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Watchet, Somerset, maritime history colours every part of the town while the wild beauty of its coastline is untouched with ancient ammonite fossils lying on the shore, just waiting to be found.
Watchet port, in Somerset was highly valued by Alfred the Great, as he attempted to fend off the Vikings, and it even had its own mint, producing coins. Before that there was an Iron Age fort that has fragments still evident today. The port came into its own once again in the 19th century when iron ore from the nearby Brendon Hills was exported to Wales. In 2000, the harbour was converted into a modern Marina. Watched over on one side by the 150 year old lighthouse and on another by a statue of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, the quay makes for an interesting stroll with views across the Bristol Channel. Several boats offer fishing trips.
There are plenty of other walks around Watchet, from day long rambles along parts of the Coleridge Way, The Mineral Line or the West Somerset Coastal Path, to shorter circular saunters in the surrounding countryside. For details on walks visit the Tourist Information Centre.
The West Somerset Railway, brought here by Brunel, stops at the picturesque station in Watchet, next to the Marina and town centre. Passengers can spend time in one of the many bars and cafes or visit one of the Museums before resuming their journeys. The Market House Museum covers the fascinating history of a town where kings, queens, murderous knights, pirates, saints and even a famous singing sailor have their stories to tell. The Boat Museum houses an intriguing collection of local flat bottomed boats.
The town is packed with independent shops full of antiques, vintage, craft and gifts. There are various art shops and galleries throughout the town as well as East Quay, a gallery and artist studios with restaurant and places to stay on the harbourside.
Watchet is lucky enough to have not one but two beaches. To the east of the harbour you’ll find Helwell Bay, rich in fossils - ammonites, bi-valves and ‘Devil’s Toe Nails’. West Street beach has a wonderful old boating lake, extraordinary rock formations with quartz and alabaster running through them, as well as plenty of rock pools to explore. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the resident Peregrine Falcons along with Oyster Catchers and Egret.
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