Craving The Countryside? Make Tracks To These Somerset Towns

Pack your wellies and head to the country. We’ve picked out the best places to visit in Somerset on a weekend away

orchards, Glastonbury, ancient sites imbued with mystical
wonder, stereotypically pretty country towns and rolling green
hills of the kind sung about in school assemblies: the peaks and
troughs of Somerset’s topography promise an English cliché
that has drawn jaded urbanites down towards its bucolic interiors
for decades. But, while being a proud agricultural county steeped
in tradition, the area is now also something of a mecca for
think-outside-the-box artists and makers, talented (but
unpretentious) restaurateurs and dynamic entrepreneurs, as
evidenced by its innovative arts hubs, diverse dining scene and
abundance of independent stores, their shelves stocked with
everything from wooden butter knives to handmade soap. It’s also,
in our opinion, where you’ll find some of the best stargazing
opportunities out there. Whether you’re seeking sunshine, spiritual
sanctuary, swan-shaped taps or just a really good local cider, be
sure to take our guide to five of the prettiest towns in Somerset
with you.

The best towns in Somerset to visit



With a reputation for having more than its fair share of
handmade ceramics and flat whites in its city centre, Frome owns
its identity as Somerset’s creative hub. After a hearty brunch at
Stony Street
, take a stroll up the steep, cobbled Catherine
Hill in the town centre for a sense of the scene. The brightly
painted fronts of numerous independent shops far outnumber any
familiar names: find coffee at Frāmā; modern curios at Kobi & Teal;
sharp silhouettes at Studio Ashay; and – yes – speckled ceramics at
Ground. The bounty of beautiful things on offer is
testament to the town’s community-imbued spirit, which itself is a
hand-me-down from the wool trade town’s history of nonconformity.
Inspired by its rebellious, riotous past, locals have long
championed creative enclaves such as Black Swan
, which hosts studios and exhibitions in town.

Planning a roadtrip through the Somerset hills?

Hause & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset


Brought into the spotlight when the internationally renowned
Hauser &
gallery opened in 2014, Bruton has become the summer
decampment of choice for London’s art crowd, but don’t read that as
a byword for pretension. Somehow, between its blousy hedgerows and
hamstone cottages, this whip-smart town has continued to cultivate
its characteristically relaxed, uncomplicated character, with new
openings such as soap purveyors Philo & Philo and the vintage haven that is
New Romantic
emphasising its continued evolution. A bevy of accommodation
options pair the Austen-worthy elegance of historic buildings in
and around the town with sharp, modern design (see Number One
, At the Chapel and Durslade
), while the local food offering plays a central role
in Somerset’s burning gastronomic ambitions. Names to have on your
radar include Horrell & Horrell and Matt’s Kitchen,
and if you want to dine as the down-from-Londoners do, take a table
in the tiny, softly lit Osip. Merlin Labron-Johnson’s farm-to-table
spot serves a seven-course tasting menu of earthy, unpretentious
plates – Westcombe Dairy cheddar gougères, and blushing venison
beside salt-baked turnip slices, for example.

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset


Aptly, this being the town that gave the nearby festival its
name, Glastonbury is a strange kaleidoscope of contemporary hippie
culture and ancient, mystical lore. Crystals? Check. Vegan cafés?
Check. A bookshop seeking to service those embarking on a spiritual
path? Check, again. Even the high street is a hodgepodge of
historic properties painted to look not dissimilar to Joseph’s
technicolour dreamcoat. The reason for this swing to the New Age is
the town’s ancient roots (it’s allegedly been populated since the
Stone Age), and its location at the heart of the so-called Isle of
Avalon, a mystical region that’s long been associated with
Arthurian legends. A tour of the wells, temples and abbeys dotted
around town will give you a sense of its role as a spiritual
fulcrum, while trips to the Rural Life Museum and a hike up Glastonbury’s isolated
tor offer a more sober sense of its character. Come evening, we’re
booking into the storied George & Pilgrims Hotel to bed down in a
four-poster, à la Guinevere.

The Crooked Swan, Crewkerne, Somerset


Diminutive Crewkerne is a labyrinth of crooked lanes, Georgian
manor houses and Jacobean buildings, most of which, come the warmer
months, is cloaked by the riot of summer growth – ivy scrambling up
walls and nodding cow parsley crowding roads. The elegant,
lichen-kissed buildings are surprisingly grand for a Somerset
village – a hangover from days of industry, when its factories made
sail cloth for boats of the empire. Fitting, then, that down the
road sits the school that educated Nelson’s captain, Sir Thomas
Hardy. Make your base The Crooked Swan, an antiques-filled pub that
feels more Shoreditch than Somerset. Four rooms – all highly
individual – are crammed with foraged curios, from swan-shaped taps
and dressmaker’s dolls, to coat hooks made from antler and
chinoiserie wallpaper.

Three Horseshoes, Batcombe, Somerset
Photo credit: Emma Lewis


When Margot Henderson announced that she was opening a pub,
three decades after embarking on her exploits at The Eagle, it
confirmed that Somerset was a destination to watch. Tucked into
tiny Batcombe, between the swooping silhouettes of the Mendip
Hills, The Three Horseshoes promises a pared-back country
stay in one of five creamy-coloured bedrooms tucked beneath its
eaves, and a morning, noon and night food offering of hearty
breakfasts, simple lunches and elegant, clean-cut dinners. You’ll
need the fuel; once loaded up on rabbit pies, brawn and pickles,
washed down with classic ales, the done thing in this diminutive
locale is to take a stomp. Bruton is a healthy hour away.

Somerset Countryside, UK


Situated in the west of the county, Wiveliscombe (or Wivey, if
you’re hoping to fit in) fits the bill for a welly-booted weekend.
Considered the “gateway” to Exmoor, which sits broodingly behind
the much more bucolic Brendon Hills, this quiet country town feels
a little out of sync with its swankier neighbours in the county’s
east. Don’t be dissuaded from stopping by. Though rural, this
old-school settlement has ambitions to follow in Bruton and Frome’s
footsteps, and it’s looking likely, given a recent wave of artists
arriving in town. For a glimpse of the scene, take a peek at the
delicate pottery on show at Jo Dove
. There are few hotels around here; instead, book one
of North Down Farm’s cosy cabins. Visitors to the
valley-gazing stay, set on a working farm, are welcomed with a
basket of local produce including cider, freshly baked bread and
farm eggs. Bring your thermals: set on the edge of a designated
dark skies area, you’ll be stargazing all night.

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