Places to visit
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton
This pioneering world-class gallery and arts centre opened in summer 2014, breathing new life into an historic model farm on the outskirts of Bruton. With several large exhibition spaces, blending modern architctural design with Listed buildings, it is a cultural destination in its own right, the gallery’s exhibition programme bringing the best in contemporary art to a rural setting. The landscaped gardens in which the gallery is set have been designed by world-renowned Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf, and the centre includes a library and bookshop. Meals, snacks and drinks are served all day in the
Roth Bar and Grill, an extension of the gallery’s stylish design.
Open: daily. Admission: free. gallery’s opening hours here.
King Alfred’s Tower (4 miles)
King Alfred’s Tower is a folly linked to the Stourhead estate built in 1772. Its size and beauty make it an imposing addition to the landscape, and the views from the top are breathtaking. The tower was intended to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War against France and supposedly stands near the location where it is believed that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in 878 before defeating the Danish army. The tower is 49 metres high and has 205 steps to the top, where visitors can enjoy the fantastic 360-degree views.
Open limited hours
Westcombe Dairy (5 miles)
Westcombe Dairy is located in a beautiful secluded valley in east Somerset called the Batcombe Vale. A small family-run artisan dairy, Westcombe uses a handcrafted approach to make award-winning cheeses from their very own cows’ milk. Visitors are welcome at the dairy where they can taste cheese directly from the aging room, sample some craft beer from The Wild Beer Co, or try one of the amazing apple spirits from The Somerset Cider Brandy Co.
Dairy shop opening times: Monday – Friday, 9am–5:30pm. Saturdays, 10am–3pm
Stourhead (8 miles)
When Stourhead first opened in the 1740s, a magazine described it as ‘a living work of art’. A unique Palladian mansion it has a world-famous landscape garden complete with a magnificent lake reflecting classical temples, mystical grottoes, and rare and exotic trees. The Hoare family (who were also previous owners of Durslade Farm, the site in which Hauser & Wirth Somerset is located) history can be uncovered in Stourhead House, which features a Regency library and fabulous collections of Chippendale furniture and paintings, all set amid delightful lawns, parkland and a 1,072-hectare nature conservation estate.
Cranmore Tower (8 miles)
Cranmore Tower is an old folly prominently sited on a high point of the East Mendip range in Somerset. Built in the 1860’s the Tower still stands today proudly overlooking the countryside and offering spectacular views from an elevation of 1050 ft above sea level. As well as climbing the towers steps, visitors can also enjoy walking through the deciduous Cranmore woods and tea, coffee and cakes at the Tower Tea Rooms.
Opening times: Daily between 9am–7pm
Kilver Court Secret Gardens (9 miles)
Hidden in the heart of the Mendips are the Secret Gardens of Kilver Court. They were first created over 100 years ago by Ernest Jardine and the 3.5 acre site offers an ‘Oasis of Tranquility & Reflection’ for all visitors.
Opening times: Daily between 9am–5.30pm
Wells (14 miles)
The smallest city in England, with its splendid 12th Century Cathedral and Bishops Palace, 14th Century Vicars’ Close, and 18th Century Town Hall. A traditional open-air market is held every Wednesday and Saturday at the old Market Place, and the city boasts a wide range of shops, pubs and restaurants.
Wells Cathedral (14 miles)
Wells Cathedral is one of the most beautiful of English cathedrals. Nestling at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, it is the centrepiece of the medieval city of Wells. The choral tradition in Wells is even older than the present Cathedral, which was the first truly Gothic cathedral to be built in England having been started in 1180. There have been choristers singing in this cathedral and its Saxon predecessor for over a thousand years.
Opening times: April – September, 7am–7pm. October – March, 7am–6pm
The Bishop’s Palace (14 miles)
The Bishop’s Palace, based at the heart of the City of Wells, dates from the early-thirteenth century and has been the home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. As well as being able to view the stunning medieval palace, visitors are welcome to look around the Bishop’s private
Chapel, explore the ruined Great Hall and meet the famous mute swans, all set within the palaces unique 14 acres of garden.
Summer hours: Open daily, 10am–6pm
Glastonbury Tor (14 miles)
Glastonbury Tor is one of Britain’s most iconic and evocative landmarks, offering magnificent views of the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. Steeped in history and legend, Glastonbury Tor is known as being one of the most spiritual sites in the country. Its pagan beliefs are still very much celebrated. It’s a beautiful place to walk, unwind and relax.
Glastonbury (17 miles)
The Abbey, the Tor, the Chalice Well, and the Druid sites – for Glastonbury is the stuff of legend, magic and the Holy Grail. There are a variety of esoteric shops along the high street and a handful of good places to eat and drink too.
The Mendip Hills (17 miles)
An area of outstanding natural beauty, offering way-marked walks, nature trails, and mountain bike routes of varying degrees of difficulty. By foot, bike or car you can visit an iron-age hill fort, a nature reserve, mediaeval houses, ancient villages and numerous public houses offering excellent real ales.
The Colliers Way (18 miles)
The Colliers Way – Route 24 of Sustrans National Cycle Network – is a multi-user recreational path extending 23 miles from Dundas, just outside Bath, through Radstock to Frome following a largely traffic free route.
Somerset Cider Brandy Company (24 miles)
Somerset Cider Brandy Company sits amongst 160 acres of cider apple orchards at the base of Burrow Hill, a famous Somerset landmark that looks out across the Somerset Levels. The farm has been pressing cider for the past 150 years and distilling the cider into Somerset Cider Brandy since 1989. Visitors are welcome to come to farm, view the distillery, walk around the orchard trail and visit the cider house shop.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9am–5.30pm
Cheddar (25 miles)
An ancient village, now associated forever with its famous cheese and the eponymous gorge and caves, it lies within a designated site of special scientific interest and an area of outstanding natural beauty. You can visit the gorge and caves, the local cheese factory and brewery.
Bath (26 miles)
Roman Baths, 15th Century Bath Abbey, the Jane Austen Centre, and so much more, the city is a World Heritage Site packed with things to do and see. Shopping includes the usual high street outlets, but also independent booksellers, galleries, antiques, music and specialist food shops.
Bristol (30 miles)
Explore Bristol’s maritime heritage from pirates and slavery to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, and everything else a major city can offer – theatres and music venues, art galleries and a wide range of modern restaurants and bars. Bristol is also a magnet for shoppers, from the city centre and the new Cabot Circus development to the huge Cribbs Causeway indoor shopping mall situated just off the M5 motorway at junction 18.
The Quantock Hills (40 miles)
Another area of outstanding natural beauty, offering way-marked walks, nature trails, and mountain bike routes of varying degrees of difficulty. Explore the quaint villages with outstanding public houses offering excellent food and good real ale and every child will enjoy the sight of wild miniature ponies trekking over the Hills.