Alchemy in Rural Somerset, England

Somerset one of the beautiful English county’s located in south west of England, has a few tricks up its sleeve. This rural area maybe quiet and picturesque but there are magical delights going on! Here are 2 places to visit in Somerset England.

Alchemy in rural Somerset England

Magic for grown ups

Alchemy in rural Somerset England: Orchards overflowing in Somerset. ©MDHarding
Orchards overflowing in Somerset. ©MDHarding

Somerset Cider Brandy Company

Somerset is renowned for its apple orchards stretching for miles and the delightful cider that is produced. Did you know that cider has been made in the area for more than 1,000 years? When the Roman’s arrived in the UK in 55 BC a drink made from the apples was already flowing.  It became such a hit that after the Norman Conquest of 1066, cider making apples were being produced.

One of the best places to visit in Somerset England is Somerset Cider Brandy Company. They have been pressing apples for 150 years and distilling since 1989 with award winning blends produced with local apple varieties.  I was keen to visit and see for myself this magical process and of course do a wee taste test.

The farm is situated in the beautiful Somerset levels, with miles of green countryside in all directions as far as the eye can see.  A wonderful location to explore by car and do a stop and stay. There is accommodation to suit all budgets and needs from unique gypsy caravans, quaint bed and breakfasts or perhaps a luxury central castle hotel.

Upon arrival at the farm shop I was surprised at how many different bottled produce there are and how long some are distilled for. Such as the Somerset 20 year old and the Somerset Alchemy 15 year old!  Two of my favourites were the Kingston Black Apple Aperitif and the Ice Cider which are sweet and very delicious!  The Ice Cider is served chilled or with ice, ideal for those late summer evenings relaxing with friends.

Highly recommend a visit to the farm shop where you can purchase all the above Cider Brandy’s, Wine and local preserves.

It is said that we all have an inner artist trying to get out. I love to paint and draw so when I found out about the process of producing artist charcoal, I was thrilled to find the Willow and Wetlands Centre.

Alchemy in rural Somerset England: Large Willow Sculpture at Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre ©MDHarding
Large Willow Sculpture at Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre ©MDHarding

Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre

Another great place to visit in Somerset England is the Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre. You will find this place through a scenic drive to the village of Stoke St Gregory. Here you can see the process of willow basket making and the artist charcoal.  Did you know that an apprenticeship takes 3 years to learn the skills of basket making? In some baskets there can be as many as 5 different weaves. After a walk around the very informative museum and shop, it was time for the walking tour.  The Coates family have been working with Willow since 1819 during the world wars the willow business was of great importance creating baskets for transporting goods and baskets for shell cases.  After the wars the industry declined, It was a magical coincidence when the artist charcoal was discovered one evening sitting by the fire. The willow was thrown on the fire as kindling, alchemy! The Coates family could now diversify the willow business.  The Coates artist charcoal is now renowned throughout the world for its quality.  It was wonderful to learn the history of the area, willow and see the skilled processes that are used to create such bespoke items.

Alchemy in rural Somerset England: Sneaky Snail in the willow
Sneaky snail in the willow: Photo English Willow Baskets Visitor Centre

The Somerset levels are a haven for wildlife and nature. Here at the Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre look out for butterflies, moths and birds. See if you can find the animal willow sculptures in the woodland and after a gentle stroll, delicious treats await at the Lemon Tree Coffee House.

Thank you to both the Somerset Cider Brandy Company and the Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre.

Have you visited Somerset? Did you drop by these 2 places to visit in Somerset England and discover any magical goings on?  We would love to hear! Please leave us a comment or question below. Also if you enjoyed reading, don’t forget to share! Happy Travels:) x

About MichelleDeansHarding

Website: http://WWW.MDHardingTravelPhotography.com

 Michelle has a love of travel and photography, which has currently taken her to six continents. Experiencing other cultures/history and food both independently and while working on-board luxury cruise ships. Discover more about Michelle, her enthusiasm for travel and photography via: www.MDHardingTravelPhotography.com

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