SOMERSET

Mention the county of Somerset and the words cider and apples immediately spring to mind - and possibly the sound of leather striking willow. Its landscape includes the gently sloping red sandstone Quantock Hills, while to west of Somerset is rugged Exmoor.

Among the things to see is the Cheddar Gorge (a bit of a tourist trap in the summer), while Glastonbury and its surrounds have become sort of a home to New Ageism and 21st century paganism.

In Nether Stowey (near Bridgewater) is a cottage where Coleridge lived for three years, while the ancient seaport town of Watchet also has connections with Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. In Saxon times Watchet was thought important enough to have its own mint.

Among a host of ruined brick piles are those of the 800 year old Cistercian Cleeve Abbey [ST 047407], the well preserved cloisters of Benedictine Mulcheney Abbey [ST 428248], Daws Castle (west of Watchet), and the impressive and well preserved moated 14th century Nunney Castle near Frome [ST 737457].

For industrial history visit Dunster (near Minehead) where there's a working water mill, 17th century market hall, a stone packhorse bridge spanning the old factory millstream, and Dunster Castle which belonged to the Luttrell family for almost 600 years. Allerford has a packhrose bridge and museum of rural life.

The Berrow Flats, close to the village of the same name which lies north of Burnham-on-Sea, the remains of a Norwegian ship which foundered in 1897 can be seen at low tide. Kilve has a 13th century chantry and the shoreline to the north has lots of exposed fossils.Culbone village is home to England's smallest church, St. Beuno's. It seats just 30 people.

If you're passing through Kingsbury Episcopi and like cider, drop in at the Somerset Cider Brandy Company who'll give you a tour of their orchards and a look at the paraphernalia used in cider making.

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