Walking

The Quantock Hills

Home to coast, heath and combe, the Quantock Hills’ distinctive landscapes, cultural heritage and diverse flora and fauna make it one of the most unique AONBs in Europe. 

A landscape that has both huge, historical, cultural and environmental significance, the Quantock Hills has long been a place for weary minds to seek repose and inspiration. In fact, just over 200 years ago, it was the playground and muse of some of the UK’s most celebrated poets:  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Dorothy Wordsworth. Hurrying into the hills, they discovered a world of unparalleled natural beauty with valleys, heath, woodlands, streams and hilltops from which to conceive some of their most famous works.  

Still largely undeveloped thank to its protected status, which was granted in 1956, walking within the Quantock Hills AONB is still as captivating as ever. Starting your discovery inland, you can first explore some of the heathland. One of the rarest environments in Europe, the Quantocks heathland plays a vital role in the area’s ecology, providing essential habitat for all manner of flora and fauna. Some of the most majestic residents, red deer (the largest mammal in Britain) can often be seen on the heath at dawn or dusk, as can the very cute Quantock ponies. 

For views of the heathland and Quantocks, both Lydeard Hill and Staple Plain are great places to visit, or for walkways betwixt tangled branches and creaking trunks, head to the beautiful woodlands that pepper this AONB. Originally a Royal hunting forest before its oak trees were used for shipbuilding in the 1800s, Great Wood is today a haven for both people and wildlife. For birdwatchers, Sessile Wood is a real gem too, home to wood warblers, pied flycatchers, three species of woodpecker and many more feathered beauties.

Not just promising inland adventurers, the Quantock Hills AONB is also a firm favourite for its incredible seascapes as it merges with part of the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline. Emerging from heath and woodlands, you can explore beaches peppered with some of the finest fossils in Europe. A particularly great walk to take if you’re interested in geology (or just want to admire the views!), the 1.5km circular Kilve to East Quantoxhead shows off the coast’s rock formations and has great fossil finding opportunities, picnic spots, tearooms and facilities along the way too.

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