Quantock Hills AONB

Kilve, Quantock Hills AONB, Somerset, England
Kilve, Quantock Hills AONB © http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk

Quantock Hills – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in Somerset in south west England. The Quantock Hills were the first designated AONB back in 1957, the area covers just under 100 square kilometres and is one of the most compact AONBs measuring just under 20 km in length and 6 km in width. The area is well known for its heathland, woodland, wildlife habitats and varied landscapes.

The local population of approx 2,900 live in local villages located across the AONB such as Alnmouth and Seahouses. The area covered under the AONB designation covers a relatively narrow area starting from East Quantoxhead in the north to Plainsfield in the east to Kingston St Mary in the south to Seven Ash in the west. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The key features and special qualities of the Quantock Hills AONB include the range of significant landscape areas especially for such a compact area, range of wildlife habitats, cultural heritage and historical sites and settlements including Fyne Court. The area is important for wildlife and habitats with a number of protected sites. The key features combined with the peace, tranquillity and natural beauty of the area makes the area special.

The main industries in the AONB include mixed farming, agriculture, forestry and tourism. The area is popular for visitors, for day trips, weekend breaks, longer stays and for recreational activities. There are a number of scenic historic villages located in the AONB, including Kingston St Mary, Crowcombe, Broomfield and East Quantoxhead. Main settlements located close by include Bridgwater, Taunton, Burham-on-Sea, Western-super-Mare & Tiverton.

The area is popular for outdoor activities including golf, angling, kiting, geocaching, hiking, wildlife watching, horse riding, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy some fine natural scenery, enjoying a range of landscapes and some inspiring views.

Quick Facts

Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1957

Population: 2,900 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 99

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): 3

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 49

Main Settlements close by: Bridgwater, Taunton, Burham-on-Sea, Western-super-Mare & Tiverton.

Located in: Somerset.


The Quantock Hills AONB is located in the county of Somerset in south west England. The Quantock Hills are located between the larger Exmoor National Park to the west and the Mendip Hills AONB to the east. The hills are located a few miles north of Taunton in Somerset and go up towards the west Somerset coastline. The tranquil area offers visitors a scenic oasis away from the traffic and congestion of the cities and towns. The area does not have as high a profile as some other AONBs and National Parks in the UK, however for those that do discover the area there are plenty of things to see, do and experience.

The AONB includes a number of small settlements, peace and tranquillity where visitors can experience some of the finest landscapes and scenery in England. The AONB area itself is sparsely populated with no major towns or cities falling within the AONB boundary, local settlements Broomfield and East Quantoxhead, there are a number of historic red sandstone villages that are brimming with character and charm.

The Quantock Hills AONB has a rich history and includes a historic Jurassic coastline in the north of the AONB, the area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Local towns located close to the AONB border include Bridgewater, Taunton, Tiverton and the coastal towns of Burham-on-Sea and Western-super-Mare. The local towns provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Quantock Hills AONB and surrounding areas.

The protection given to the area through its AONB status means the commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to help protect and maintain the special qualities of the area ensuring visitors can enjoy outstanding natural beauty and scenic landscapes in the Quantock Hills.

The location in the south west of England means the AONB is easily assessable from across the south west and south east of England, the Midlands, East of England and southern Wales. From Newcastle, Durham and much of north east England the area is 5 hours 30 minutes to 6 hours 30 minutes by car, from Leeds it is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours by car, from Birmingham and much of the Midlands it is 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes. From Liverpool and Manchester it is approx 4 hours. From Cardiff and southern Wales it is 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes by car. From London and much of southern England it is 3 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours 15 minutes away.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at various locations in close by to the Quantock Hills AONB. The are located at Taunton, Bridgwater, Western-super-Mare, Minehead, Wells, Cartgate, Chard, Yeovil, Glastonbury and Shipton Mallet close to the AONB. The tourist information centres can provide visitors with useful information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas.

Each of the centres has knowledgeable staff offering useful local knowledge with further information on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area. At the centres visitors can find out about local events, public transport options and accommodation facilities.

Local Accommodation includes a range of hotels including historic and contemporary, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Kilver, West Quantoxhead and Over Stowey. Towns located in the area including Taunton, Bridgwater and Western-super-Mare, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas in south west England.

The Quantock Hills AONB provides a place for visitors to explore a place of wilderness and natural beauty in southern England where it is possible to get away from it all and the stresses and strains of town and city life. Many of the villages in the AONB known for their historic red sandstone have preserved their history, traditions and heritage showcasing local history and culture. Visitors will find a number of local attractions and places of interest for visitors to explore further.

Local Villages include Broomfield located in 7 miles north of Taunton. Know for being the highest village in the Quantock Hills, the village is a fine place to enjoy a leisurely walk with quiet country lanes and scenic surroundings. Historic buildings of note include St Mary's & All Saints Church, dating back to the 14th to 15th centuries and is a Grade I listed building. Inside the church there is a 16th century chest and a octagonal font dating back to the 15th century. Other local attractions include Fyne Court.

Fyne Court is located 5 miles north of Taunton in Broomfield within the AONB. Owned by the National Trust it is a nature reserve and visitor attraction located in the heart of the Quantock Hills, the main building in the estate burnt down in the late 19th century, the remaining buildings are used as a visitor centre and offices. Visitors can learn more about the wild garden on a number of walks available, visitors can enjoy a relaxing stroll on the grounds that are part of a large 65 acres estate. Tours are available for visitors to learn more about the fascinating history of the house that includes Andrew Crosse, the best known resident of the house.

For children there are activities available to keep them amused including games in the courtyard, building a den or tree climbing. The courtyard include a tearoom where visitors can enjoy cream teas, hot chocolate, light lunches or ice cream in relaxing surroundings. The gardens offer something new in the changing seasons with snowdrops evident in February and bluebells and wild garlic in May.

Kingston St Mary is located a few miles north of Taunton at the southern edge of the Quantock Hills. The compact village includes the Village Hall that stages a number of local community events, a number of historical buildings are in evidence in the village including Bobbetts, thought to be of medieval origin. The Grange is a historic property that include grounds that are part o the Woodland Trust. The historic St Mary's Church dates back to the 13th century and is a Grade I listed building, inside the church there is a pulpit from the 18th century and a font from the 16th century. The church is also known for its selection of stained glass.

Holford is located 15 miles north of Taunton in the north of the AONB. Located on the River Holford, the scenic village offers visitors a picturesque place to enjoy the scenic surroundings. The history of the village dates back a long way and there have been Roman coins found in the village. St Mary the Virgin Church was built back in the 19th century, it is designated as a Grade II listed building, the churchyard is known for its wild flowers.

Local attractions include Alfoxton House is an 18th century country house located in Holford famous for poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy staying there for a year in the late 18th century. Over the years the house has been extended and tuned in to a country hotel and is designated as a Grade II listed building.

Other attractions include Holford Kelting located to the north of Holford, the nature reserve is on a 13 acres site run by the Somerset Wildlife Trust and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Ge-mare Farm Fields (SSSI) is located close by to Holford, just over 10 acres in size and includes nationally important habitats that are supported here.

West Quantoxhead is located 17 miles to the north of Taunton close to the northern edge of the AONB. Located close to the coastline in Somerset the compact village is located on the route of the Coleridge Way footpath. West Quantoxhead is also referred to as St Audries, the local St Audries beach is a place where visitors can enjoy the seaside with a sandy beach, rock pools, waterfall and a scenic setting.

Local attractions include St Audrie's Church dating back to the 19th century, know for its architecture, St Audrie's Manor is a historic house that has been used as a private girls school, a Buddhist centre and is currently a country house hotel.

Crowcombe is located 11 miles from Taunton in the heart of the Quantock Hills. The historic village has a long history and is mentioned in the Doomsday book, the village retains its character and charm and includes a number of historically significant buildings. Notable buildings include Crowcombe Court, an 18th century Grade I listed country house, built in an English baroque style. Halsway Manor is located close by, the 15th century manor house is the National Centre for Traditional Music, Dance and Song in England.

The Church of the Holy Ghost is a historic Grade I listed building, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. There is also a Church House built for parish functions, today it hosts social events and exhibitions.

Coleridge Cottage is located 11 miles north of Taunton in the village of Nether Stowey in Somerset. The historic cottage dates back to the 17th century and is a Grade II* listed building, the cottage is famous for being the home to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge for three years from 1797. During his time in Somerset Coleridge wrote some of his finest works regarded as important in the development of the literary romantic movement.

In recent years the cottage, owned by the National Trust has undergone a major redevelopment, visitors can see parts of the cottage that were previously not open to the public along with viewing a number of cottage rooms that have been carefully recreated and restored to show what they would have been like when the famous poet lived here. Visitors can enjoy a stroll in the cottage garden, there are a number of paths located in tranquil surroundings.

The shop includes a range of local produce and a choice of gifts, souvenirs and mementos. The courtyard tearoom offers a choice of fresh, local produce that includes hot and cold drinks, snacks, soups and cakes.

The Coleridge Way has been described as one of the finest walks in the UK, visitors can walk through lanes, wooden valleys and some wonderful vistas. The Coleridge Way is a 51 miles walk that takes visitors through the finest landscapes and countryside in the Quantock Hills in Somerset. Landscapes include heathland, moorland, woodland and historic villages along with some splendid views over both the North Somerset coast and on to Wales. The historic villages include traditional pubs and tearooms for a choice of refreshments and food options. The full 51 miles route can be completed in approx 6 days making for an ideal route for a walking holiday in the AONB.

Walking offers visitors one of the best and environmentally friendly ways to discover the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Quantock Hills AONB includes a choice of landscapes and terrain, with a number of footpaths and quiet lanes offering both shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities.

Walks include the Quantock Greenway with a northern and southern route that are 20 and 18 miles respectively, the Holford to Nether Stowey, a 3.9 mile linear walk and The Parson's Round, a 3 mile circular walk.

Cycling provides both a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Quantock Hills AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes and more challenging terrain making the area suitable for cycling. There are a number of cycle routes in the area these include the Quantock Circular Cycle Route.

Visitors to the Quantock Hills AONB in south west England will find a compact, quiet and scenic area full of character and historic charm known for heathland, woodland, varied landscapes and historic attractions. Visitors can explore a number of historic villages and towns in and around the AONB. A visit to the Quantock Hills with its rural charm and open spaces offer visitors peace and tranquillity along with some inspiring views.

How to Get There

Quantock Hills AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The county town of Taunton in Somerset is located a few miles from the southern edge of the AONB area and provides a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation, facilities and local amenities. Located approx 165 miles from central London. From London take the A4 then the M4 up to junction 20. Exit the M4 on to the M5 exit to Bristol (West). Continue on the M5 until junction 25 and exit on to the A358 to Taunton. Then take the A38 that goes towards Taunton. The approx journey time is 3 hours to 3 hour 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Taunton has regular services from London Paddington station. The journey time is approx 1 hours 50 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes, depending on service, connections and time of day.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Taunton. The approx journey time is 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. From Taunton visitors can local bus services to destinations within the AONB for more information on available local public transport see: Traveline. Coach services to Taunton are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Quantock Hills AONB
Fyne Court

Telephone: +44 (0)1823 451884

Website: Quantock Hills AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Quantock Hills (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Quantock Hills AONB in Somerset ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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