7 trips in Somerset to enjoy this summer
PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 April 2016
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Clamber aboard a steam train or set sail to the islands near Weston-super-Mare this summer. Here are some outings you can enjoy during your stay in North Somerset.
For those with sea legs, a boat trip to the island which graces the horizon of Weston’s seafront provides a fascinating day out. Steep Holm is a privately-owned island in the Bristol Channel, five miles from Weston’s beach. It is managed by a small group of trustees which runs scheduled small boat trips in the summer months for fairly-agile tourists, as the terrain is rough and the island is accessed via a gang-plank. The island is a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest and houses the remains of several buildings, including a 12th century Augustinian priory and Victorian fortifications. The former barracks have been restored as a visitor centre with café.
For those not-so-agile, MW Marine operates ferry crossings around Steep Holm to take in the sheer 200ft cliffs, sea caves and gull and cormorant colonies. The 100-seater vessel, Westward Ho!, then lands for a seven-hour stop on the similar island of Flat Holm. Island wardens take offer tours of the Victorian army barracks, which is now a museum, the island’s pub The Gull & Leek, lighthouse and cannons. The company also operates a cruise around Brean Down and fishing trips on Flat Holm.
Drift away to a bygone era by hopping aboard a steam train and enjoying a trip across the Somerset levels and around the beautiful Devon coastline on one of the most enchanting railway journeys in the world. The Torbay express operates different stops on its scheduled Sunday outings, and this year will be stopping in Weston on July 10, August 7 and September 4.
Strawberry Line. Jump on your bike or hire one and traverse the 10-mile traffic-free Strawberry Line Heritage Trail through the heart of North Somerset, linking the Levels to the Mendip Hills. Part of the Great Western Railway, the Strawberry Line was completed in 1869 and became an important route for passengers and freight carrying dairy produce, stone, and the famous Cheddar strawberries from which it takes its name. The line was closed in 1965 and has since been reclaimed by nature, being managed to protect and enhance a rich variety of wildlife habitats from ponds and wetlands to limestone grassland and dense scrub.
Weston seafront and Cheddar Gorge both operate regular open-top bus tours during the summer months. Top up your tan as you explore in style.
Don a pirate costume and sail down the Avon Gorge in a replica of the English ship that discovered North America in 1497. The Matthew is permanently moored alongside the M Shed museum on Princes Wharf, in Bristol’s Floating Harbour, where visitors can look around and talk to the knowledgeable volunteers, or if you pre-book you can take a trip around the harbour, down the river or even out to sea.
Another steam train journey, which runs from the pretty village of Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton to the seaside at Minehead. Enjoy 20 miles of glorious Somerset scenery as the train gently rolls back the years on its branch line journey through the Quantock Hills and along the Exmoor Coast. There are 10 restored stations along the route, each with their own individual charm and character; many have signal-boxes, engine sheds, museums, displays, steam engines and other rolling stock to see.