Rural North Somerset & Mendips

On the southern doorstep of Bristol, you’ll find the rolling hills of North Somerset, an area perfect for nature lovers, keen ramblers and family-friendly days out. 

Set across 850 acres of woods and grassland, Ashton Court Estate is just across Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, providing a perfect space for cycling, walking, picnicking and enjoying many annual events including the popular Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

There are many rural attractions just on the outskirts of Bristol including Tyntesfield, a National Trust attraction with a striking Victorian gothic house and picturesque grounds. Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall is home to a huge variety of animals from elephants, lions and tigers to white rhinos and farm animals, as well as an indoor Animal Village, 12 exciting play areas and covered animal show pens.  

Puxton Park, near to the M5 at Weston, boasts an adventure park, miniature railway, mini-golf, dairy, farm shop and more. Oakham Treasures is a vast and unique collection of memorabilia from the last century, including fully-stocked shops and farm machinery. 

For foodies, the area is also home to Thatchers Cider, Yeo Valley, Butcombe Brewery and several vineyards, including Aldwick Estate

North Somerset is also where Bristol Airport is located, a short journey from Central Bristol by car or the regular Bristol Airport Flyer bus service. There are also regular bus services from the airport to Bath, Cardiff, Newport, Keynsham, Weston-super-Mare and other locations across the South West. 

Places to stay in North Somerset

If you’re looking to stay in the area, book a room at the luxurious Doubletree by Hilton Cadbury House Hotel & Spa, or have a whole house to yourself with stunning country views Yeo Valley Properties.  For a relaxing break, book a room at The Newt in Somerset, a beautiful country house hotel with gardens and spa facilities. 

Many country pubs in the area have rooms you can book to stay a night or two, such as The Langford, Swan Inn or Ring O’ Bells, and are excellent bases if you’re doing a walking holiday or stopping off on a long journey through the area. If you're visiting with the family, Wookey Hole Hotel is on the doorstep of Wookey Hole Caves as well as many other nearby attractions.  

For keen campers, Basecamp at Mendip Activity Centre has plenty of space to spread out and explore in between games and adventures, or there are plenty of pitches available as well as glamping options at Brook Lodge Farm Camping

Chew Valley

Just the other side of Dundry hill from Bristol, Chew Valley is a picturesque collection of villages around Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lake. A great area for walking, fishing, wildlife spotting or a scenic day trip for lunch in a country pub! 

If you’re planning a family day out, Chew Valley Animal Park is home to a range of animals including ring-tailed lemurs, camels and pygmy goats. The area also plays host to family-friendly food and music festival Valley Fest every August. 

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to traditional country pubs to stop into for lunch or dinner, including The Pelican in Chew Magna, Ring O’Bells in Compton Martin and The Queens Chew Magna

Nailsea and Yatton

Both around ten miles from Bristol, Yatton is a 15 minute train ride from Temple Meads, while Nailsea is accessible by regular bus services, or you can catch the train to Nailsea & Backwell station, which is a half hour walk from the centre of the town. 

Nailsea is a former mining town which also became well known for its glassworks in the late 1700s. There is a Heritage Trail around the town which explains more about local history and areas of interest. The town centre has a range of pubs, cafes and restaurants, including The Old Farmhouse, a pub housed in a 17th century building, and The Rising Sun in Backwell, which as well as offering an all-day menu, also has bedrooms you can stay in above the pub. The family-friendly Maple Lounge & Restaurant in Cleeve is the place to go for a tasty lunch or dinner, making the most of local ingredients and suppliers. For contemporary dining, try Marco Pierre White’s steakhouse in Congresbury. 

From Yatton you can join the 11-mile Strawberry Line cycle route that passes through Thatcher's Cider orchard on the way and ends at the magnificent Cheddar Gorge and Caves. The route takes its name from the delicious Cheddar strawberries that used to be transported along here when it was a working railway line. See Better By Bike to download cycling maps for the area. 

The Mendip Hills

Don’t miss an opportunity to venture out into the glorious Mendips, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and popular with walkers and cyclists for awe-inspiring slopes, gorges and outcrops. You’re never far from an amazing view!  

The Mendip Way is a 50-mile route taking in some of the area’s top sights and attractions, or you can climb Crook Peak to enjoy panoramic views across to Glastonbury Tor and Brean Down. 

Visitors can spend a whole day exploring Wookey Hole, from its impressive caves and Valley of the Dinosaurs, to the various historic exhibits, penny arcade, soft play areas, crazy golf and 4D cinema. You may even get to meet the famous Witch of Wookey! Nearby is Cheddar Gorge – England's largest gorge, complete with spectacular caves, cliff tops and attractions. Further south you’ll find the West Somerset Railway and the Fleet Air Arm Museum

If you're a fan of adventure, take your pick from a range of fun activities at Mendip Activity Centre, from snowboarding to archery, as well as tobogganing for little ones. 

Day Trips from Bristol

While you’re in the area, other local attractions worth a visit include the Somerset Rural Life Museum, Haynes Motor Museum and The Helicopter Museum

Head further south to explore Somerset’s historic towns, including Glastonbury and Street, Wells and Salisbury. The safari park at Longleat and world-famous Stonehenge are also within easy reach. 

Book on to a guided tour or excursion to see even more of the region. Rabbie's Tours offer a one-day tour of Stonehenge & Cotswold Villages or Flavours of Somerset & Glastonbury, as well as a multi-day tour of Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge. Mad Max Tours run small group day tours to key local sites and towns, including Cheddar Gorge, Stonehenge, Wells, Glastonbury and Cotswold villages. Foodies can book local tours with GOOD: Stories in Food, who run a Wine & Cheese Tasting in the Cheddar Valley day trip. 

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Make the area your base for trips to nearby historic towns, coastal walks and award-winning attractions.

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