Pocket Britain

One of the most rural counties in the UK, covered in green, rolling hills, and flat, wet marshland

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Somerset, in the English south-west, is one of the most rural counties in the UK, covered in green, rolling hills, and flat, wet marshland. Despite its relative lack of big cities and towns, there are plenty of things to keep visitors occupied. You can relax on sandy beaches, investigate old architecture, or simply explore the pretty countryside. In fact, Somerset makes a strong case for being the most beautiful place in the whole of Britain.
Many of the county's most attractive locations are officially designated as "areas of outstanding natural beauty", which ensures that they'll be kept the way they are for years to come. One such area is the Mendip Hills, towards the north. It is a popular place for hikers and hill walkers, of course - but this is also one of the foremost spots in the UK for caving. The network of underground tunnels and caverns underneath the hills is so large that it still hasn't been fully explored! Several of these caves are easily accessible, such as Wookey Hole, and Gough's Cave.
Meanwhile, back above ground, walking enthusiasts are given a further treat at Exmoor National Park, which is almost entirely contained within Somerset. This flat expanse of moorland is one of the most open areas in the country, making for an endless array of wide, panoramic views. There are over 1000 kilometres of walking paths and trails, meaning that you're unlikely to run out of places to explore.
There is actually quite a large amount of flat land within the county, particularly at the Somerset Levels, a large expanse of grassland to the south of the Mendip Hills. The landscape is interrupted by several conical hills, which offer commanding views of the area. One such place is Glastonbury Tor, which is crowned by a ruined church tower. Its distinctive figure is visible for miles around.
It can also be seen from the nearby Worthy Farm, which is the site of the annual Glastonbury Festival. Every year, more than 150,000 people come from miles around, to enjoy a three-day programme of music, comedy, theatre, dance, and many other arts. It is the biggest festival of its type in the entire world, and it keeps on growing. In recent years, the line-up has featured over 700 acts and artists, on over 80 stages.
Of course, this isn't the only reason why people flock to Somerset in the summer. The county is also home to several popular beach resorts, such as Minehead, and Weston-Super-Mare, which feature everything you might want from a traditional British seaside holiday, including soft sand, watersports, and amusement arcades.
Another popular destination is the old city of Bath, which was originally established as a spa resort by the Romans. The ancient bath buildings are still standing, and they're just one of the many fascinating pieces of architecture which can be seen within the city's boundaries.
Perhaps most of all, Somerset is known for its friendly people. One of the best ways to enjoy a visit to the county is to go to one of the countryside pubs, and get to know people over a pint or two of the traditional local cider. Be careful though, because it can be quite strong!
Visitor Information
Wookey Hole is open daily (only weekends during December and January) from 10am to 4pm (5pm in Summer). Entry costs £16 for adults, £11 children. Wells, Somerset BA5 1BB, England. Tel: 01749 672243
Gough’s Cave is open daily (except at Christmas) as part of Cheddar Caves & Gorge, from 10:30am (10am in summer) to 5pm. Entry costs £17 for adults, £11 children. Cheddar BS27 3QF. Tel: 01934 742 343

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