Six Free Things To Do In Somerset This Summer

We know that money is tight for everyone and the prospect of entertaining the family during the endless days of the summer holidays without spending a fortune is a daunting prospect. Family days out can be expensive, but if you follow our canny suggestions below, you might just be able to spend an enjoyable day, basking in the beauty of our wonderful county, without even having to part with a single penny. Read on.

1. WOODLAND WALK AT THE BATH & WEST

Taking place on Thursday 17 August, the Bath & West Woodland Walk event promises to be both an exciting and educational experience for little ones! Visitors will be provided with a small pack consisting of an interactive map, worksheet and pencils. Follow the map to make your way through the Woodland finding bug hotels, bird boxes and butterfly houses along the way.

There’ll be plenty on offer to evoke the senses of little ones and get them hands on with nature. Don’t forget to bring a picnic blanket, so you can enjoy the scenic views across the Bath & West’s extensive showground. Hot drinks, cold drinks and other refreshments will be available to purchase.

The Woodland Walk will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. So, lace up your walking shoes, pack yourself a picnic, and prepare for an exciting adventure! There is no charge for the walk but you do need to reserve your time slot. Visit the website now to book yours.

woodland walk

2. CONTEMPORARY ART AT HAUSER & WIRTH

Introduce your children to art at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset’s premier contemporary art gallery.

You may wish to avoid the pricey restaurant here (although the food is delicious) if you’re on a budget. But entrance to the gallery is free and it offers some wonderful art installations that will inspire even the youngest members of the family. Past installations have included giant pants hanging on a line (sure to raise a snigger from the children) as well as a large room where you can sit down, relax and watch a video of washing drying in a gentle breeze. It’s utterly compelling.

This summer, you can indulge in ‘Gruppenaustellung’ – an exhibition in three acts and a celebration of the founders’ Swiss heritage with 20 artists on display. The exhibition will evolve in three parts over the course of seven months, featuring immersive installations, solo presentations and iconic video works. It’s always colourful, (look out for the neon signs by Robert Jackson which we love) as well as thought provoking and fun.

3. CYCLING FROM CHARD TO ILMINSTER

The Stop Line Way from Ilminster to Chard follows the track of the old Great Western Railway and is a gentle five-mile route, ideal for children who have just found their confidence on two wheels, for parents with bikes with baby attachment, or it’s equally lovely to enjoy on foot with a buggy in tow.

There is much to experience along this stretch, from reminders of World War II (the Taunton Stop Line defence – built in the second half of 1940 to contain a possible German invasion of the south-west peninsula of Britain), to a birdwatching haven at Chard Reservoir, home to many waterfowl, woodland birds and birds of prey.

If you’re feeling more energetic, from Ilminster, you can continue further to Bridgwater on level minor roads and then on to the River Parrett. You’ll pass the National Trust property Barrington Court, Kingsbury Episcopi, Langport and the ruins of Muchelney Abbey along the way. The Chard, Ilminster and Bridgwater route is part of the Wessex Way which is still being developed, and will ultimately stretch from Weston-super-Mare to Seaton and Lyme Regis which we think is pretty amazing.

family cycling on trail

4. BEACH DAYS AT WESTON SUPER MARE

Everyone will be heading to the beach this summer, and Weston Super Mare is one of Somerset’s finest. Stretching two miles, it is one of the largest naturally occurring beaches in the UK, is on the Bristol Channel and has the second highest tidal range in the world.

Just rock up with your cool box, take your pick of entrances to the beach (a mix of ramps and steps), take up your place on the sand and let the children get creative with sandcastles, kick a ball around or paddle safely in Marine Lake (a tidal pool which is always full, even at low tide).

Aside from the impressive beach, there’s plenty going on in the local vicinity that is cost free. Weston features a massive outdoor gallery of street art where you may find yourself immersed in an underwater scene or be confronted by a giant cockerel looking down at you! And if you can spare a few pennies the donkeys rides are the best.

baby sat on beach

5. BEAVERS AT OTTERHEAD LAKES

A pair of reservoirs fed by the River Otter, Otterhead is a gorgeous place with several easy trails for pushing buggies. It’s a wonderful landscape full of long swaying grasses, chirping crickets and ideal for picnicking. The stunning lakes which surround you are decorated in summer with thousands of water lilies and croaking frogs. Hang a right after the bridge and this will take you to the part where the beavers have set up home. You will be able to see the extraordinary network of dams they have been super busy building since they were introduced though you’ll be very lucky if you actually see one. It involves waiting a while and exercising complete silence which is a difficult ask with little ones. But it’s just amazing to know that they’re there! Getting to this bit is tricky, so you may need to leave the buggy – don’t forget your Hippychick Hipseat for little ones who can’t yet walk to take the strain! Other species you might spot include otters (obvs) dormice, badgers, bats kingfishers and dippers.

two beavers sat side by side

6. MAJESTIC FOREST WALK AT CASTLE NEROCHE

Take a step back in history to discover the intriguing remains of a prehistoric Iron Age hill fort.

Though there are not even ruins remaining on site, what you will find is a majestic forest (managed by Forestry England) which abounds with trails, some more challenging than others. When mine were little, they would scoot down all the steep banks on their bottoms on the slippery leaves, having the best of times, and then have to climb all the way back up to the top to do it again. Be prepared for soggy, stained bottoms as well as exhausted children by the end of it (perfect!). Also plenty of trees to climb, hundreds of opportunities for hide and seek, magnificent far reaching views across to Glastonbury, and lots of rare butterflies in the conservation area at Mount Fancy Farm. If you’re quiet, you might be lucky enough to spot a deer. Shhhhhhh.

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