Explore the local area
Things to do when staying with us at The Old Vicarage Hotel.
Here at The Old Vicarage Hotel and Restaurant we are passionate about our surrounding area and supporting the Somerset and the South West’s tourism industry. There is a LOT more to do in and around Bridgwater than maybe initially meets the eye. Sited on the tidal River Parrett, nestled between the Mendip and Quantock Hills and the Somerset Levels, Bridgwater has a vibrant history.
Bridgwater is steeped in history and examples of its fine architecture reflecting its past glory as a busy port and commercial centre can be found in Castle Street, Kings Square and the Cornhill, which all exhibit wonderful Georgian craftsmanship.
Bridgwater’s location near an AONB, Exmoor National Park and various wildlife reserves, make it perfect for those who love being outdoors. Read on for ideas whilst staying in our wonderful corner of the world!
Bridgwater experienced many years as an industrial ‘boom town’, making it architecturally rich including areas designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, considered one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history, and who is reported to have stayed at The Old Vicarage whilst in Bridgwater. Recently the town has seen major improvements to infrastructure and housing due in-part to the on-going build of Hinkley Point C Power Station with much more in development.
The Quantock Hills
If you head west out of Bridgwater on the A39, within 25 minutes of getting in your car you’ll find yourself in a special landscape of panoramic views, wilderness and tranquility which leads you through coast, heath and combe.
A remarkable landscape, it was the first area in England to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) back in the Fifties. A ramblers paradise. The Quantocks needs a page entirely to itself and it’s coming soon to our blog along with more detailed posts surrounding the hand-picked areas and destinations you can read about below.
Minehead & Exmoor
Minehead is a beautiful town on the glorious rugged coastline of West Somerset. There is so much to see and do, making it ideal for walkers, riders, cyclists and adventure sport enthusiasts with lots of stunning walks especially on nearby Bossington Beach (dog friendly) and North Hill.
To add to your day, you can visit the beautiful Porlock Weir and have a delicious lunch in the local area at (ask Peter or Candy for more info) to finish off the morning of fresh air.
You could venture further on to the beautiful Lynton & Lynmouth or you can head back towards Minehead to the village of Dunster, which unless you drove with your head in a bucket, you couldn’t have failed to have missed the iconic 14th Century hillside fortress – an ancient castle turned comfortable country home with dramatic vistas and subtropical gardens. Spend the afternoon touring around the historical landmarks such as Dunster Butter Cross, Dunster Dovecote, Dunster Working Mill and of course, the beautiful Dunster Castle and gardens (National Trust).
Wells is stunning. Often described as England’s smallest city, it is actually second smallest to the City of London in area and population. Having city status since the medieval ages, determined purely due to it having one of England’s (if not the world’s) most beautiful cathedrals, it is full of rich history and life with plenty to see!
Of course, you can tour around Wells Cathedral and the largest parish church in Somerset, St Cuthberts Church. We recommend next on your tour of Wells, you go and visit The Bishops Palace and the beautiful gardens and dine at the amazing Bishop’s Table restaurant.
Wells market is on a Saturday and a Wednesday. It’s full of local crafts and delicious food. Some of the cheeses are really worth taking home. Wells’ historic architecture has led to the city being used as a shooting location for numerous films and television programmes.
If you are looking for a family day out with lots of attractions, then look no further than Wookey Hole which is a fantastic day out for the family with plenty of attractions and of course, the caves and the legendary Witch of Wookey Hole!
The city of Bath is a vibrant and wonderful place for all to enjoy. The main areas to visit would be The Roman Baths. The Roman Bath Museum is a fun and educational day out for everyone with its very own restaurant, so there is no rush to leave! This tour can be followed up with a 1-minute walk to Bath Abbey. We recommend taking the bus tour, the some of the guides patter is very amusing with lots of interesting anecdotes and you can get on and off at will.
Glastonbury & Street
Possibly the quirkiest town in England. Steeped in history, myth and the smell of incense.
Why not take the morning out for a bit of walking and sightseeing up Glastonbury Tor to see the stunning surroundings of Somerset. We recommend Tor’s Tour of the Tor. www.torstourofthetour.com (they also do a tour of Stonehenge). Follow this by a visit to Glastonbury Abbey and The Chalice Well.
Should this all sound too strenuous there are many interesting and quirky shops to nose about in. Get in touch with your inner Shaman! You could start the afternoon on the right note by having lunch in one of the many cafés in Glastonbury before making your way to Street for some retail therapy at Clarks Village with Marks and Spencer, Calvin Klein, North Face, Vans, Fat Face, Jack Wills, Trespass, The Body Shop to name just a few of the stores at the popular outlet village.
If you are looking for a lovely long walk or some exciting adventure, then Cheddar Gorge is for you. You can park at the Gorge to start your walk or you can simply go into the caves.
Cheddar also offers some stunning restaurants and cafes to enjoy some delightful refreshments before you can spoil yourselves with some retail therapy.
Montacute House & Barrington Court
We love these two stunning historical landmarks in the heart of Somerset. Both feature beautiful gardens, and both being built within 55 years of each other.
Montacute House holds the national collection of Elizabethan portraits in the long gallery and was used as the setting for Hilary Mantle’s Wolf Hall. The paintings are simply jaw dropping.
We would recommend starting at Montacute House and then make a 20-minute journey by car to Barrington Court where you can have another tour round some rich history and finish off in their gorgeous restaurant and walled orchards.
West Somerset Railway
West Somerset Railway, Somerset, is a heritage steam railway operating between Minehead and Bishop’s Lydeard, near Taunton.
It is the longest independent railway in Britain, (20 miles). It is great fun for a day out with a stop for lunch on the way.