodation is ideal for holiday, business and wedding guests. In terms of catering, you can choose to self-cater in the farmhouse’s professional kitchen, or the Folly Farm team are happy to arrange seasonal, delicious catering for you. You have access to 250 acres of fantastic walking routes, including a trail through the ancient woodland that is suitable for wheelchairs and prams. Avon Wildlife Trust have taken special care of the site, which is located on a medieval deer park, to protect the wildlife and landscape during the construction: buildings were restored using traditional methods, all buildings are heated with biomass boilers, and reed bed systems have been installed. follyfarm.org
Woodpecker Lodge, Somerset, England
A tranquil, 5-star luxury eco lodge in the heart of the picturesque Somerset countryside, perfect for exploring the surrounding hillsides. Relax on the shaded balcony and enjoy a private sauna. millmeadow.co.uk
Warren Farm, Feather Down Farm, Somerset, England
Sitting atop the Mendips in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Warren Farm offers up some truly stunning views of Cheddar Gorge. As well as numerous walking, biking and fishing opportunities, there's a great trail leading down into Cheddar. Warren Farm sits in the heart of the Mendips, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty whose skies are very big and very open. Its 1,000 acres stretch along Cheddar Gorge, making it the perfect location for outdoorsy types. Your tent is literally on top of the highest inland cliffs on our island, meaning the views around you are sweeping and stunning, and the walks vigorous and varied. We farm a flock of over a thousand ewes that lamb in May, and over 80 suckler cows, which calve in April and May. featherdown.co.uk
Acacia Farm Camping and Touring, Mendip Hills
The Robinson family runs this five-acre campsite and caravan park with cabins, which overlooks the gorgeous Mendip countryside, surrounded on all sides by rolling countryside; bring the dog. Guests arriving on 2 wheels or feet get a discount.
A warm welcome from the Robinson family awaits you at this five-acre campsite and caravan park, which overlooks the gorgeous Mendip countryside. There are large grassy pitches for campers, electric hook ups for caravaners, and a log cabin with log burner if glamping’s more your thing. You’re surrounded on all sides by rolling countryside; bring the dog. Guests arriving on two wheels or two feet get a discounted tariff and bikes are free to borrow.
Brook Lodge Farm, Mendip Hills, Bristol
Hidden in the historic hamlet of Cowslip Green, Brook Lodge is a peaceful, sheltered camping & caravan site with an environmental conscience. Perfectly placed for exploring Bath, Wells, Glastonbury & the Mendip and walking, birdwatching & cycling.
Hidden in the historic hamlet of Cowslip Green, Brook Lodge is a peaceful, sheltered camping and caravan site with a strong environmental conscience. Bordered by a stream on one side, it is surrounded by wild flowers and wildlife and a labyrinth of country lanes making it a haven for bird watchers, cyclists and walkers. Their impressive eco efforts include solar-heated hot water for the showers, a strict recycling policy, and an annual tree-planting programme - this lead to them being awarded Gold by the Green Business Scheme Award. brooklodgefarm.com
Bucklegrove Caravan and Camping Park, Mendip Hills
Bucklegrove Caravan and Camping Park started as a tearooms in the 1940s, but these days, tables and chairs have made way for beautifully-manicured camping pitches with mature trees and shrubs, but you can still grab drinks and snacks. Bucklegrove Caravan and Camping Park started out life as a tearooms in the 1940s. These days, tables and chairs have made way for beautifully-manicured camping pitches with mature trees and shrubs, but you can still grab drinks and snacks from the family-friendly bar onsite. If your idea of camping is a little less orderly, there’s a summer camping meadow – no pitches, no electric hook ups, just turn up and grab a spot – plenty of space and stunning views across the Cheddar valley. bucklegrove.co.uk
Cheddar Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Somerset, UK
Hidden deep in walking country, this friendly 90-pitch campsite makes a great launch pad for a variety of attractions in the Mendips - Cheddar, Wells and Glastonbury are all close.
Hidden deep in walking country, this friendly 90-pitch campsite makes a great launch pad for a variety of attractions in the Mendips - Cheddar, Wells and Glastonbury are all close, and you’ve got mile upon mile of walking and cycling routes on your doorstep. Great facilities, easygoing smiley staff and good pubs within walking distance, and the onsite shop sells all sorts, including fresh bread and warm croissants every morning. There’s also a great farm shop a five-minute stroll, selling everything you could possibly want for your sizzling summer barbeque. campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
For more information on characterful places to stay, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to the Mendip Hills.