Local Places to Explore 

Apex Park   Covering approximately 42 acres, Apex Leisure and Wildlife Park offers visitors a chance to relax away from the bustle of Burnham-on-Sea shopping centre and the beach. A large car park extends from Marine Drive to the lake. Picnic tables are situated by the car park. Should you require a more peaceful setting away from cars, why not picnic on the grass further into the park. On 17th July, 2012 Apex Park was awarded the Green Flag. There is a play park for younger children and a skate park.


Brean  Down and Fort    Brean Down is a ideal location for a day out in Somerset. Enjoy relaxing on the beach at the foot of the Down, building sandcastles and visiting the Cove Café for some yummy food. Take an exhilarating walk to the top of the Down and venture the 1.5 miles it takes to the end by walking out to sea along Somerset's greatest natural pier. The Down stands 318 ft high and the views from the top are truly spectacular, looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales and over the Somerset Levels and stunning coastline. Uncover the charms of Brean Down and its many layers of history, as you make your way towards The Palmerston Fort to explore its secret rooms.


 Brent  Knoll    Brent Knoll is a 449 ft high hill on the Somerset Levels. It is located roughly half way between Weston-super-Mare and Bridgwater; 2.5 miles from the Bristol Channel coast at Burnham-on-Sea. At the foot of the hill are two villages: East Brent, and Brent Knoll which takes its name from the hill but was previously called South Brent. The hill's size and isolated position on the Levels mean that it dominates the landscape and can be seen for many miles, and its prominence is emphasised because the Bristol to Taunton railway line, M5 motorway, A370 and A38 which all pass close to its base. For more information on Brent Knoll and local walks go to www.brentknollvillage.info/



Manor Gardens   Situated at the junction of Love Lane and Berrow Road, Burnham-on-Sea, the formal gardens surrounding the Manor House are of a traditional style with mown lawns, floral beds and an hexagonal bandstand encircled by trees. A wall separates Manor Gardens from its neighbour Crosses Pen, where leisure plays a major part, with a large play area and two tarmacadam tennis courts. The original bandstand was replaced in 1995 as part of the town's VE Day commemorations.



Marine  Cove   Tucked away on Burnham-on-Sea's Victorian North Esplanade are Marine Cove Gardens. It is within a conservation area and with its original timber and brick shelters, raised, walled flowerbeds, pond and formal grassed lawns, these formally laid out gardens are a place of tranquility and relaxation. Hidden behind high stone walls, away from the sea winds and at the base of the leaning tower of St Andrew's Church, the gardens officially opened to the public in 1927 and its central feature is an Art Deco-style goldfish pond. Today, the gardens are still laid out in their original style. The park had been inspired by the Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll designed garden at nearby Hestercombe. The gardens have recently been restored with the help of Lottery and a dedicated team of local enthusiasts.



Nornen  Wreck  When the tide goes out at Berrow, near Burnham-On-Sea, the bones of a long dead ship stick out of the sands as a stark reminder of a savage gale and a gallant rescue at the end of the 1800's. It all started during the first days of March 1897 when a howling south westerly swept up the Bristol Channel, bringing with it high seas, driving snow and sleet. Many ships soon found themselves in distress, among them the Norwegian barque SS Nornen which had tried to ride out the storm in the lee of the Lundy Roads but had found her anchors dragging. She was being driven towards Berrow mud flats. The crew desperately tried to save her, but were fighting a lost cause. After the crew was rescued, the sea pounded and smashed the ship and although attempts were made to lighten and refloat her, she was finally sold as a wreck. Today, when the tide goes out, the timbers of the ship wreck can be seen just south of Brean, but when the wind blows and the big seas start to roll in, it doesn't take much imagination to see again that gallant rescue.



St.Andrew's Church   Burnham-on-Sea's parish church of Saint Andrew stands on the seafront and has always been a focal point of the town. Dating back to 1316, the church contains component parts of an altar piece designed by Inigo Jones and carved by Grinling Gibbons, which was commissioned by James II for the chapel of Whitehall Palace. The original piece comprised a tableau of cherubs, flanked by two angels mounted on pedestals. The altar piece was later moved to Westminster Abbey, where it was placed behind the High Altar. It remained there until 1820 when the Bishop of Rochester, who was also the vicar of Burnham, acquired it and used fragments to decorate the chancel of Saint Andrews. The sculptures are now dispersed over various parts of the interior of the building, including the nave windows and behind the altar. The leaning tower of the church arouses much comment and it is said that if a plumb line was dropped from the top of the tower on the north side, it would land some feet away from the base.




Ashton Windmill   This unique 18th century flour mill stands on the "Isle of Wedmore", a ridge giving commanding views of Cheddar Gorge, the Somerset Levels and Brent Knoll. A windmill is mentioned on this site as far back as 1317. Although it last worked in 1927, the mill has been carefully restored.







  Avalon   The Avalon Marshes is an ancient wetland landscape in the heart of Somerset, significant for its hidden cultural heritage as well as its huge range of wildlife. Home to ancient Neolithic trackways, stunning wildflower meadows, and thousands of wintering wildfowl, this landscape has many ancient and modern stories to tell and reveal.





 Axbridge   Coming from the south, visitors can see how the medieval town of Axbridge hugs the southern slope of the Mendips. Approaching from the north, the Levels spread out below the town. An important wool-producer in the Middle Ages, the town has always been at the crossroads, the centre of things; indeed it was a river port in earlier times. This was reflected in its early royal charters allowing it to hold markets, fairs and become a royal borough. It even had its own mint, with coins showing the town's symbol; the Lamb and Flag. There is far less through traffic nowadays, but the layout of the town has changed little over the centuries; a medieval town expanding on a fortified Saxon burgh. Today visitors can wander the winding streets that remain at the heart of this charming, still vibrant place, and soak up hundreds of years of history.




Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve (NNR)

The Reserve consists largely of intertidal mudflats with saltmarsh, sandflats and shingle ridges, some of which are vegetated. The Bristol Channel has the second largest tidal range in the world and this exposes huge mudflats and sand banks in the area. The site has an important bird population with approximately 190 species recorded on the Reserve. Large numbers of wintering waders and waterfowl visit the site and some species use the area as a stop-off on migration routes. Vegetation at the site is an important food source for some birds and parts of the saltmarsh are grazed by sheep to maintain a palatable sward for wigeon grazing. Wildfowling is permitted in some areas whilst main body of the Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary.



Catcott Nature Reserve   At Catcott Lows, you can enjoy stunning views across the marshes to Somerset's iconic Glastonbury Tor. One of the lowest parts of the Brue Valley, Catcott Lows is a mecca for birds that come to breed in spring and take refuge from freezing temperatures in winter. Catcott Heath is alive with dragonflies in the summer and toads, newts and frogs make their homes in the wet fen meadows.    




Cheddar   Cheddar is unique.  Its distinguishing feature is the natural phenomenon of Britain's largest gorge.  The Cheddar Yeo in Gough's Cave is Britain's largest underground water system, and the Gorge Cliffs are Britain's highest inland limestone cliffs. Cheddar was an important Roman and Saxon centre. The Kings of Wessex School occupies the historical site of an Anglo Saxon palace,  with the ruins of the 13th century chapel of St. Columbanus still visible today. By 1130 AD, the beauty of the Gorge was recognised as one of the "Four wonders of England".  Historically, Cheddar's source of wealth was farming and cheese making for which it was famous as early as 1170 AD.



Ebbor Gorge NNR   Ebbor Gorge is a largely wooded site occupying a prominent position on the southern escarpment of the Mendip Hills. The scarp is cut by two valleys: Hope Wood, which has an active stream; and Ebbor Gorge, a dry limestone gorge. There are two geologically important caves on the site with deposits that include the bones of Ice Age mammals. It is an ash woodland, with many other species present, including oak, wych elm, field maple, whitebeam, beech, hornbeam and hazel. Nettle leaved bellflower is present in the gorge. The bulk of the NNR is ash or maple woodland interspersed with areas of limestone grassland. Some of these are ancient woods whilst other areas have grown on previously grazed land. 



Glastonbury Tor   This iconic and evocative landmark offers magnificent views of the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. Steeped in history and legend, excavations at the top of the Tor have revealed the sites of two superimposed churches of St Michael, of which only a 15th-century tower remains. Glastonbury Tor also has a grisly past. Abbot Richard Whiting was executed here in 1549 on the orders of Thomas Cromwell, the first Earl of Essex. Glastonbury Tor is one of the most spiritual sites in the country; its pagan beliefs still very much celebrated. It is a beautiful place to walk, unwind and relax.


Langport and River Parret Visitor Centre 

The Langport and River Parrett Visitor Centre provides information about places to visit on the Levels and Moors which lie in the heart of Somerset. It is an uncrowded and remote area, with many hidden places to discover and explore. Essentially a huge, reclaimed marsh, where the pastures are divided not by hedges or fences, but by a network of drainage channels, known locally as 'rhynes'. It is a unique, flat and open landscape with large areas of almost treeless pasture land, dominated by distant views in any direction of the surrounding hills. The remoteness of the area provides a relaxing atmosphere for quiet leisure pursuits such as fishing, cycling and walking. Find out about the River Parrett Trail, with a 'hands on experience' in the 'discovery room', or enjoy the displays and exhibits explaining the fascinating story of historic Langport, local industries, the River Parrett and wildlife.


Mendips   The Mendip Hills are a range of limestone hills running east to west between Weston-super-Mare and Frome, the hills overlook the Somerset Levels to the south and the Avon Valley to the north. The hills give their name to the local government district of Mendip, which administers most of the area. Naturally beautiful and nationally protected, the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 49 AONBs in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. Together with our Heritage Coasts and National Parks, AONBs make up some of the finest countryside in Britain  



Polden Way   The Polden Way is a footpath project which links together areas of land with public access on the Polden Hills between Walton and Hurcot. It has opened up a path through King's Wood; an area between Combe Hill and Great Breach Wood, which previously had no public access. In addition to the landscape and wildlife, there are other interesting features and buildings along the Polden Way. The large blue butterfly can be found in numerous habitats along the Polden Way, hence its butterfly logo.




Shapwick Heath NNR   Shapwick Heath is a superb place to watch wildlife. This magnificent wetland, managed by Natural England, is at the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors. It is an area steeped in history; an atmospheric  landscape of great skies and endless horizons. Habitats include lush green wildflower meadows; still, dark ditches; damp, secretive fens, shady, wet fern woods and open water, fringed with rustling reedbeds. Marvel at the huge flocks of starlings coming in to roost in winter and the spring migration of hobbies arriving from tropical Africa. Shapwick Heath is also the location of the Neolithic Sweet Track; the oldest man-made routeway in Britain.


Somerset Levels   The Somerset Levels and Moors are one of the most important inland wetland landscapes in Britain, if not the world. The Levels stretch along the coast and are a clay belt about 6 metres above sea level whereas the Moors are inland flood plains only about 9 feet above sea level. This quiet and distinctive landscape is valued as a place to relax and unwind. It is home to a diverse range of wildlife including wading birds, curlews, bitterns, otters, dragonflies and an abundance of wildflowers. In winter, over 80,000 water birds gather across the area and often flocks of thousands of starlings can be seen swirling in the skies at dusk before coming in to roost in the reed beds.



Somerton   Somerton is a small town and civil parish in South Somerset which is thought to have given the county its name. Briefly, around the start of the 14th century, it was the county town. Circa 900 AD it was possibly the capital of Wessex. Since the Middle Ages, a weekly market has been held in the attractive main square with its octagonal roofed market cross. It is surrounded by old houses, while close by, is the 13th century Church of St Michael and All Angels. Somerton also had links with Muchelney Abbey in the Middle Ages. The BBC drama The Monocled Mutineer was filmed in Somerton from 1985 to 1986.




Starling Murmurations   Every year between autumn and February, starlings flock together over the Somerset Levels and Moors to create huge and magnificent murmurations. Surely one of nature's best and most magnificent sights, the starlings form into sweeping ball like shapes in their thousands; sometimes hundreds of thousands, before flying down and roosting in the trees. Although the murmurations can be seen across the Somerset Levels, the best places to see them are the National Nature Reserves of Westhay Moor and Shapwick Heath, and RSPB Ham Wall.




Strawberry Line   The Strawberry Line takes its name from the delicious cargo this former railway carried from the strawberry fields of Cheddar. The line was well used for nearly a century until its closure in 1965 and since then a wealth of wildlife habitats have been allowed to flourish. Volunteers from the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society began converting the line into a walking and cycling route in 1983. This ride is mainly traffic-free with no steep gradients and takes in a variety of landscapes from the flat marshes and cider apple orchards around Yatton, steep wooded valleys and a tunnel through the Mendips, to historic Axbridge and the spectacular Cheddar Gorge.



Uphill Hill Nature Reserve   Uphill Hill Local Nature Reserve is located to the south of the village of Uphill, which is itself just south of Weston-super-Mare. This 17 hectare site is owned by North Somerset Council and is popular with the local community. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Uphill Hill is part of the Mendip Limestone Grasslands Special Area of Conservation, (SAC) supporting a diverse flora and valuable insect habitat. The site lies on carboniferous limestone, which has been formed into a sheer face by quarrying at the western edge. An outstanding display of cowslips, primroses and green winged orchids covers the northern and eastern hill slopes in the Spring. The rest of the site is more level and gently sloping, and consists of semi-improved calcareous grassland. A tower tops the Hill and can be climbed for a panoramic view. Archaeological features include a disused lime kiln, a sheepwash and a powder house.




Westhay Moor NNR    The National Nature Reserve consists mainly of restored peat fields and water-filled compartments containing islands with areas of reeds and bulrushes. There are areas of poor fen and also an old fragment of acid mire that is being restored.  Westhay Moor originally lay at the centre of the most northerly of the two lowland raised bogs that formed in the lower Brue Valley. They reached their greatest extent at the end of the Iron Age. In the 1810s, Samuel Galton Jr. showed that bogs could be drained and dressed with clay and other soil, and he built Galton's Canal. The meadows, ditches, abandoned peat workings and hedgerows provide suitable breeding habitats for a diverse and nationally important breeding bird community.


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