The Quantock Hills

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 National Landscapes in Europe. 

A landscape that has huge historical, cultural, and environmental significance, the Quantock Hills in Somerset has long been a place for wanderers 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 thanks to its protected status, which was granted in 1956, discovering the beauty of the Quantock Hills AONB is still as appealing as ever. One of the rarest environments in Europe, the Quantocks’ heathland plays a vital role in the area’s ecology and provides a beautiful backdrop for adventures. Some of the most majestic residents are the red deer (the largest mammal in Britain), which can often be seen on the heath at dawn or dusk, as can the very cute Quantock ponies. 

From heathland walks to meals in cosy pubs, here are just some of things you can look forward to in the Quantocks.

Places to Eat and Drink

Combe House, Holford

Image by Combe House in Holford of the pretty pub exterior in the sunshine

Whether you’re looking forward to a warming lunch with a glass of Somerset cider, an atmospheric evening dinner with a bottle of bubbles, or a tailored menu for a private celebration, Combe House in Holford village has something for you. Using the best suppliers from West Somerset, this restaurant celebrates the county and the seasons with mouth-watering dishes crafted by its passionate team of chefs.

The Hood Arms, Kilve

Image by the Hoods Arms in Kilve of plated food including belly pork

A historic coaching inn, the 17th Century Hood Arms pub has been welcoming hungry travellers for hundreds of years. Situated on the fringes of the Quantock Hills in the village of Kilve, it awaits with a suntrap beer garden in summer and roaring log fires in winter. Step across its original flagstone floors and take a seat, ready to peruse its menu of hearty pub grub offerings and seasonal specials.

Quantock Brewery, Bishops Lydeard

Image by Quantock Brewery in Bishop Lydeard of the brewery exterior in the sunshine with punters sat around sun-kissed tables

Founded in 2007 by Rob Rainey, a former nuclear engineer, Quantock Brewery’s philosophy is all about brewing the best quality beers from the best quality ingredients. From their CAMRA and SIBA accredited microbrewery, they produce award-winning beers that have won medals in the prestigious World Beer Awards. Head over to their brewery and taproom to sample your favourites and head away with a bottle or three.

The Bicknoller Inn, Bicknoller

Image by Bicknoller Inn of the white-washed façade of the pub in the Quantocks

A thatched pub equally as full of character as history, the dog-friendly Bicknoller Inn is a beloved choice among visitors and locals alike. Welcoming everyone from families to walkers to roadtrippers, it provides a welcome spot for wholesome repasts and tasty pick-me-ups. Entertaining all generations, the pub is complete with a cobblestone courtyard, large garden, boules court and an indoor skittle alley.

The Plough Inn, Holford

Image by the Plough Inn, Holford, of the pub garden with sunny seating area and sofa

The Plough Inn is situated in the picturesque village of Holford, which was one of William Wordsworth’s favourite places to visit. On the edge of Hodders Combe, a wooded valley perfect for hiking, it is a particularly popular pub amongst walkers of both the two and four-legged variety. As well as its tempting foodie menu for humans, this dog-friendly pub even has its own little doggy menu, too.

The Foxy Bean Café, Adscombe

Image by the Foxy Bean Cafe in Adscombe of cakes and treats on the cafe counter

Come rain or shine, you just can’t beat a wedge of cake and a cup of tea after a day in the fresh, country air. If you feel like treating your tastebuds and fuelling your soul, make way to the Foxy Bean Café, a quirky tearoom at the foot of the Quantock Hills. Serving simple light bites, speciality hot drinks and a wide range of cakes and bakes, this café has something for everyone.  

The Swan at Kingston, Kingston St Mary

 A delicious Sunday roast meal

The quintessential English village pub, the 17th Century Swan at Kingston beckons with log fires, open beams, brimming cups and heaped plates. Well-known for their delightful Sunday lunches, the pub serves up flavoursome dishes of classic British favourites, all accompanied by an extensive selection of drinks from the well-stocked bar. Food is served from Wednesday to Sunday and the pub is dog-friendly throughout.


Cothelstone Hill: Seven Sisters

Cothelstone Hill, aka Seven Sisters, in the Quantocks Hills

Also known as the Seven Sisters, Cothelstone Hill is one of the best places to visit in the Quantocks for its uninterrupted views, incredible wildlife and fascinating history. Graced by Exmoor ponies and peppered with prehistoric monuments, it boasts something to see at every turn. Pick up the 2.5-mile Cothelstone Hill walk for daytime exploration, or head back to this Dark Sky Site after hours for unparalleled stargazing opportunities.

Kilve Beach

Reflections on Kilve Beach in the Quantocks, Somerset

Tucked in the coastline between Minehead and Bridgwater is the “delightful shore” (as described by William Wordsworth) of Kilve Beach. A rocky beach indented with shallow pools and backed by grassy banks, this dog-friendly beach is a firm favourite amongst rock poolers and fossil hunters. While picking fossils out of the cliffs is banned to protect this SSSI, you may be lucky enough to find a Jurassic gem hidden along the shore.

West Somerset Railway

Image of the West Somerset Railway steam train at a station

The longest heritage railway in England, the West Somerset Railway offers passengers of all ages the chance to enjoy a memorable ride through beautiful countryside and coast. Stopping off at ten stations in Somerset and the Quantocks, this peaceful journey allows you to sit back and soak up views as far as South Wales, as well as glimpses of local landmarks too. Look out for views of Minehead’s Strand Beach, Dunster Castle, the Quantock Hills, Exmoor, Bristol Channel and more as you go.

Fyne Court

Fyne Court

An arboretum and wildlife garden in the heart of the Quantock Hills, the National Trust-run Fyne Court is a real hidden gem. Once the grounds of a grand Georgian mansion (that was sadly lost to fire in 1894), the gardens now afford an adumbral sanctuary in which to wander waymarked trails and enjoy abundant flora and fauna. Learn about the history of the estate in Fyne Court’s information room, take the kids to build a den in the outdoor play area, and enjoy a cup of tea in the Courtyard Café.

Things to Do

Fossil Hunting

Coastal scenes overlooking Kilve Beach in the Quantocks, Somerset

One of the best places to visit in Somerset and the Quantock Hills for fossil hunting is the section of coast between Kilve and East Quantoxhead. Amongst the amazing fossil finds, ammonites can often be discovered along the rocky foreshore of the coast, as well as rarer and more unusual prizes like fossilised marine reptiles. With rocks here dating back 200 million years, you really will be holding history in your hands.


 Image of Cannington Golf Course in Somerset with the setting sun

Should you feel like practising your swing, Cannington Golf Course lies just beyond the outer reaches of the Quantocks AONB and is regularly hailed as one of the best courses in the South West. Beginner-friendly, it offers something for all abilities of golfers with its 18-hole golf course, driving range and swing studio. If you’d like a few pointers, golf lessons are also available at Cannington, perfect if you’d like to refine your technique and take your playing to the next level.


Countryside scenes in the Quantock Hills, Somerset

The Quantock Hills AONB and surrounds are home to some of the prettiest villages in the West Country. Photogenic subjects for the lens, they provide lots of inspiration for photography with their picture-postcard aesthetics, lined with historic houses and idyllic thatched cottages. Bishops Lydeard, Bicknoller, and East Quantoxhead are particularly well-known for their attractive buildings and quiet lanes, which you can explore at your own pace. The latter, East Quantoxhead, boasts an old courthouse with a Medieval tower (as well as an Iron Age hill fort and Bronze Age burial chambers. The village of Nether Stowey resides just outside of the Quantocks and is also worth a visit for its castle. The remnants of a Medieval motte and bailey fortification, Stowey Castle is a must for all history-lovers.


Beautiful heather and gorse in the Quantocks, Somerset

There are lots of amazing walks in the Quantocks. For panoramas over heathland and the Quantocks, both Lydeard Hill and Staple Plain offer some of the best views in the Quantocks, while for long-distance treks, the Coleridge Way affords 51 miles of gorgeous scenery. For walkways betwixt tangled branches and creaking trunks, head to the beautiful woodlands that pepper this AONB, such as Woodland Hill and Great Wood – originally a Royal hunting forest before its oak trees were used for shipbuilding in the 1800s. 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 walks, the Quantock Hills AONB is also a firm favourite for its incredible seascapes. 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 circular Kilve to East Quantoxhead walk shows off the coast’s rock formations and has great fossil finding opportunities, picnic spots and facilities along the way too.

Feeling inspired by the Quantocks? Take a look at our luxury retreats in Somerset here.

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