The Blackdown Hills on the South Somerset and East Devon border are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This peaceful hidden corner of England contains a mixed landscape of valleys, springs, high hills, forest and patched farmland. The region is dotted with pretty villages and hamlets like Buckland St Mary and a selection of ancient sites including Iron Age hill forts like Castle Neroche. Local produce and some outstanding cider and ale breweries feature strongly in this farming area as well as numerous, walking, cycling and bridleway routes.
The mix of high and flat land in the Blackdown Hills gave it a particular strategic importance during the Second World War when it became a centre for air crews protecting supply ships from German submarine attack. Many American serviceman were located at the base in Dunkeswell – explore the stories of those involved on the Dunkeswell War Stories website.
Things to do & see
Heritage sites in the area include the beautiful 200 year old Georgian Coldharbour Mill built by the Quaker Thomas Fox, now reopened as a museum in the pretty village of Uffculme with restaurant and shop onsite. Ancient churches and meeting houses in the Blackdown Hills have a history of non-conformism. Discover more at the National Trust’s 17th century thatched Baptist meeting house – Loughwood at Dalwood village near Axminster.
Keen walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers will feel more than at home in the beautiful Blackdown Hills which are the perfect spot for a relaxing short break. Numerous pretty circular walks feature in the north eastern area of the AONB around Chad, Hemyock and Stockland. This area is ideal for exploring the unique forest landscape of the Neroche northern scarp of the Blackdown Hills where you will find ancient sites like the Scheduled Monument Castle Neroche and Curland as well as the numerous Herepath trails.
Easy access by road is off the M5 motorway, Junction 26 down to the Ilminster roundabout via the A358, then onto the A303 for the Somerset area of the AONB around the parish of Buckland St Mary. Major road access in is via the A303 from the east and the A30 from the west and Exeter. Nearest mainline rail links are at Taunton and the nearest airport is Exeter.
Where to stay
Around the pretty hamlets and parishes of the South Somerset and East Devon Blackdown Hills you will find a charming selection of rural cottages and welcoming bed and breakfast accommodation serving up generous locally sourced breakfasts and suppers.
A peaceful setting and a choice of cycling and circular walks from your door are assured and you will find accommodation with great character and period charm in the area including 17th century farmhouse B&Bs with antique furnishings and converted Ropemaker cottages. A choice of family friendly farm holiday experiences with onsite leisure facilities also feature in the AONB.