As a Somerset lass, I’ve done a lot of hiking in Somerset over the years. As a child, I used to go camping in West Somerset every summer with my family and we’d always find new wonders. Over the years my love for hiking and being outdoors has grown extensively. I’m no longer the whiney child with a stone constantly in their boot complaining that they’re tired. Lately, I’ve had a lot of time to explore my local area and find some of the best walks in Somerset closer to home. But this post isn’t confined to just one small area accessible from my doorstep. I’ve got a bank of the best walks in Somerset up my sleeve so grab your walking boots because it’s time to get exploring!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Abi Purvis.
1. Cheddar Gorge
Address: The Cliffs, Cheddar BS27 3QF
The Mendip Hills are a real beauty spot with views spanning across Cheddar Gorge. The limestone gorge is arguably the most impressive sight from the West Mendip Way footpath that leads to the Jacob’s Ladder lookout tower and steps. You’ll even be able to see Cheddar Reservoir and the expansive Mendip Hills from the limestone crags and pinnacles that the footpath trails along.
It’s best to do this route as a circular walk. I’ve often started this route as a long hike all the way from Burrington Combe, taking in the Jacob’s Ladder viewpoint, walking through Cheddar town, before eventually looping back around. But if a long hike isn’t for you, the four-mile National Trust hike known as the Cheddar Gorge Walk takes in all the best bits. The top of the gorge is a fairly flat area (minus the bumps of a few rocks). This makes it the perfect scenic picnic spot if you take a packed lunch with you.
2. Cadbury Camp
Address: Cadbury Camp Ln W, Tickenham BS20 7SF
One of the best walks in Somerset, Cadbury Camp is an absolute outdoor haven. It’s an Iron Age Hillfort meaning it looks kind of like a lumpy field… but the good kind. Now it sounds like I’m not selling it very well here (and I have to agree). But the unusual layout is really fun to walk through. It also offers some great sheltered spots for a quick rest. (I actually hid in the hill fort remanence on Boxing Day to munch on a mince pie and have a brew with my mum as we hid from the wind and rain!)
But if the “lumpy field” isn’t doing it for you, there are some gorgeous views of the Somerset Levels and even the Mendip Hills from the high grounds of Cadbury Camp. I normally approach the camp from Portishead but the beauty of its location is that you can approach it from any town or village surrounding it. This also means you can make this walk as long or as short as you fancy. Just pick up the Gordano Round footpath from a place of your choice!
Address: National Trust Dunster Castle, Dunster, Minehead TA24 6SL
Wander through the impressive castle grounds and cobbled streets of Dunster high street and you’ll feel like you’re walking through history. Most of the best walks in Somerset are on the hills, but Dunster is an excellent exception. Like a charming time capsule of British past, everything about this quaint town is picturesque.
There are multiple options for a walk around Dunster which means there’s something for everyone. If you’re a fan of the seaside, park at Dunster Beach car park, walk via Dunster’s sweet steam railway train station before heading up through the town. Here you can easily spend an afternoon mooching through shops and popping into tea rooms.
If you fancy more of a walk rather than exploring the town, you can adventure on the four-mile circular walk. This leads you through the outer grounds of Dunster Castle, past the Water Mill, over Gallox Bridge, and up Avill Valley. You then descend back down through Dunster Church gardens ready to rest your feet in one of those tearooms I can’t stop raving about!
4. Selworthy and Selworthy Beacon
Address: Selworthy, Minehead TA24 8TR
Park on North Hill in Minehead, and meet the trails that you’ll follow through the glowing blossoming heather full of bustling bumble bees. From here you can look out across Exmoor’s splendid coastline and enjoy the panoramic peacefulness Selworthy Beacon has to offer. It’s a simple hike navigationally speaking. Just let the track guide you to the beacon while your eyes concentrate on soaking up the delightfully rugged scenery.
Once you arrive at the concrete beacon, take a left and hike towards the forest edge. Here you’ll meet a footpath that will lead you down through the depths of the woodland. It’s a fairly steep path (but not too painful on the knees), which will certainly make you thankful you’re going down not up. This path leads you to discover the cosiest of cottages in Selworthy village.
Here you can have a peaceful rest in Selworthy’s tea rooms, a must-visit for a hike in Exmoor. At this tranquil rest spot, the tables are often occupied by fellow hikers watching greenfinches nibbling away at leftover afternoon tea crumbs. Once you’re rested it’s back up the hill you go! Instead of going back to the beacon, you can follow the footpath that runs parallel to the quiet road along North Hill.
5. Abbots Pool
Address: Abbots Pool Car Park, Bristol BS8 3RR
Abbots Pool is somewhere that I only discovered recently. Whether you take a direct route from the nearby car park or trek from all corners of the Gordano round (maybe even from Cadbury Camp), your first glance at Abbots Pool is an astonishing one.
The large pond at the centre of the woodland catches the reflection of the sun beautifully during most parts of the day. This beauty spot alone is enough to make this one of the best walks in Somerset. On my trip to Abbots Pool, we approached from Failand Church following the clearly signposted Gordano Round public footpath, which made for a lovely day hike!
Address: Tyntesfield, Wraxall, Bristol BS48 1NX
For a gentle walk that only takes an hour or two, Tyntesfield National Trust house and gardens is the one. The beautiful traditional gardens and parkland surrounding the Victorian gothic house are a delight to the senses. From the enchanting wildlife in the woodland to the extensive floral beds, the peaceful scenes are sure to capture your intrigue. And the best part is that the footpaths are gentle too. This allows you to just focus on taking in your surroundings.
Whether you opt for the woodland walk or a short lap around the perimeters of the house, this National Trust location is a delightful setting for a midmorning or afternoon walk. You can visit the historic walled gardens and greenhouses and have a nosey in the house if you’re a fan of mansions. Just make sure you bring your camera along for the ride as you’ll want to take photos of everything!
7. Portishead to Clevedon coastal path walk
Address: Lake Grounds Car Park, Lake Rd, Portishead, Bristol BS20 7JE
The coastal path from Portishead to Clevedon is a surprisingly panoramic walk. There are luscious green hedgerows and fields on your left and breathtaking views of the River Severn Estuary on your right. It’s the perfect hike for a sunny day. (And you may even be tempted to go for a dip in one of the bays!)
The rugged cliff faces offer some astounding views. If you look back to the right, you’ll see the Severn Bridge. And as you move around the headland of the coast, you’ll begin to gain a clearer view of the spectacular Clevedon Pier. Keep your eyes peeled as it will suddenly pop out at you as though you’ve been playing a game of peek-a-boo around the coastal path.
When you arrive in Clevedon, there’s a small museum at the entrance of the pier detailing the history of the 1860’s pier. For a small fee, you’re able to explore the length of the pier. And getting to see the view across the Severn Estuary to the Welsh hill’s opposite makes it well worth every penny. It’s about a five-mile walk each way but it’s fairly flat and provides excellent scenery.
8. Poets Walk in Clevedon
Address: Clevedon Marine Lake, 170 Old Church Rd, Clevedon BS21 7TU
Explore the west side of Clevedon along the seaside clifftop routes that inspired many writers and poets, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Alfred Tennyson. Start this walk at Clevedon Marine Lake, a popular spot for avid swimmers, and follow signs for Poets Walk that run parallel with the views over the Bristol Channel.
On this walk you’ll not only discover parts of the 12th-century St Andrew’s Church, but also remains of a rabbit farm, and ruins that endure from an Iron Age fort. The mix of architectural remains swerved in with the semi-hilly route and tied together with views of the channel, makes this an inspiring walk. This is a popular route so it’s not as peaceful as you’d probably like. But it’s still worth the journey to enjoy the views and the local nature reserve’s wildlife and plant life.
9. Leigh Woods
Address: Leigh Woods – Forestry England, Abbots Leigh, Bristol BS8 3QE
Leigh Woods‘ veteran trees and earthly footpath trail is a great option if you enjoy a peaceful woodland walk. The woodland full of Oak and Ash trees sings with songs from the birds nesting here and the crunching of leaves beneath your feet. (Top tip: visit in autumn so you can appreciate the delightful array of golden colours!) Or sometimes the woodland floor glows blue and purple when the bluebells arrive.
A walk through Leigh Woods is also a great opportunity to see Bristol from above. Enjoy captivating views over Bristol and Clifton Suspension Bridge that spans across the Avon Gorge. The views are breathtaking, especially when you can see the small dots of local climbers traversing up the gorge’s face!
So there you have it: the 9 best walks in Somerset that you need to go on! Which of these best walks in Somerset has most caught your eye? I hope that you find the time to make the most of these gorgeous walks soon. I’m very lucky to have spent a lot of time hiking here as a child and I’m now able to do the same as an adult. Happy hiking!
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