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Straddling the Devon and Somerset boundary, overlooking the Bristol Channel, is a high plateau taking its name from the River Exe, which rises there. Along the coast are England's highest sea cliffs, providing distant views of the Welsh mountains. Inland, moors and heaths offer quiet recreation and a chance for solitude, shared with the wild red deer and Exmoor ponies, while buzzards mew overhead.
In England and Wales, National Parks are extensive areas of relatively wild open and unspoilt countryside suitable for quiet enjoyment. The Park covers 692 sq km (267 sq miles) of the Exmoor plateau, Brendon Hills and Vale of Porlock.
For its size, Exmoor contains a huge variety of habitats and hence a great diversity of wildlife. It is an unusually high area for southern Britain, supporting both arctic and mountain varieties of plants and animals usually found further north and many less hardy species. In all, it is a naturalist's paradise.
Come to Somerset and you will feel the time slipping by more slowly! This is a county alive with history - famous for the legends of King Arthur, Somerset lays claim to 'Camelot' (also an Iron Age hill fort) and at Glastonbury Abbey the ancient monks claimed to have found the remains of this warrior King and his Queen, Gwynevere. Even today, the mystery of Glastonbury and the Tor attracts thousands and there are strong connections with ancient religions and customs such as 'crystal healing' or the power of 'Ley Lines'.
Wells is the smallest city in England with a magnificent cathedral, Bishops Palace, and Vicars Close (one of Europe's best preserved medieval streets). There are dozens of historic towns and villages in Somerset - each with a special story to tell; many towns such as Taunton and Bridgwater were involved in the English Civil War (1642-1651) and also the "Bloody Assize" which followed the Monmouth Rebellion (1685).
In many of Somerset's villages and towns you can visit some marvellous old churches with examples of some unusual mixtures of Norman, Medieval and Victorian architectural styles. Many have fine towers and woodcarvings which are certainly worth seeing.
For those interested in archaeology and ancient civilisations, the caves at Cheddar and Wookey Hole and the Peat Moors on the Levels have evidence of communities thousands of years old - you can even visit a reconstruction of an Iron Age village in the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors.
There are some excellent museums in Somerset, giving detailed information on all aspects of Somerset's history - ancient and modern. At some venues such as the Rural Life Museum (Glastonbury), demonstrations and displays really bring the past to life.
Northe Somerset has a vibrant arts scene, offering a wide variety of opportunities to watch and participate. Many artists have chosen to make their homes in the county and are happy to open their studios and work places to visitors. Throughout the year exciting exhibitions of arts and crafts can be seen at such centres as the Black Swan Guild (Frome) and the Yeovil and Bridgwater Arts Centres.
Somerset is also rich in theatrical possibilities, with several theatres offering year round programmes of live entertainment from stand up comedy to the classics. Even the village halls of the county provide a varied programme of professional performances from all over the world. There are also summer arts festivals offering such delights as world class musicians at the Great Elm Festival (Frome) in June, famous writers reading their work at the Wells Festival of Literature in October; and the best of classical, popular and world music at the innovative Chard Festival of Women in Music in May.
All year round there are concerts of choral and classical music in the magnificent Wells Cathedral and a lively programme of dance events County wide.
Somerset is a county which has been famous for centuries for the 'fruits of the land'. This is the home of Cheddar Cheese and you can still see it being made today in Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills. Somerset apple orchards grow in abundance producing a drink which gives you a taste of the real West Country - cider! From the tiny orchards making Farmhouse 'Scrumpy' (a strong local brew) to the larger cider makers - there has always been a strong association between Somerset and apples - there is even an Apple Brandy being produced in the County called Somerset Royal which further strengthens this link. Many of the orchards are attractions in their own right so take a little time to explore.
The tradition of grape-growing and wine-making stretches back many centuries. They may be small, but present day vineyards are winning national and international acclaim. Take a walk amongst the vines, visit the small museums and sample a glass or two to really experience Somerset wine. In the summer months, many fruit farms enable you to 'pick your own' - strawberries picked fresh from the land never tasted so good!
Whilst travelling through the beautiful varied Somerset landscape, it's hard to resist a West Country Cream Tea - home baked scones, farmhouse clotted cream and local jam are the perfect accompaniment to a refreshing pot of tea. Why not stop at a country pub or inn for a glass of Somerset Ale and a substantial 'Ploughman's' lunch (Cheddar Cheese, pickles, bread and apple) or visit one of the many restaurants in the county to sample traditional Somerset food.