South Somerset is full of old, historic villages and beautiful market towns where the locally quarried golden Ham stone makes up the large proportion of the buildings. The River Parrett Trail runs right through this part of Somerset and down into Dorset. The trail is an excellent way of exploring the South Somerset towns and villages and the beautiful countryside that lies around them. Ham Hill Country Park is one of the major countryside attractions in the region, topped by the largest Iron Age hill fort in Europe.
Yeovil is the main centre for South Somerset and its proximity near the border makes it a good base for exploring both Somerset and Dorset . Many popular heritage sites and attractions sit around Yeovil including the National Trust’s Montacute House and Gardens, The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton near Ilchester and Montacute TV, Radio and Toy Museum.
Ilminster is a town with a long traceable history. Its grand church is the fifteenth century Minster in the town’s title and there are plenty of historic buildings of differing architectural styles. The Meeting House is now an art gallery and concert hall and has a varied events programme and changing art exhibitions. Ilminster is also on the Somerset Carnivals circuit which is not to missed in Autumn. There are plenty of countryside walks around Ilminster including Herne Hill and the route of the old Chard Canal.
Crewkerne is a historic market town that dates from Saxon times when it was known as Creucerne. Its grand parish church is one of the finest medieval churches in Somerset. The town centre contains a mix of medieval and Georgian buildings and makes a pleasant place to stroll round and check out the shops. You can find out more about the town’s history at the Crewkerne Museum. High on a hill above the town sits Bincombe Beeches Local Nature Reserve with magnificent views, nature trails and picnic areas.
Chard has a rich heritage and has been the birthplace of several innovative and influential people. The excellent Chard Museum has a fantastic array of artefacts telling the story of its famous residents including John Stringfellow who was the first to invent powered flight, John Gillingham who designed artificial limbs and Margaret Bondfield who was Britain’s first women cabinet minister. Take in the town’s many historic buildings via a Heritage Plaque Trail and visit nearby Chard Reservoir with country walks and a family friendly wildlife park.
South Somerset is full of picturesque, historic villages like Stoke sub Hamdon, Martock and South Petherton. Many of the older cottages and buildings are built from Ham stone quarried from local quarries. There is also a smattering of other architectural styles particularly Georgian. You’ll discover a host of historic buildings and churches and some wonderful Church Walk trails and the River Parrett Trail are in the area. Guided walks are widely available across the South Somerset countryside and villages.
Airports including Bristol, Exeter and Bournemouth are all gateways in to South Somerset. If you are arriving by road, main motorway the M5 (exit junction 24 for Bridgwater or junction 25 Taunton) is the route in from the north and the Midlands. If you are coming from London and the South East, off the M25, onto the M3 and then take the now famous A303 (see Tom Fort’s book ‘A303: Highway to the Sun’!). The A35 and A37 main roads afford access in from Hampshire and Dorset, and the A30 or A303 from Cornwall and Devon. South West Trains offer rail links to Yeovil Junction and Crewkerne from London Waterloo and ferry services arriving at Plymouth, Southampton, Portsmouth and Poole are all within an easy drive.
Where to stay
South Somerset contains a huge choice of character holiday cottage accommodation around market towns and villages, as well as across beautiful rural areas like the Blackdown Hills AONB. Discover stunning guest houses and farmhouse B&Bs around Chard, Yeovil and Crewkerne perfect for exploring Somerset, Dorset and Devon or choose from over 150 cottages listed here on iknow in the area, many boasting enchanting period features and perfect for romantic getaways.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.