Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
One visit to the Quantock Hills is enough for anyone to realise why in 1956 they were created Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – in terms of landscape quality a ranking just below that of national park.
Consisting of hard red sandstone that was formerly quarried for road surfacing they run for 12 miles inland from the Bristol Channel coast at West Quantoxhead before dropping gently down to the Somerset Levels between Taunton and Bridgwater.
Their majestic slopes provide a dramatic backdrop to much of the landscape around Taunton but it’s the variety of scenery they offer that makes them quite so special, from the high windswept moorland plateau covered with heather and whortleberries – wild blueberries- to the deeply-incised wooded combes, or valleys, plunging down their sides.
On a fine day their summit offers breathtaking views from Exmoor to the Malverns, the Brecon Beacons to the Dorset Downs.
The Quantock Hills are home to a herd of wild red deer as well as an abundance of other wildlife and are now encircled by a walking trail.
The Romantic poets loved the Quantocks. William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, were frequent visitors while Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s cottage home in Nether Stowey is now owned by the National Trust and his residency here is celebrated in the 51-mile Coleridge Way which ends in Porlock, where he was staying when he wrote Kubla Khan in 1797 – the epic was never finished because Coleridge’s flow of verse was interrupted by the arrival of ‘a person from Porlock’.
Other notable residents have included Andrew Crosse, an early pioneer of electricity and whose home at Fyne Court, near Broomfield, is now the main visitor centre for the hills.
For more information on the area, please contact our Visitor Information Centre in Taunton.
Tags: Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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