The Secrets of South West England
Collected by Rachael Rowe , AFAR Local Expert
I live and work in South West England and have written walking guides to the area. This Wanderlist is a selection of some of the best places to visit in the region. South West England is a beautiful region and there are lots of places to taste regional specialties, observe traditional ways of life and see some of the very best of Britain.
2-4 Gold Hill, Shaftesbury SP7 8LY, UK
The Salt Cellar is perched at the top of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury with sweeping views across the Blackmore Vale. This very picturesque hill is really steep and has been used in films. This is a very popular cafe with locals and sits underneath the...
78 Cheap St, Sherborne DT9 3BJ, UK
Located on the picturesque main street in Sherborne just a few steps from the historic Market Place is The Three Wishes. This is a charming bistro and cafe which is always bustling with locals eager for a coffee after shopping or friends meeting...
Worth Matravers, Swanage BH19 3LF, UK
Located in the picturesque village of Worth Matravers in Dorset the Square and Compass Inn is a beautiful old pub which has been an alehouse since 1776 and has historic connections with smuggling. This is the perfect place to stop after a bracing...
W Quay Rd, Poole BH15 1HZ, UK
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a well known charity in the UK that provides lifeguards and lifeboats around the British coastline. This saves hundreds of lives at sea each year. The RNLI Headquarters and College is in Poole, Dorset....
Stock Gaylard, Sturminster Newton DT10 2BG, UK
On the last Saturday in August each year there is a very special country fair at Stock Gaylard in Dorset, England. This is the Oak Fair and celebrates the art and craft of wood. Stock Gaylard is a very popular gathering of country people, locals...
Tyneham, Wareham BH20 5DE, UK
In 1943 the villagers of Tyneham in Dorset were ordered to leave their homes so that top secret preparations for D Day could take place on the South Coast of England. Overnight the village emptied and people went to stay with family or be...
81 Poundbury Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester DT1 3RT, UK
Olives are not the first thing that comes to mind when visiting the UK but tasting the delicious produce at Olives et Al really should be. Customers can taste the olives which vary from Moorish to stuffed tomato and a delicious Aussie variety. At...
83 Catherine St, Salisbury SP1 2DH, UK
The Refectory Restaurant in Salisbury Cathedral is probably one of the best kept secrets in this historic city. Serving some of the best coffee in town it is a lovely place to relax after a morning of sightseeing and shopping in Salisbury.The menu...
The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance TR19 6JU, UK
In 1931 Rowena Cade started to build a theatre on the cliffs in Porthcurno, Cornwall. Today there is a remarkable arena on the coast with just the sea and rocks as a backdrop. In summer the audiences are treated to performances from Shakespeare to...
18 George St, West Bay, Bridport DT6 4HA, UK
The George was a pleasant find on a cold and windy day in West Bay. Just a mile out of the town of Bridport this Dorset resort is a joy in summer and the perfect place to find freshly caught fish and enjoy the beauty of the Jurassic Coast. The...
20 Chapel Terrace, Hayle TR27 4AB, UK
The Cornish Pasty is one of the most iconic tastes of a vacation in Cornwall. Traditionally made with meat, swede and potato covered in pastry it was the daily meal for the thousands of tin miners who worked underground in the Nineteenth century....
Station Rd, Swanage BH19 1HB, UK
The Swanage Railway from Norden near Wareham in Dorset to the seaside town of Swanage is a journey back in time. This is a magnificent steam train that has been lovingly restored and is manned by volunteers and takes passengers all the way to the...
Milton Abbas DT11, UK
In 1773 Joseph Damer, also known as Lord Milton and the 1st Earl of Dorchester decided he no longer liked the views of the village near his home, instead preferring a lakeside vista. The entire population of Milton Abbas in Dorset, England were...
Trebah Garden Trust, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ, UK
Trebah is an exquisite sub tropical garden that has been restored over the years to become one of the most beautiful to visit in South West England. There are around four miles of paths that lead visitors past rhododendrons and magnolias in...
B3273, Pentewan, Saint Austell PL26 6EN, UK
At one time Heligan was a large country estate with magnificent gardens and grounds tended by a team of experienced gardeners. With the onset of World War One all the gardeners were called up to fight in the battlefields. Tragically, the gardeners...
Feock TR3 6QL, UK
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Trelissick Gardens in Cornwall. Once a stately manor this country estate is now a magnificent garden on the banks of the River Fal. This is a garden where the plant hunters and travellers have left their mark...
Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ, UK
Glendurgan has been described as, "A Little Piece of Heaven," which is truly fitting. This is another of Cornwall's historic gardens and was designed by Quakers. The sub tropical climate and the sheltered spot on the Helford River is perfect for...
Holmbush Rd, Holmbush, Saint Austell PL25 3RQ, UK
Of all the gardens in Cornwall Pine Lodge in St Austell is one of my favourites and one of Cornwall's best kept secrets. The Clemo family created this beautiful garden and have a real passion for gardening and horticulture. They combined this with...
The St, Moreton, Dorchester DT2 8RJ, UK
The village of Moreton in Dorset is a real find for anyone looking for a piece of tranquil England. This is the burial place of Lawrence of Arabia, the home of an exquisite church with unique etched windows and a wonderful woodland walk. It is a...
Sturminster Newton DT10, UK
One of the highlights of spring are the villages of North Dorset when flowers start to bloom. Many of the traditional thatched cottages have wisteria growing up the walls and so in May to June they burst into a riot of colour. This is the time to...
Porthminster Beach, Carbis Bay, Saint Ives TR26 2EB, UK
People come to St Ives in Cornwall for the light which has attracted artists for years. Now they also come for food as well as light. In the Porthminster Beach Café which is located right on one of Europe's finest beaches the seafood is supreme....
Ar-Lyn/Vicarage La, Saint Ives TR26 3JZ, UK
Anyone trying to drive to St Ives in Cornwall during the summer months is in for a bit of a shock. The narrow streets are barely big enough for cars, there is nowhere to park and as for meeting traffic coming the other way...... There is a...
5 Market House, Market Place, Cornwall, St. Ives, Saint Ives TR26 1RZ, UK
Beautiful glassware inspired by the colours of the seaside and of the natural world in Cornwall. This is an excellent place to find something crafted locally which makes a wonderful gift or memento of the area.
South St, Dorchester DT1 1BS, UK
Tucked away in a precinct in Dorchester is a real treasure. The Fridge is a great deli with all the ingredients that you might need for a picnic out in the Dorset countryside. Forget the supermarkets- this is where local specialties from Isle of...
28 High St, Bruton BA10 0AE, UK
The small Somerset town of Bruton is one of the best kept secrets in the South West of England. There is a beautiful riverside walk, delightful shops, and then best of all - At The Chapel. This was once a congregational chapel and also has history...
Burton St, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton DT10 1JJ, UK
One of the most unspoilt places in England is the Blackmore Vale which stretches across North Dorset. This is the countryside that inspired Thomas Hardy and features as the Vale of the Little Dairies in his novels. In the village of Marnhull the...
Athelhampton, Puddletown, Dorchester DT2, UK
If Athelhampton looks familiar it is probably because you have seen it before in a movie. This is the location for the ghost story, "The House at Green Knowe," starring Dame Maggie Smith. Athelhampton was built in 1485 by Sir William Martyn and is...
10 Butcher Row, Salisbury SP1 1EP, UK
Stobys is an institution in Salisbury. It is a tall thin building squeezed tightly between cafes and faces the historic market place. The restaurant is located on 2 or 3 floors in a rabbit warren of rooms and with narrow passageways and tables.If...
1a N Parade, Bath BA1 1LF, UK
The Café du Globe is a haven of Moroccan hospitality in Bath. Just a few steps away from Bath Abbey, this is a marvellous place to dine out on authentic Moroccan cuisine. Mostafa the owner uses recipes passed down from his grandmother and the food...
13 Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LY, UK
A string quartet played classical music as I entered the Pump Room in Bath. I was instantly transported back to the Regency days when Jane Austen would have frequented the area to take the famous waters full of minerals. The historic Pump Room is...
Bucketts Hill, Redruth TR16 6RW, UK
I used to go to Morrish's as a child when eating fish and chips out of the newspaper wrapping was a treat. I returned recently to find the restaurant in the same place but with a complete transformation. With a bright and spacious interior on a...
Shaftesbury Rd, Mere, Warminster BA12 6BH, UK
Mere is a beautiful village in Wiltshire, surrounded by hills and country lanes, and is ideal for walking. The Walnut Tree is a delightful country pub on the outskirts of the village and just a few minutes from the busy A303. It is a quiet rural...
41 The Common, Langley Burrell, Chippenham SN15 4LQ, UK
The village of Langley Burrell is in the heart of farming country and is just outside Chippenham in Wiltshire, England. It is just the kind of place to stop for a drink and a meal after a country walk, and this area is renowned as being the...
3 Fish Row, Salisbury SP1 1EX, UK
Fish Row is one of the oldest streets in Salisbury and the Fish Row Deli Café is located in a beautiful medieval building. Enjoy a freshly brewed coffee here and gaze in wonder at ancient beams and other architectural features. The deli counter...
48 Frome Rd, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1LE, UK
When just about every local I spoke to whilst walking in Bradford on Avon recommended the Lock Inn I knew I was on to something. Bradford on Avon is a short journey from Bath and is excellent for walking and cycling as well as sailing up the...
Avebury, Marlborough SN8 1RF, UK
Avebury is a unique village in Wiltshire,England in that it is surrounded by three ancient stone circles. Mystery still surrounds the stones that seem to pop up all over the countryside here and that were somehow placed intriguingly on ancient ley...
Station Rd, Colyton EX24 6HA, UK
The village of Colyton is a delight to explore with its historic square. In 1685 it was known as Devon's Most Rebellious Town during the Monmouth Rebellion . It is known for bird watching opportunities too but one of the most popular reasons to...
49 Main Rd, Tolpuddle, Dorchester DT2 7ES, UK
The village of Tolpuddle is a rural community but is where the first Trade Union in the world was formed in 1834. Agricultural workers were unhappy with their pay and working conditions and formed the union. Unfortunately they were tried in court...
Castle St, Nunney, Frome BA11 4LW, UK
Nunney is a small village with exquisite cottages and a moated castle in Somerset. The castle is ruined but stands in the middle of the village surrounded by a moat. It was originally built in the 1370's when Sir John De La Mare returned from...
Greenway Road Galmpton, Brixham, Kingswear, Brixham TQ5 0ES, UK
During the 1930's Agatha Christie purchased Greenway as a holiday home for her family. Today the home is open to the public and has been left more or less as it was when Agatha Christie was here writing her novels. This is in a beautiful location...
Stoke, Hartland, Bideford EX39 6DU, UK
As you turn the narrow and steep road towards the sea at Hartland Quay in Devon it is the dramatic cliff scenery that grabs your attention. These are the tallest cliffs in England and look very unforgiving. Leave the car and the wind is the next...
Kimmeridge, Wareham BH20 5PE, UK
There's a new museum in Dorset that is dedicated to fossils found in and around Kimmeridge on the world famous Jurassic Coast. What is even more remarkable is the collection is down to one man collecting specimens and bones from the local beach....
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