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Local Interest

The Quantock Hills

The Quantock Hills, immediately behind Pardlestone Farm, are the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), designated as such in 1957. Comprising thousands of acres of unspoiled wilderness, the hills are flanked by deep, wooded coombes which open on to green and grassy glades, leading up to the heather-clad heathland above. These areas represent 10 per cent of the world’s rarest maritime heathlands and for this reason, are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Quantock valleys are typically smothered with foxgloves, rhododendrons and ferns which reach down to the streams below, all canopied by the majestic oaks and beeches for which the area is renowned. The vegetation supports abundant wildlife from the deer which seek refuge in the undergrowth to the Quantock ponies which graze the heathland, while rare bird-life and plentiful small mammals can be spotted by those with a keen eye. Up on the hills, wide open views stretch out before you and on a clear day, you can see across the sea to South Wales’ Gower Peninsula, to Exmoor to the west, the Mendips to the east and the Blackdown Hills to the south. Off the beaten track, yet more accessible from the south east and the Midlands than either Devon or Cornwall, the Quantocks are perhaps the least well-known and most unspoilt wilderness of southern England. http://www.quantockhills.com/

Coleridge Cottage and The Coleridge Way

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of Britain’s best-loved poets, lived in Nether Stowey (just a 10-minute drive from Pardlestone Farm or under two hours if walking across the Quantock Hills) between January 1797 and the autumn of 1798. William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy also moved into the area (living at Alfoxton House, less than a mile’s walk from Pardlestone Farm) simply to have the benefit of Coleridge’s company. In this brief period, the poets formed a deep regard for each other’s abilities and spent much of their time together, wandering around the hills that face north towards the Bristol Channel. They are known to have regularly walked along our very own lane – Pardlestone Lane – and down to Kilve Beach. In this area, the two poets collaborated in writing ‘Lyrical Ballads, with a few other poems’, generally considered to have marked the beginning of the Romantic Movement, which changed the course of English literature. For Coleridge in particular, the area afforded the inspiration for his most remarkable work, including ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’, ‘Christabel’ and ‘The Nightingale’, offering little dispute that this was his finest period of poetic output. Coleridge’s poem, ‘Frost at Midnight’ beautifully describes the interior of his cottage in Nether Stowey on a cold winter’s night. You can visit the cottage today, and the room in which Coleridge wrote this poem, through the National Trust. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage

You can walk the Coleridge Way, which comprises 51 miles of unspoilt scenery from Nether Stowey in the east to Lynmouth in the west, crossing the Quantocks and Exmoor, and passing within a few hundred yards of Pardlestone Farm where you can stop for B&B or use our self-catering cottage. The Coleridge Way also connects to the South West Coast Path and the Two Moors Way.  http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/coleridge-way/coleridge-way-home-page

Kilve Beach

Kilve Beach (dogs allowed) is just over a mile from Pardlestone Farm and an easy walk along quiet country lanes. The stratified Jurassic cliffs which frame the beach make for such a spectacular landscape that the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and considered to be of international geological importance. Above the cliffs is an expansive, grassy area, perfect for picnics, or the tea gardens at the chantry – just before the beach – will lay on food instead. Observant visitors to the beach may be lucky enough to discover an ammonite in the fossil-beds, where some of the oldest examples ever recorded in Britain have been uncovered. Rock pools are a particular favourite with children and the path above the beach links to the charming medieval village of East Quantoxhead. Worth the walk from Kilve Beach and featuring a manor house, thatched cottages, medieval tithe barn, duck pond and mill house, the village has not changed hands since the Norman Conquests of the 11th century. This photo of Kilve beach was taken by Rich Wiltshire http://rgw-photography.co.uk

Dunster Castle

Less than half an hour’s drive from Pardlestone Farm, Dunster Castle is dramatically sighted on a wooded hill, where its medieval gatehouse and ruined tower give a reminder of its turbulent history. Extensively updated in the 1680s and 1760s, it now serves as a lavish family home, includes extensive subtropical gardens and a working watermill, and is open to the public through the National Trust. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle

Dunster village

Dunster is one of the best preserved medieval villages in the UK and features an ancient castle, priory, dovecote, yarn market, packhorse bridge and a mill. The village has changed little since the decline of the woollen industry in the eighteenth century although now features independent boutiques for original clothing and gifts, sunny tea-gardens, acclaimed restaurants and traditional inns for a perfect day out. For a couple of days in the winter, it turns its back on the present day and lights the streets with candles. Dunster by Candlelight is a magical event, featuring street entertainment and revelry, held on the first Friday and Saturday in December every year. Dunster is less than half an hour’s drive from Pardlestone Farm. http://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/explore-somerset/dunster-p413583  http://www.dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk/

West Somerset Steam Railway

West Somerset Railway is the longest heritage railway in Britain, running from Bishop’s Lydeard in the south to Minehead in the north of the county. Running along the edge of the Quantock Hills (the steam train’s whistle can just be heard from the gardens of Pardlestone Farm) and along the coast, you can stop and explore from stations along the way including at Crowcombe, Williton, Watchet, Blue Anchor and Dunster. Williton Station is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm. http://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/

Watchet

Watchet is an ancient harbour town less than 20 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm. Comprising an old port, active marina and quaint houses and shops, it is particularly famous for the inspiration it provided to Samuel Taylor Coleridge for his epic poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Today, a statue depicting the Ancient Mariner (by Alan B Herriot of Penicuik, Scotland) stands on Watchet Harbour as a tribute to Coleridge.

There’s plenty to do in the small town of Watchet, including rock-pooling on West Beach, crabbing from the harbour wall, visiting the Market House Museum and the Watchet Boat Museum, or taking a sea fishing trip. Pebbles Tavern, close to the harbour, is famous for its range of ciders and its sea shanty evenings, and was designated the CAMRA Somerset Branch Cider Pub of the Year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. http://www.visit-watchet.co.uk/index.htm  http://lovewatchet.co.uk/

Tropiquaria

Just outside Watchet and only 15 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm is Tropiquaria, a must for those with an interest in exotic animals. Housing a range of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, spiders, rodents, fish and birds, there are also indoor and outdoor play facilities and a café, making Tropiquaria perfect for a family day out.  http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/index.html

Bakelite Museum

The Bakelite Museum in Williton is just a stone’s throw from Pardlestone Farm and offers vintage enthusiasts a nostalgic feast of objects made in the world’s first plastic. The museum began life in London before moving to the westcountry, where it now offers a unique collection of ordinary and extraordinary objects made of Bakelite and other early plastics – many brightly coloured – which were used in homes and workplaces across the country during the Bakelite era. Providing a humorous look through a keyhole into the past, included amongst its collection is a Bakelite car, a caravan in the shape of an egg and experimental plastic bicycles. There are telephones and gramophones, ovens and irons, cruets and calculators, televisions, toys and tie-presses, vintage vehicles and even machines from the first and last Bakelite factory in Britain. The exhibits are displayed with style and humour in an atmospheric 18th century watermill. Those who favour the travel of a bygone era can arrive by steam train at Williton Station, a 20 minute walk from the museum. The museum shop includes a variety of small antiques and vintage items.  http://www.bakelitemuseum.net/

Wimbleball Lake

Around half an hour’s drive from Pardlestone Farm is Wimbleball Lake, the perfect setting for a family adventure. Here, you can explore the nature trails by bike or on foot, kayak or paddleboard on the lake, spot wildlife from a canoe, play a game of archery or relax and enjoy a spot of fishing. https://www.southwestlakes.co.uk/location/wimbleball-lake/#opening-times

Blue Anchor Beach

Blue Anchor Bay is around 25 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm, and offers a long, sandy and quiet beach. Perfect for sea anglers and walkers (dogs allowed), the bay is surrounded by alabaster rocks and cliffs, of significant geological interest. The West Somerset Steam Railway has a stop at Blue Anchor.

Hestercombe Gardens

Hestercombe is located at the southern tip of the Quantock Hills, around 35 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm. The gardens are a unique combination of three centuries of garden design: Coplestone Warre Bampfylde’s Georgian landscape garden, the Victorian terrace and shrubbery and the stunning Edwardian garden, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. The latter is said to be one of the best Jekyll-Lutyens gardens regularly open to the public. With award-winning (and dog-friendly) facilities including its café and restaurant, a well-stocked plant centre and shop, and a picnic area with under-sevens’ playground and regular children’s events, Hestercombe is a perfect venue for a day out. https://www.hestercombe.com/

Fyne Court

Fyne Court can be found less than half an hour from Pardlestone Farm in the heart of the Quantock Hills. A hidden gem comprising a wild and tranquil garden which is accessible free of charge, it makes the perfect venue for a picnic or just to incorporate within a longer walk on the hills. The house to which these gardens belonged was destroyed by fire in 1894, although a few rooms still remain. Its most famous resident was the poet Andrew Crosse, a contemporary of Wordsworth and Coleridge, whom he is reported to have entertained at his home. Sadly much of his own work was destroyed in the fire. Throughout spring to autumn, the National Trust open their tea rooms at Fyne Court. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fyne-court

Bridgwater Carnival

For two weeks after Guy Fawkes night, the westcountry comes alive as night-time carnival parades light up Somerset towns. In what is arguably the region’s best-kept secret, spectacular floats (known as ‘carts’ in the westcountry) adorned with up to 30,000 lightbulbs, and some at more than 100 feet long, carry their cargo of wild dancers and their loud music. Some floats cost in excess of £40,000 to create and all are put together by volunteers working throughout the year.

The carnival processions have their origins in the gunpowder plot of 1605 and Bridgwater Carnival is thought to be one of the UK’s oldest. That historic date, 5 November, was especially celebrated in protestant Bridgwater, where a local Jesuit priest was part of Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up parliament. Across the westcountry, bonfires and the burning of tar barrels and Guy Fawkes effigies gave way to the fireworks, theatre and processions of today.

Bridgwater (3 November, 2018) hosts the first and largest of the carnivals, providing a spectacular display of free entertainment to visitors and townspeople alike. It takes over two hours for the procession to pass any one viewing point.

After Bridgwater, the procession tours seven towns including North Petherton (10 November), Wells (16 November) and Glastonbury, the last in the circuit, on 17 November 2018.

With these three venues each within 30 to 60 minutes of Pardlestone Farm, the carnivals – with their grand firework displays and street entertainment such as jugglers, stilt walkers, street theatre and marching bands – can make a November visit to the westcountry a spectacular event.  https://www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk/

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path begins on our doorstep at nearby Minehead (30 minutes by road) and Pardlestone Farm provides the perfect location for starting or ending your journey. The longest National Trail in the UK, the path stretches 630 miles around the south west peninsula, providing inspirational heritage, wildlife, geology and endless coastal scenery along the way. Why not begin the journey by walking the Coleridge Way – a not-to-be-missed route which inspired the work of Britain’s great poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge – and linking this walk to the South West Coast Path.  https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/

Exmoor

Exmoor lies just to the west of the Quantocks and comprises a unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, much of it overlooking the spectacular West Somerset and North Devon coast, which boasts the highest sea cliffs in England. Recognised as one of the UK’s finest landscapes, Exmoor has inspired poets, writers and artists for hundreds of years and continues to do so today.

Stretching from Dunster in the east (less than half an hour from Pardlestone Farm) to Combe Martin in the west, Exmoor offers a remoteness and tranquillity rare in southern Britain and was designated a National Park, in order to conserve its unique and natural beauty, in 1954.  http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/

Valley of the Rocks, Lynton and Lynmouth

At the western fringes of Exmoor are the twin resorts of Lynton and Lynmouth and just to the west, the Valley of the Rocks. Worth the hour-long drive from Pardlestone Farm, the Valley of the Rocks is a popular tourist destination, noted as much for its feral goats as for its geology. Fossil-rich and comprising huge exposures of the oldest Devonian rock in the area, the valley also features periglacial formations, created when this area was at the limit of glacial activity during the last Ice Age.  https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walksdb/247/

Glastonbury

The town of Glastonbury – with its abundant myths and legends – is only an hour away from Pardlestone Farm while the world-renowned Glastonbury Festival (next event, 26-30 June, 2019), is just a few minutes further at Worthy Farm Pilton. http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/

Woolacombe and Croyde Beaches

The beaches of West Somerset provide stunning scenery and make the perfect venue for rock-poolers, dog walkers, and those with an interest in fossils or geology, but if you crave the golden sands and prefer to swim, you would do well to head west to Woolacombe. Twice voted the best beach in the UK by users of Trip Advisor, it is worth the 1½ hour drive from Pardlestone Farm for the journey alone. The beach itself is clean, safe and very long, comprising three miles of sand, backed by rolling dunes.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/woolacombe-beach-in-devon-voted-best-in-uk-a6878991.html

A little further south is Croyde Beach, a magnet for surfers with a more laid-back feel, and in one of the most picturesque settings along the coast.

Wells

Just an hour’s drive from Pardlestone Farm is England’s smallest city, Wells. Featuring a medieval centre and a wide variety of unique shops and pubs, its star attraction is the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, located alongside the city’s cathedral. Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years and still home to the Bishop today, visitors can walk in their footsteps through a number of rooms within the palace as well as in the Bishop’s private chapel. Within the palace’s moat are 14 acres of gardens whose history can be traced to before 1206. Due to their exceptional historic importance, the gardens are Grade II listed. They have also been designated a ‘partner garden’ by the Royal Horticultural Society – a status awarded to gardens of ‘outstanding and exceptionally high standards of planting and design’. https://bishopspalace.org.uk/

Clarks Village

The opportunity for retail therapy isn’t far from Pardlestone Farm, in particular at Clarks outlet village, less than an hour away. With around 80 shops offering outlet prices it provides a great opportunity for picking up bargains. And located in Street, close to Glastonbury, there’s the chance for sightseeing in the same trip.  https://clarksvillage.co.uk/sites/clarks_village/files/102663_cv_online_map_11.17.pdf

Taunton

Taunton is Somerset’s county town and offers both historical interest and good shopping facilities, around 40 minutes’ drive from Pardlestone Farm. Over 1,000 years of religious history is in evidence in the town including the monastery, dating back to the 10th century, and Taunton Castle, which has Anglo Saxon origins. The town is also home to Somerset’s County Cricket Ground and is a venue for the westcountry carnival circuit.

Minehead and Butlins

Minehead is West Somerset’s major coastal town, offering traditional seaside facilities including an iconic Butlin’s holiday park. Open to day visitors and including a traditional fairground, waterpark, sports and live entertainment, a one-day ticket is available to those who book up to the night before. https://www.butlins.com/day-visits/minehead/