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Jul 22, 2020
Yes, most coastal regions have fab beaches, but do they have the Victorian history of Burnham-on-Sea (on which Jane Austen’s unfinished last novel was based)? This former fishing village with its luxury cottages for holidaying in, now boasts the second longest beach in Europe. Yep, it’s that big!
And talking, of Victorian splendour, Portishead’s esplanade is a historical sight to behold. For starters you’ll find the popular Lido there – don’t worry the water is heated (even in summer!).
But, perhaps leaving your luxury lodge and striding along a pebbled beach first thing in the morning is more your thing? If so then check out Clevedon beach where you’ll find the famous Pier of the same name. Listed Grade One and nearly 150 years old, it’s a former embarkation point for the paddle steamer carrying passengers from Devon and Wales.
Somerset is, of course, famous for its cider (or scrumpy as we like to call it in these parts). And there's nowhere better to sample it than in an olde-worlde tavern. So, say hello to The George Inn in Norton St Philip near Bath. This Grade I establishment is 700 years old and decked out with fine antique furniture. There's also plenty of exposed beams and an ancient galleried courtyard to be impressed at. And you thought your traditional luxury lodge was something special...
Barmaids at the Sheppey in Lower Godney meanwhile have been serving up scrumpy to happy patrons for more than a century now. We lost count of the number of different ciders last time we were there. But then, that might very well have been the cider itself to blame...
Beating the Sheppey's record for cider production is Burrow Hill Farm which has been making this wonder juice for twice as long - two centuries to be precise. So they're bound to have perfected the recipe by now! Find it set amongst 180 acres of cider apples at Martock. Just remember to book a taxi back to your luxury cottage for later on.
One of the best things about going on holiday is getting to forget the diet. And if there's one place in Somerset to toss the weight-loss book out the window it's at The Ethicurean in Wrington. This Michelin-starred restaurant with its beautiful Barley Wood Walled Garden supplying diners’ plates with fresh, just-picked produce, is a rustic delight. An Observer magazine Best Ethical Restaurant, its home-pressed apple juice is a particular favourite.
And, if we're talking prize-winning eateries, then there's the Lord Poulett Arms in Hinton St George near Yeovil. It's been voted Somerset Dining Pub of the Year in the Somerset Eating Guide more times than you can count on one hand. It also features in the 2017 Sunday Times Top Restaurant Guide.
Incidentally, did you know Somerset has more than 8,500 specialist food producers? No, neither did we. But we'll toast that fact with some scrumpy.
After all that splendid food you might want to do a bit of walking - or even cycling - to help digest it all. And there's nowhere better than in Cheddar Gorge. Lose yourself in the beauty of its grassy and rock-sculpted cliffs or dive beneath the ground into caves filled with stalactites.
At nearly 400ft deep and three miles long, it is England’s biggest gorge, and those large pinnacles really are something to behold.
Somerset is home to two of the best-known places in the country - Glastonbury and Bath. Both splendid in their own right, Glastonbury boasts the famous standing stones while King Arthur is believed to be buried at the Tor.
Bath has some of the finest street architecture you'll ever see and was lived in by much-loved author Jane Austen. It's also the location of the famous 2000-year old Roman Baths with its natural hot water.
You will find luxury lodges and luxury cottages near both locations.
Pop down to Hestercombe House near Taunton and you'll find three gardens spanning 300 years of lavish landscaping and design.
If cottage garden design is more up your street then East Lambrook Manor Gardens will positively charm you. Listed Grade I, this lovely landscape is the work of the late Margery Fish who, you'll find, had a 'thing' for snowdrops and hellebores, in particular.
Lovingly created by the late Joan Loraine, the organic Greencombe Gardens at Porlock has dogwood, rhododendrons, and oak and sweet chestnut trees amongst its many treasures. It's also home to four national collections of plants - one of which is called the delightful Gaultheria (or Berries for Bears).
If you haven't been inspired to come to Somerset by any - or all - of the above, then we reckon you're probably a lost cause. If, on the other hand, you're in the pro-Somerset camp and looking for some top-class luxury self-catering accommodation in which to base yourself then see our Somerset Collection
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