8 of the most beautiful places in… Somerset
Date Posted: 16/03/2016
This month, Group Leisure focuses on all Somerset has to offer to travellers who appreciate a scenic view, both in the city and the countryside.
1. The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath (pictured above). (Photo credit: VisitEngland/The Gainsborough Bath Spa).
Who said we were only talking about the beauty of the natural world? The Gainsborough Bath Spa was originally built in the 1800s, and occupies two Grade II listed buildings with Georgian and Victorian façades in the heart of a World Heritage Site.
The hotel is centred around Spa Village Bath and has the privilege of having access to the natural thermal, mineral-rich waters of the area. This is an ideal stop for groups who’d like a day of pampering in attractive settings.
2. Clevedon Pier. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/North Somerset Council).
Clevedon Pier is a seaside pier on the east shore of the Severn Estuary. It was described by poet Sir John Betjeman as the most beautiful pier in England and is a designated Grade I listed site.
The pier offers a landing stage for steamers, and is a popular attraction for tourists and anglers. Groups can visit the café at the pier head, and a souvenir shop and art gallery at the toll house.
3. Mendip Hills. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/North Somerset Council/Liz Milner).
The Mendip Hills are a range of limestone hills to the south of Bristol and Bath. The hills overlook the Somerset Levels to the south and the Chew Valley to the north. The higher, western part of the hills has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Walking groups can take on a number of routes of varying challenge, and there are many footpaths and bridleways that are clearly marked throughout open access areas.
4. The Kennet and Avon Canal, Sydney Gardens, Bath. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/BathTourismPlus).
Sydney Gardens is the oldest park in the city of Bath, situated behind the Holburne Museum. 12 acres in size, it became very popular towards the end of the 18th and 19th century and was frequently visited by members of the Royal family.
Today the park contains trees, shrubberies, lawns, flower beds and tennis courts, and is popular for its bridge views of the railway line for spotting trains. The Kennet and Avon Canal also runs through the park.
5. Seafarers Sculpture in Portishead. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/North Somerset Council/Liz Milner).
The Seafarer’s Sculpture has been created by artist Michael Dan Archer. It consists of a forest of granite columns by the sea in the Port Marine development in Portishead near Bristol.
The 108 granite columns vary in height and are arranged in serpentine aisles, and at the crest of the mound a stone has been set for visitors to sit on and contemplate the sea. From land or sea, the view reveals that the columns form the profile of a wave.
6. Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/Iain Lewis).
Spanning the Avon Gorge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is a prime example of Victorian engineering, designed in 1830 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The bridge, with its stone towers, is said to have been inspired by the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, Egypt.
The bridge visitor centre offers a range of tours to prebooked groups ranging from an all-encompassing look at the history of the bridge to specialist tours for engineers, Brunel enthusiasts or historians.
7. Uphill, Weston-super-Mare. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/North Somerset Council).
The village of Uphill is a pretty English parish in Weston-super-Mare, and is close to a nature reserve and the coast; great for groups who like to explore a variety of environments on a trip.
The nature reserve is home to diverse flora; visitors walking the area can enjoy displays of cowslips, primroses and green winged orchids. There is also a tower, a church, amenities in the village, and lots of walking trails that head through the fields and towards the sea.
8. Wells Cathedral. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/Iain Lewis).
Wells Cathedral is an example of picturesque Gothic architecture with a 13th century West Front still carrying 290 pieces of Medieval sculpture. There is a beautiful octagonal Chapter House; impressive scissor arches; and a 14th century Vicars' Close.
The cathedral also has one of the largest collections of historic stained glass in the country, and GTOs can prebook guided tours to learn about this. There are also lunch time concerts as well as daily Evensong, which visitors can sit and listen to.