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Best Villages in Somerset [Visited & Explored]

Written by

Edited by Adele Horwood
Fact-checked by Ben Crookes

If you’re looking for the best villages in Somerset, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve spent years exploring the quaint, picturesque corners of Somerset, and I’m excited to share the cream of the crop with you. From the rolling hills of the Mendips to the tranquil waterways of the Somerset Levels, this county’s villages are a treasure trove of English charm.

In my travels, I’ve discovered spots that are perfect for history buffs, foodies, and nature lovers alike. Whether it’s the medieval allure of Dunster or the foodie haven of Bruton, Somerset’s villages have something for everyone. So, if you’re planning a trip or just daydreaming, let’s dive into the best villages Somerset has to offer.

Remember, it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. And in Somerset, every journey leads to somewhere remarkable.

Exploring the Mendips: Cheddar

When you think of Somerset, I’m sure it’s hard not to immediately associate it with Cheddar. Nestled in the heart of the Mendip Hills, this beloved locale is home to some of Somerset’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

Perhaps most prominently, Cheddar Gorge. The UK’s largest gorge, it’s a spectacular sight to behold. You’ll journey through deep, lush ravines and climb to dizzying heights, taking in unspoilt views across Somerset’s verdant landscape. Geological enthusiasts will particularly appreciate the Ice Age formations that dot the landscape, dating back a staggering 1.2 million years! Now, if that doesn’t satisfy your inner history buff, I don’t know what will.

Taking a step back from nature, the village itself is steeped in history. At the heart of Cheddar, you’ll find quaint cottages, local artisan shops, and welcoming pubs serving the finest West Country cider. A special mention must go to the Cheddar Cheese Company. I mean, you can’t visit Cheddar without having some cheddar, can you? Prepare your senses for a tantalising treat as you sample the best cheese Somerset has to offer. Trust me, it’s an experience your taste buds won’t want to miss.

For the explorative folk, there’s Cheddar Reservoir, a haven for wildlife and a hotspot for sailing and angling. If you’re seeking tranquillity further afield from the bustling village centre, this waterbody is ideal for a serene wander or even a leisurely picnic on a sunny afternoon.

Feeding your cultural curiosity, pay a visit to the Cheddar Yeo, the largest underground river in England. Here, you’ll have the thrilling opportunity to traverse the mysterious hidden caves of Cox’s and Gough’s, enhancing your adventurous expedition in Cheddar.

And don’t forget, use local guides where you can. They’re invaluable sources of insider knowledge, providing fascinating stories and lesser-known facts about the remarkable village of Cheddar.

Dunster: Where Medieval Charm Meets Modern Delights

My journey across Somerset’s scenic landscapes led me next to Dunster. This idyllic village is a seamless blend of the old and the new, where medieval charm beautifully dovetails with modern amenities.

Nestled near the picturesque Exmoor National Park, Dunster is a tranquil haven for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. I’d recommend a stroll around the village for anyone keen on experiencing the quintessential English countryside. Here’s a list of some must-visit places:

  • Dunster Castle: An ancient, hilltop castle offering captivating views of the surrounding area. It’s an iconic landmark with a thousand years of history hidden behind its majestic walls.
  • Dunster Working Watermill: A fully operational 18th-century watermill serving as a live exhibit of Somerset’s rich historical legacy. And don’t forget to try the freshly ground flour – it’s a treat!
  • The Dunster Dolls Museum: Home to an extensive collection of dolls dating back to the 18th century. It’s also known for hosting creative workshops for children and doll enthusiasts.

A visit to Dunster would be incomplete without a taste of its culinary treasures. From quirky cafes to traditional pubs, Dunster’s culinary scene is as diverse as the scenery itself. I’d personally recommend trying the locally brewed cider or the hearty Somerset ploughman’s lunch.

Beyond sightseeing and gastronomy, Dunster provides various recreational activities. The nearby Exmoor National Park is a paradise for hikers, cyclists, and bird watchers. Or for those who prefer a quieter pace, how about a leisurely boat ride on the tranquil Dunster Yarn Market?

Moreover, Dunster has a distinctive shopping experience up its sleeve too. With its cobbled streets lined with independent boutiques offering arts, crafts, and local produce, retail therapy in Dunster is nothing short of unique.

Whether it’s the centuries-old castle, the enticing cuisine, or the breath-taking views from Exmoor, Dunster is certainly a jewel in Somerset’s crown. So let’s move on to uncovering more delightful villages in our Somerset sojourn.

Frome’s Artistic Vibe: A Haven for Creatives

Stepping out of the historic lanes of Dunster, it’s now time to dive into another enchanting village in Somerset. Welcome to Frome, a village that’s brimming with artistic spirit and creativity. It’s this village’s vibrant cultural scene that sets it apart from others in Somerset – truly a haven for creatives.

Frome’s charm lies in its eclectic mix of traditional British culture and modern artistry. It’s a place where the narrow cobbled streets open up into expansive green spaces, adorned with captivating works of contemporary art. Frome is also known for its outstanding architectural beauty. The village is blessed with an abundant collection of preserved historic buildings that bear silent testimony to the region’s past.

What gives the village its artistic kick? It’s the Frome Independent Market. Held on the first Sunday of each month, this vibrant bazaar becomes a magnet for artists, crafters, and artisan food producers from all over south-west England. As I walk through the market, it’s impossible to ignore the buzz of creative energy.

However, Frome isn’t just about physical art. It lives and breathes music too. The Cheese and Grain is a not-for-profit social enterprise and music venue that’s hosted the likes of Robert Plant and the Foo Fighters. On any given night in Frome, it’s quite likely you’ll come across a live music event occurring in one of its pubs or parks.

And let’s not forget about Frome’s vibrant theatre scene. The Merlin Theatre and the Memorial Theatre offer a veritable feast of stage performances, appealing to fans of both contemporary and classic theatre.

Overall, Frome offers a unique blend of traditional charm and artistic vibrancy that captures the imagination and inspires creativity. While it doesn’t attract the same level of tourist traffic as some other Somerset villages – it’s a place that slowly grows on you, leaving you enamoured with its understated charm and innovative spirit.

Picturesque Perfection: Porlock

It’s near impossible to mention Somerset villages without immediately thinking of Porlock. This idyllic village brings together natural beauty, historical intrigue, and warm Somerset hospitality to offer an experience steeped in serenity and charm.

Set between the Bristol Channel and rolling hills, Porlock paints a majestic picture with its panoramic vistas. Porlock Bay and Bossington, easily accessible from the village, treat visitors to pristine beaches. The Porlock Hill grants a sweeping view of the village and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a perfect setting for passionate photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Porlock’s history is just as fascinating as its landscape. The village has successfully conserved its tradition and heritage, seen in the 13th-century church of St. Dubricius and the Doverhay Museum. Here, visitors are transported back to the rich and intriguing past of Somerset. Even the quaint cottages and historic establishments peppered across the village still resonate deeply of Porlock’s unique past.

A visit to Porlock wouldn’t be complete without trying its delicious local cuisine. The village is celebrated for its high-quality seafood, a tribute to its maritime heritage. The Cafe on the Green and Whortleberry Tearoom are popular spots amongst locals and tourists for the exquisite food they serve.

Moreover, Porlock presents a range of outdoor activities. Whether it’s tranquil walks through the scenic South West Coast Path and Exmoor National Park, or more intense activities like horse riding and sailing, there’s something for everyone here.

An annual highlight of Porlock is the Porlock Carnival, a vibrant and lively event showcasing Somerset’s vibrant local culture and community spirit. It’s a great time to immerse oneself in the village’s festive mood and friendly ambience.

Though our exploration of Somerset villages continues, Porlock with its picturesque perfection and warm ambience is undeniably a standout.

Delightful Dining in Bruton

Next on our tour of Somerset’s charming villages, we land in Bruton. Here, foodies will find a bit of paradise in the tucked-away lanes of this ancient market town. Something compelling about Bruton is its vibrant dining scene that blends traditional tastes with modern flavours.

At the heart of this culinary resurgence, you’ll find The Chapel. Housed in a former 17th-century congregational chapel, it’s a delightful blend of bakery, wine shop, and café restaurant. The bakery is nothing short of an artisan bread lover’s haven. They’re known for their sourdough which is, in my opinion, some of the best in Somerset.

There’s also Osip, a tiny farm-to-table restaurant that’s taken Bruton by storm. This Michelin-starred establishment is the brainchild of Merlin Labron-Johnson, one of the UK’s youngest star-earning chefs. Here, the focus is on locally sourced produce. You can savour dishes prepared with ingredients grown just a stone’s throw away.

Apart from these, a less mainstream but equally impressive place to dine is the Cole Manor Tea Rooms. Nestled amidst lush gardens, it’s an idyllic spot for a charming English tea experience. You’ll be served delicious cakes, scones, and finger sandwiches, all beautifully presented. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed afternoon, surrounded by the stunning Somerset countryside.

Don’t forget, the joy of exploring is in discovering the unexpected. So by all means, follow your nose when you’re in Bruton and let your culinary journey unfold organically. There’s a lot left for me to share about Somerset – but let’s save that for our next stop.

My Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Bruton’s not just a pretty face—it’s a culinary haven nestled in Somerset’s rolling hills. With its mix of Michelin-starred cuisine, artisan bread, and traditional afternoon tea, it’s a food lover’s dream. But it’s not just about the food. The village’s historic charm and serene atmosphere add to its appeal. It’s a place that embodies the spirit of Somerset, offering unexpected surprises at every turn. I hope you’re as excited to explore Bruton as I was to write about it. The Somerset tour isn’t over yet, so stay tuned for more hidden gems in this beautiful county.


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