Quantock hills walking vacation, England

Description of Quantock hills walking vacation, England

A short walking break in William Wordsworth's 'other' country of the Quantock Hills in Somerset. He wrote: "Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roved unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combes". This was the first part of England to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Quantocks feature broad, smooth ridges with airy vistas, and thickly-wooded coombes that fall away gently down to exquisite villages.

Our aim is to make your break as memorable as possible in countryside you will never forget, combining fresh air with exercise, tranquility and beauty, and insight into the area’s history and culture. Our carefully-crafted walks will leave you refreshed, relaxed and restored.

Enjoy

• expertly-crafted self-guided walks in some of England’s most beautiful countryside
• peace of mind knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched by the founders of the company, and tested by numerous walkers, so you can be sure you will not get lost! We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map in your pack with a waterproof map case
• routes through the most tranquil and beautiful scenery, well away from the crowds
• printed commentaries highlighting features of special interest to provide insight into the area’s history, culture and natural environment
• the freedom to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, visit places of interest on the way
• staying at Combe House Country Hotel, beautifully situated in four acres of tranquil gardens, with indoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis court and croquet lawn
• award-winning food from the Combe's locally-sourced menu and organic kitchen garden
• an enhanced sense of well-being that a few revitalising days of peace, fresh air, exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature will leave you refreshed, relaxed and restored

What to Expect

Grading of Walks: these routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk around 8 miles on varied hilly terrain for up to 4 hours with a break of approximately 1 hour for lunch. As this is hill country some ascents and descents are to be expected.

Accommodation: dinner, bed and breakfast at the privately-owned Combe Hotel Country Hotel in four acres of tranquil gardens, in a peaceful wooded valley in the heart of the Quantocks. From the award-winning restaurant, on a summer's evening you can catch sight of rabbits scampering in the hillside or deer emerging from the forest. The restaurant sources its food from local farms and fishermen, and the hotel's own organic kitchen garden. Combe Hotel has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis court and croquet lawn to keep you occupied when you are not walking!

Travel Information

By rail: trains twice an hour from London Paddington to Bridgewater (2.75 hours); the hotel is 11 miles from the station.

By road: total mileage from central London: 157 miles (2.75 hours). Ample car parking at the hotel.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrive at Combe House Country Hotel, read through your walking pack, and enjoy a delicious locally-sourced dinner.
Day 2From the hills to the shore: Take a short drive to one of Wordsworth's 'exquisite villages': Tudor East Quantoxhead, quintessentially English with manor house, church, duck-pond and village green. You will walk up past sparkling streams and through combes and woodlands alive with birdsong to one of Wordsworth's 'airy ridges'. You'll reach Bicknoller Point, an open heather-covered moorland with sensational views to the Somerset Levels, Bristol Channel and Welsh coast. Roe and red deer, horses and sheep graze and roam freely. This part of the Quantocks is very much Wordsworth's 'other' country as he and his sister, Dorothy, lived at Alfoxton, which is on route. After lunch at The Hood Arms at Kilve - a 17th century coaching inn - an entirely contrasting landscape features two medieval churches, chapel ruins, industrial relics and fine views of the coast. You'll return to East Quantoxhead with the option of tea. (Grade: moderate - 9 miles)
Day 3:Secret combes and lofty ridges: Today you'll walk straight from the Combe House hotel, winding up Holford Combe along the whaleback ridge which forms the backbone of the Quantocks, through delightful wooded glades to expansive panoramas and views to the Brendon Hills and Exmoor, the Mendips and Blackdown. Your walk incorporates sections of the new Coleridge Way, named after Wordsworth's fellow romantic poet, Samuel Coleridge, who lived at Nether Stowey nearby. Coleridge frequently roamed these hills with Wordsworth where he wrote his best-known works: Kubla Khan, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Frost at Midnight and Christabel. (Grade: moderate - 7-8 miles)

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Quantock hills walking vacation, England

Environment

Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking clients is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we recommend local transport companies to reach the start of the walk. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We hotel we recommend on this break employs local people and prepare meals from locally sourced produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.

Community

We endeavour to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local economy. In recommending lunch at local restaurants we are promoting establishments which employ staff from the local rural community.

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from a railway station. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we often employ local minibus and taxi companies. Over the years we bring repeat business to them.

Bringing people to a new region, arranging their accommodation and food, transporting them from place to place, walking the ancient footpaths, visiting their pubs and teaching through carefully-researched commentaries something about the area’s rich history, culture and folk law, has the effect of giving people a sense of community with the place. People often return on their own or with friends, visit the same pubs and renew their sense of being at one with the beautiful local countryside.

Landscape

This carefully-researched and crafted walking vacation in a special landscape of the UK, promotes appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

We walk in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

We share knowledge about features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may explain about a national trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

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