Are you looking for things to do in the Quantock Hills? Read on, as I’m about to go into all of them!
When people ask me about lesser-known places to visit in South West England, the Quantock Hills spring into mind.
A series of gently rolling hills ultimately giving way to the Bristol Channel, the Quantock Hills were actually England’s first AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) – they achieved this status in 1956.
However, they are often overshadowed by Exmoor National Park, their neighbour, and Dartmoor National Park which sits to the southwest.
While the Quantock Hills don’t quite have the same rugged and wild atmosphere as Devon’s moorland, they have a unique charm, part of which is due to the fact that not that many people know about them!
So let’s take a look at this beautiful hidden gem in Somerset!
Where are the Quantocks?
The Quantock Hills are located on the coast of West Somerset/ South Somerset.
Because of Somerset’s size, this area is actually the north coast of the peninsula that consists of Cornwall, Devon and part of Somerset.
Things to do in the Quantock Hills
Kilve Beach is one of my favourite beaches in Somerset (it’s day-trip-able from Bath and Bristol too). It’s part of the Somerset Jurassic Coast, which is less famous than the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Dorset and Devon, but still equally interesting!
Here, you can go fossil hunting for ammonites and even fossilised marine reptiles.
Some of these date up to 200 million years.
The best time to do this is just after low tide, as waves can stir up fossils that are hiding under rocks.
Furthermore, there are lots of rock pools here, where you can see some of the coastline’s best living creatures!
Alternatively, walk along the low cliffs and take in spectacular panoramic views of the sea and coastline.
There’s a small car park by the beach, and it’s pay and display cash only. Make sure you have a few coins before heading here!
Kilve to East Quantoxhead Walk
You can walk along the rocky Jurassic Coastline to explore some more of the beach. This area isn’t part of the South West coastal path, but it’s well-connected.
From Kilve Beach, just walk in a westerly direction towards Quantoxhead Beach. It’s about 0.6 miles or 1 kilometre away and should take around 12 minutes.
From here, you can go straight south to East Quantoxhead, or continue following the path to see more of the coast.
The path continues west before turning in a southerly direction. It takes around 44 minutes (2.2 miles/ 3.5 kilometres) to walk to East Quantoxhead village on this route.
For a longer walk, try the Coleridge Trail – or at least the part that runs through the Quantocks!
The long-distance walking trail is 51 miles long and takes most people 6 days to complete.
It’s named after Samuel Coleridge, a famous poet who loved the beautiful hills.
It is mostly in Exmoor, but the Quantocks section runs from Nether Stowey to Bicknoller, through the northern part of the Quantocks Hills. This segment is just over nine miles long.
Of course, you can expect amazing views from many points of the trail, and the Quantocks section is incredibly scenic.
If you have time, why not continue and see some of the trail in Exmoor too?
Owned and looked after by the National Trust, Fyne Court is a garden and nature reserve where you can learn all about the Quantocks.
It’s a must-visit first stop before seeing other parts of the hills!
The estate used to be owned by the Crosse family, but their house was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1894.
The information room details a little about the family, and there are some well-signposted wooded walks around the estate.
One of the best areas in the Quantocks for nature lovers, Woodland Hill is one of the most popular wooded valleys in the region.
Situated near Holford, there’s a 1.8 mile loop walk that you can do here. You’ll explore the wood itself, and then come out to the top of the hill where you can take in vistas of the surrounding scenes.
West Somerset Railway
The West Somerset Railway is one of the best steam trains in the country.
Running around the side of the Quantocks, you’ll see the AONB from another angle as you journey from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, stopping at Watchet on the way.
It’s a pleasure train – not intended to get from A to B very quickly, but if you want the experience of travelling on a vintage rail and a way to see some of the region’s best scenery, it’s ideal.
Beacon Hill and Staple Plain Walk
This is one of the most popular walks in the Quantocks, and it’s easy to see why. A simple two mile route, it first takes you into Staple Plain, where you can enjoy natural flora, and then leads out onto Beacon Hill.
You might see wild ponies grazing here; keep walking, and you’ll eventually reach a gorgeous point with coastal views.
The views are immense!
Visit the Quantock Brewery
Once you’ve explored the natural wonders of the AONB, head to the brewery for a local drink.
It dates back to 2007 and was born out of a love for creating beer from natural, local ingredients.
The Taproom and Shop have 6 Rotating QB Cask Ales, 14 Rotating QB Craft Kegs and a range of guest beers.
So you can enjoy a few local drinks here or if you’re driving, you can also buy some beers to takeaway.
They’re open from around 11 am to 5 pm Sundays and 9/10 pm on other days.
Quantocks towns and villages to visit
Although the Quantock Hills are a largely rural area, there are some attractive villages and towns in the Quantock hills area.
These are great places to stay, and you can also take day or half-day trips to these towns.
Watchet is a picturesque village with a beautiful beach.
Watchet Harbour has been a trading centre since medieval times when coins were minted here.
Stroll around the charming streets lined with colourful buildings and see the charming boats bobbing on the harbour.
There’s not a crazy amount of things to do in Watchet, but it’s a really charming town to pop into and explore for an afternoon!
The county town of Somerset, Taunton sits to the east of the Quantocks.
It’s home to the Museum of Somerset, which is a fantastic place to learn a little more about Somerset life.
There are also a few lovely restaurants and cafes to enjoy while you’re in town, plus quite a lot of historic buildings.
And I also love walking up and down the charming Taunton to Bridgwater canal.
One of the biggest towns in Somerset is Bridgwater.
It’s worth checking out the Bridgwater Arts Centre, Bridgwater Blake Museum and this end of the Taunton to Bridgwater Canal.
Minehead is a jolly coastal town with a fantastic holiday atmosphere.
Take a stroll down the seafront (and join the South West Coast Path at the end, where you can hike to Porlock!), play a round of crazy golf and enjoy the West Somerset Railway.
Bicknoller is a charming village with thatched roof cottages, a 12th-century church, and a village pub. It’s a small place, but it’s well worth visiting while you’re exploring the area!
Holford is a tiny village – it won’t take long at all to explore – but it’s really scenic, and it’s worth stopping here and going for a stroll.
Another small Quantocks village, West Quantoxhead incorporates a church, historic manor house, a pub and old village school.
St Audries Beach, a sweeping bay with broad sands and crashing waves, is right by as well!
East Quantoxhead is, as the name suggests, in the east part of the Quantocks.
It’s close to Kilve Beach and East Quantoxhead Beach (you can walk here from Kilve Beach).
It’s a charming historical village, with traditional thatched roof cottages and country roads lined with trees.
Dunster is more in Exmoor than the Quantocks, but it’s well worth visiting while you’re in the region.
It’s a traditional village with an ancient castle, with plenty of architecture dating back to the Medieval period.
See Dunster castle, shop in the independent stores and discover the town’s history at the Dunster museum. You can also make the short trip out to Dunster Beach.
Where to stay in the Quantock Hills
Combe House Hotel is a charming room with boutique decor with ornate features.
The bathrooms are deluxe and modern. A fantastic breakfast is served each morning and there’s space to enjoy an afternoon tea on-site. It’s situated in scenic Holford. Click here for more information.
The Hood Arms is a cosy accommodation situated right by Kilve Beach. Rooms are spacious, with comfortable beds and luxury linen. The bathrooms have deluxe features – some even have roll-top baths!
A delicious breakfast is served every morning, and the pub offers a great feed and plenty of drinks in the nighttime. Click here to read more about it.
How to get to the Quantocks
Unfortunately, bus routes in this part of Somerset are sparse, railways only go as far as Taunton, and the best way to see the Quantocks is, by far, to drive.
To get there, take junction 23 of the M5 and follow the M39 in a westwards direction.
How to get around the Quantocks
Again, there aren’t many Quantocks Hills buses, although you can check out bus schedules here.
However, the best way to get around the Quantock Hills is definitely by driving.
Are the Quantocks worth visiting?
Yes, the Quantocks is definitely worth visiting!
With gently rolling hills, an ancient coastline with fossils and charming villages with thatched roof cottages and local pubs, there’s so much to enjoy here.
Plus, it’s a very non-touristy part of Somerset, which means that you’ll often enjoy it without hordes of tourists – even in the peak summer season.