This page will build up into a list of some places that my sister and I like to visit when we're out and about on the Somerset Levels.
Restaurants, cafés and pubs
These are mostly vegetarian and vegan, because so are Hannah and I.
- [new] The Music Pantry (vegan), Wedmore. An atmosphere that makes you feel at home, enthusiastic and welcoming staff, and delicious, balanced food. Record sleeves and music-themed art decorates the place, there's a well-chosed playlist on in the background, and a programme of live events always coming up.
- Rainbows End (vegetarian), Glastonbury. Healthy home-made vegetarian food in the middle of Glastonbury, with a conservatory and garden out the back. Lots of vegan and gluten-free food. Afterwards check out the shops in the town (for example, there are two Viking shops, Wyrdraven and Midgard). If that's not your thing, climb the Tor, take in the view of the local landscape crossed with ley-lines, and then chill out in the gardens surrounding the Chalice Well spring.
- The Sheppey Inn, Lower Godney. Lovely pub out in the middle of the Levels. The staff are friendly, the food is very nicely prepared and tastes great, the place has eclectic character, and they have regular DJ and band nights (also on Mixcloud). The place has a hip, chilled-out kind of atmosphere. The back looks out onto the River Sheppey, and you can watch it flow gently by as you eat or drink. Our recommendation: Go for a walk on a nearby nature reserve and drop in here for lunch.
- Not quite a restaurant, café or pub, but there's also plenty of cider farms. Wilkins Cider in Mudgley is one of the best — a working farm with a cider barn and a great place to sit in the sun drinking and looking over the levels.
- The Avalon Marshes has several good nature reserves to explore. Shapwick Heath is my favourite. You can explore meadows, woods and reedbeds with bitterns, otters and starlings. Adjacent to it is Ham Wall, a wetland nature reserve with lots of little paths and hides. It has views across the Avalon Marshes to Glastonbury Tor, the legendary hill overlooking the Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. It's possible to walk most of the way to Glastonbury through Ham Wall. Great for birdwatching and wildlife. If you're visiting between October and March, and fancy a natural spectacle about an hour before dusk, you can ring the Starling Hotline to find out where yesterday's murmuration was. Afterwards, depending on the way you're heading back, you can go to The Ashcott in Ashcott or The Duck in Burtle for a drink and some food.
- Dundon Beacon is another favourite reserve near to Glastonbury. Winding paths through ancient woodland, clearings with rope swings, unspoilt meadows full of butterflies in the summer and views of Sedgemoor for a long way. The hilltop was once occupied by an iron age fort. Given how pretty it is and how full of wildlife, it's surprising how few people you encounter on a typical walk there. You can part at St Andrews church with its ancient yew tree and walk up School Lane to get there, or there's a little car park along School Lane. Alternatively, if you walk down the road from the church, continuing a little further until you see a gate to a footpath. Walk onwards and upwards for fifteen minutes or so to Lollover Hill. It's probably the best view/effort walk you'll do in Somerset.
- Cheddar Gorge is a good place to go for a craggy hilltop walk. We sometimes go and have lunch in Café Gorge.
- Brean Down is a natural pier out into the Bristol Channel, with a beach next to it. We go there to go kiting, but it can get crowded in summer with tourists driving their cars onto it. There's a little National Trust café there too, or a few hundred metres down the track, Brean Bird Garden has a less crowded café.
- The nearby Quantock Hills are beautiful, and Triscombe Stone is a great starting point for exploration, with a nearby peak at Wills Neck giving great views. Friends have recommended going horse riding or visiting The Rising Sun pub nearby, but we've not yet tried it out. Fyne Court is also a popular day out.
- In the other direction are the Mendip Hills, with Crook Peak the most western peak with a mountainous appearance and nice woods to walk through. From the top, look eastwards, and you can see the nearby summits of Compton Hill, Barton Hill and Wavering Down. There are views a long way in all directions over the Levels, the Bristol Channel and the Quantocks. Glastonbury Tor can be clearly seen. There are signposted loop walks of about three and a half hours, not including time for stopping at pubs, and a walk to the ancient wildlife-rich woodland of Kings Wood in Winscombe is well worth it. From there you can pick up the Strawberry Line cycle trail which stretches all the way from Shepton Mallet, through Wells and Cheddar, through the Mendips to the sea. We love walking around Dolebury Warren, Rowberrow Warren, and the other adjacent reserves, then dropping into the Swan for lunch.
- The seaside town of Weston-super-Mare is further north. We go here for a walk on the beach, either in the town or in nearby Uphill, and to eat out. Loves is a good, comfy vegetarian place. Good food, a laid-back atmosphere, shelves of books, and regular events in the evenings featuring independent films or live music. Less in the way of vegetarian food, but still nice, is Yo-Ji where you can watch Japanese food being prepared or try one of the bento boxes. Ebisu is also a good bet for Japanese food, in maybe a more casual setting, with a dozen vegan options.
- In Wells, at the Bishop's Palace there are landscaped gardens to walk around, but it's also pleasant to walk around the town and cathedral. We usually have lunch at The Good Earth, though there's lots of choice of places to eat. Not far out of Wells is Ebbor Gorge, where you can go on a steep gorge walk to be rewarded with great views at the top.
- There's a couple of places to go out for coffee and cake worth mentioning. DusiCake is in Burnham-on-Sea and is a comfy little lounge with good coffee and delicious, carefully-made cakes, including vegan cupcakes. Most of our visits to Burnham involve twenty minutes here. In Axbridge there's the Almshouse Tea Shop, a tiny café with good cake and soups. Axbridge is also home to one of the smallest cinemas in England.
- Bristol is the nearest big city and of course has a lot of choice in places to go. A few favourites, then: for Chinese food: Chilli Daddy, Mayflower. Indian food: Dhamaka, (One Stop) Thali, Raj, Urban Tandoor. Pizza: Renato's. Quick lunches: Falafel King, or just wander around St Nicholas Market. Pubs and bars: The Apple, The Arnolfini Bar, The Barley Mow, The Highbury Vaults, The Hillgrove Porter Stores, Left-Handed Giant brewpub, The King William, The King's Head, The Old Fish Market, The Ostrich, The Seven Stars, Small Bar. Breweries: Arbor Ales, Dawkins Ales, Fierce and Noble, Moor Beer, Wiper and True. Want to try: Café Maitreya, Koocha, Oowee, Seven Lucky Gods, places listed here. Walks: Brandon Hill and Cabot Tower, Bristol Harbour, Leigh Woods. Other stuff: Cube Cinema, We the Curious science museum.