Discovering the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Nestled between the Somerset Levels and the Bristol Channel coast, the Quantock Hills offer walkers and nature lovers a dramatic landscape of rounded hills, deep wooded combes, open heathland and rich history. This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a tranquil retreat from modern life, with sweeping views from its highest point at Will’s Neck across the Vale of Taunton to Exmoor.

The hills have been shaped over centuries by humans working the land, from ancient field systems to grazing sheep and cattle. Traces of these past uses can be found in the form of ancient earthworks and remains of industrial buildings now disappearing back to nature. Meandering lanes lined with high hedgerows lead to pretty villages with cottages of red sandstone, whose materials were quarried locally.

This 20-mile-long ridge has the feel of wilderness, where deer, birds of prey and other wildlife can be spotted. The open heaths are carpeted in purple heather and yellow gorse in summer. Ancient oak woodlands cling to the steep combes, or valleys, with carpets of bluebells in spring. For those seeking inspiration or tranquillity, the Quantocks offer a peaceful getaway.

This article contains links to products and services that I think you will find useful. I may earn a commission on any purchases you make at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more HERE

This post was written in collaboration with Unique hideaways which provides beautiful places to stay in unique locations across the UK.

Things to do in the Quantock Hills

Tucked away from the bustle of towns, the Quantock Hills offer a peaceful getaway dedicated to the enjoyment of nature and the great outdoors. The nearest large towns are Bridgwater, Taunton and Minehead, each about a 45-minute drive away. Within the hills themselves are scenic villages, but no major settlements. This creates a remote feel perfect for escaping urban life.

Will’s Neck

At 384 metres, Will’s Neck is the highest point in the Quantocks, offering panoramic views across Somerset and North Devon. On a clear day, it’s possible to see as far as Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Blackdown Hills and Wales.

The best way to reach the summit is via a 3-mile circular walk from the village of Aisholt, following quiet country lanes before joining a footpath through beech woods. Emerging from the trees, the trail climbs steadily uphill over springy heather moorland.

Look out for the remains of ancient hill forts and barrows along the ridgeline. The open summit provides welcome relief from the trees, a perfect spot for a picnic while soaking up expansive vistas across five counties.

Nether Stowey

With its picturesque cottages and village cross, Nether Stowey provides a wonderful base for exploring the Coleridge Way trail through the Quantocks.

Coleridge Cottage is where the poet once lived and worked on some of his most famous poems, including ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Nearby is Lime Street, a row of traditional cottages and shops lining the village’s oldest road.

The 16th-century St Mary’s Church contains monuments and carved bench ends dedicated to Coleridge. Nether Stowey Castle was once a Norman motte-and-bailey castle but now lies in ruins with just the earthworks remaining. It is a short walk from the centre of the village.

Dead Woman’s Ditch

This ancient earthwork located between West Bagborough and Nether Stowey makes for an atmospheric walk steeped in legend. The defensive ditch and bank dates from the Iron Age, but its sinister name refers to a more recent tale.

As the story goes, a local squire murdered his wife here in the 18th century, only for her ghost to haunt the site seeking justice. Woodland now covers the site, providing welcome shade in summer. Listen for buzzards calling overhead and look out for deer in the trees.

Local legends say the ghostly apparition of a woman in white has been spotted drifting between the trees near dusk. Whether true or not, Dead Woman’s Ditch’s tragic backstory makes for an evocative walk through history in atmospheric woodland and out onto open moorland.

Fyne Court

For family-friendly woodland walks, head to Fyne Court estate between Broomfield and Williton. Once the site of a Cistercian abbey, the estate’s 18th-century manor house and grounds were acquired by the National Trust in 1948.

While the house remains private, the public can explore the gardens and wider estate. The area features picturesque ponds fed by small streams, framed by gently rolling hills.

Nearby are two walking trails through the woods, clearly marked with different coloured arrows. The green trail follows a 1.2-mile accessible path over bridges and around a lake, while the blue trail climbs uphill for lovely views back over the estate.

Kilve Beach

Famous for its geological features, Kilve Beach stretches along the Quantock Hills’ northern coastline, overlooked by craggy cliffs. This is one of the best places in Somerset to hunt for fossils, especially ammonites, brachiopods and trilobites embedded in the rocks.

The flat rocky platform was once an ancient seabed, making it a treasure trove for prehistoric remains. The pebbles, cliffs and rock pools also provide plenty to explore on family beach adventures.

Look out for rare rock samphire clinging to the cliffs – this was once collected to flavour pickles. At low tide, you can continue walking east along the coast to Lilstock and beyond.

Facilities are limited to a small car park and toilets, so come prepared with refreshments. Due to the rocky shore and incoming tides, care should be taken when exploring this wild and beautiful stretch of coastline.

St Audrey’s Bay

This picturesque spot on the Quantock Hills’ western edge offers an idyllic blend of coast, countryside and history. The small secluded cove known as Audrey’s Bay lies below the tiny village of St Audries.

A path leads from the roadside down to a pebble beach framed by cliffs cloaked in oak woods. From here at low tide, you can access the sands of Doniford Bay. Behind the beach stands the interesting Grade 1 listed St Audries Church, built in the late 15th century with an impressive carved interior.

Above the bay is St Audries Falls, where a stream cascades 15 metres into a plunge pool, shaded by ancient woodland. With its unspoilt coastal scenery, historic church and tranquil waterfall, St Audries Bay is one of the Quantocks’ many hidden gems waiting to be uncovered.

St Agnes Well

According to legend, this tranquil holy well near Goathurst village is said to have healing powers. The small stone-lined pool is fringed by trees and wildflowers, with a timeless, spiritual atmosphere.

Take the footpath from St Agnes Church and walk 15 minutes up the wooded hillside to find this peaceful spot. Local belief says that pinning a piece of cloth to an overhanging tree can help cure ailments. Set amid ancient woodland overlooking Goathurst, St Agnes Well has been a place of pilgrimage and quiet contemplation for centuries.

Places to stay in the Quantock Hills

Scattered across the Quantock Hills are traditional country pubs, cosy B&Bs, self-catering cottages or beautiful glamping spots ideal for getting away from it all. Most accommodation options are in picturesque villages like Holford, Nether Stowey and Bicknoller. Choices range from boutique hotels in historic buildings to campsites for pitching a tent under the stars.

Duck’s Puddle Shepherd’s Hut

This gorgeous little shepherd’s hut is located on a farm on the edge of the Quantock Hills. This little retreat has a hot tub and views out across the hills and is perfect for adventures with a dog as it has an enclosed, private garden.

© Unique hideaways

Lamb’s Tale Shepherd’s Hut

If Duck’s Puddle is not available then Lamb’s Tale Shepherds Hut is nearby. Equally beautiful I had to put one first and it was a lucky dip! Lamb’s Tale also has a hot tub and its own little garden. Surrounded by meadow and big skies this is the perfect place to wake up.

© Unique hideaways


For something completely different, Dulcie a restored wagon is the perfect cosy space for a weekend. Escape from the everyday with a fire and marshmallows while watching the stars, before snuggling down in the wagon with the wood burner to keep you cosy. This is a true off-grid stay with just enough power for charging and gentle lighting in the evenings.

© Unique hideaways

How to get to the Quantocks

The Quantock Hills are easily accessed from Junctions 23 and 24 of the M5 motorway. From Bridgwater, follow the A39 across the Somerset Levels into the foothills at Nether Stowey, about a 45-minute drive from the M5.

From Taunton, take the A358 through the Vale of Taunton Deane towards Williton. Smaller villages such as Bicknoller and Aisholt are reached via narrow rural lanes off the A358.

While most villages have some parking, larger car parks can be found at major attractions like Fyne Court, Lydeard Hill and Will’s Neck for easier access to trails. Bus routes connect main villages but travel within the Quantocks is easiest by car.

Other beautiful places to explore in Somerset

  • Exmoor National Park almost merges with the western edge of the Quantocks. This was the first National Park in the UK and has high moorland that drops down rugged cliffs to the sea.
  • The Somerset Levels lie between the Quantock Hills and the Mendip Hills and are an area of reclaimed marshland that is a haven for wildlife.
  • The Mendip Hills can be seen from the Quantocks on a clear day and lie across the flat levels. This limestone ridge is full of caves and gorges that can be explored with beautiful walks.
  • Looking north up the Bristol Channel from Kilve you will see the large lump of Steep Holm island, home to gulls and peregrine falcons. A memorable adventure in the summer months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *