Like most of the West Country, Somerset is a largely rural county with a population of just under a million. The largest areas of population as of the 2011 census are Bath (94,782), Weston-Super-Mare (83,641), Taunton (the county town – 60,479), Yeovil (45,784) and Bridgwater (41,276).
Apart from Bath and the coastal resorts, the main attraction of Somerset is the countryside and smaller towns and villages, which not only attract tourists but also people looking for a quieter way of life.
Exmoor National Park is shared with Devon as are the Blackdown Hills, and lying between the Quantocks and Mendips are the flat (but not boring) Somerset Levels.
The Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary coastline forms the county’s western boundary, which between Minehead and Brean Down is known as Bridgwater Bay.
Somerset is often seen as a backwater, but there a number of things that might suggest otherwise: Wells, the smallest city in England (if you exclude the City of London), has a magnificent cathedral, Glastonbury has an alternative lifestyle and world-famous festival, and Cheddar has its incredible gorge and caves.
Talking of Cheddar, it’s also the birthplace of Cheddar Cheese of course, which just happens to be the perfect companion for cider, another product associated with the county.
Scrumpy & Western may not be everybody’s idea of music, but Adge Cutler with his yokel sense of humour will forever be a legend in these parts, and it’s this image that often prevails in people’s minds about the character of Somerset.
- Somerset Levels