9 wonderful National Trust places to visit in Somerset

Days out

Posted by Clare Willcocks on 20th February 2020

The National Trust has spent the last 125 years caring for and protecting some of the UK's most important historic and natural assets for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Founded in 1895, the Trust was formed under the shadow of rapid industrialisation which was threatening the country’s heritage and natural spaces. The aim of the National Trust remains the same today: to care for nature, beauty, as well as history, and 2020 is their 125th birthday.

The South West county of Somerset is home to some remarkable National Trust places which are open for people to discover. We’ve put together a selection of our favourite stately homes in Somerset, as well as gardens and natural spaces all owned by the National Trust.

We’ve separated them into three distinct categories: family-friendly, dog-friendly and gardens to help you find the perfect day out in Somerset, whatever your requirements. So, whether you’re a local looking to expand your horizons, or a holidaymaker searching for activities to fill your Somerset break, read on to discover our favourites.

All cottages in Somerset 

Skip to: 

👪 Family-friendly places

🐕 Dog-friendly places

🌲 Gardens

The best family-friendly National Trust places to visit in Somerset

Tyntesfield, Somerset

If you’re looking for National Trust properties in Somerset to visit with your family, top of your list has to be extraordinary Tyntesfield, close to Bristol. The beautiful home which belonged to the Gibbs family for four generations boasts four fantastic play areas. The adventure play area and sculpture trail meanders through an enchanting woodland setting, along which your mini explorers you will find fun activities from a rope swing to a treehouse.

Gather some sticks and build a shelter in the dedicated den-building village, and make sure you pack some paper and pencils to do the brass rubbings along the way. The Orchard Play Area is packed with obstacles to test your little ones’ balance and the Farm Play Area with its big tractor and play barns offers yet more fun. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head for the Cow Barn Restaurant where there’s a small indoor play area to keep tiny tots busy while you enjoy a well-earned coffee and cake. And all that before you’ve even explored the inside of the house!

⭐ Don’t miss: The family trails and activities. There are a whole host of family-friendly events at Tyntesfield throughout the year, so check their website before you visit.

🌦 Best conditions: Visit on a dry day to make the most of the great outdoor play areas.

☕ Facilities: Restaurant and café. Several shops including plant and garden shop. Accessible toilets and baby change facilities at Home Farm Visitor Centre and house. Dogs welcome in some areas – see website for restrictions.

🏠 Stay nearby: The Bull Pen, Bristol (6.5mls W) | Sleeps 4

Coleridge Cottage, Somerset

Image credit Instagram @evieseaside

 

At Coleridge Cottage, once the home of the great Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, children can indulge their desire to be nosy, touch, and try things out. Throughout the house, there are numerous interactive exhibits, from Georgian toys in the second parlour, to writing with a real quill and ink.

The history of the poet is brought to life – there’s no stuffy museum feel here. Children are encouraged to open drawers and cupboard doors and find out more about the poet and his family. There are even Georgian clothes to try on, and a family trail that will have you all hunting for mice and fun facts as you wander around the cottage.

⭐ Don’t miss: Keep your eyes peeled for the wire pigs, geese and ducks which are dotted around the wildflower garden.

🌦 Best conditions: Good for a rainy or overcast day, as you can stay inside if necessary.

☕ Facilities: Tea room and shop (both open March to the end of October). Dogs on leads welcome only in the garden (apart from guide dogs).

🏠 Stay nearby: Summer Lodge, Nether Stowey (2.5mls E) | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Bath Skyline, Somerset

Bath Skyline: Image credit Instagram @ntbathskyline

 

Sometimes outdoor spaces are overlooked when thinking about National Trust places to go with your family, but the stunning Bath Skyline is one that deserves a visit. Miles of waymarked footpaths offer dramatic views over the beautiful city of Bath, making it the perfect choice for families who love the outdoors. The family discovery trail is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs so everyone can join in the fun, with activities and challenges en route.

The woodland play area is the perfect space to burn off some energy with natural obstacles, a maze, tyre swing and lots more traditional outdoor fun to be had. Older children will enjoy the thrill of hunting for the four geocaches which are hidden along the Bath Skyline. 

⭐ Don’t miss: Spotting the fairies, elves and magical doors hidden in Long Wood.

🌦 Best conditions: A dry day – although squelching through the mud can be fun too!

☕ Facilities: Outdoor space – no facilities. Dogs welcome under close control, must be kept on a lead in some parts.

🏠 Stay nearby: School Place Cottage, Bath (3mls E) | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

The best dog-friendly National Trust places to visit in Somerset

Fyne Court, Somerset

Fyne Court: Image credit Instagram @rio_the_doge

 

There are many outdoor National Trust places in Somerset which are ideal for enjoying with your dog by your side, including Fyne Court. Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the gardens and a pleasant 1-mile walk to five ponds passes through a meadow where they are allowed off the lead (unless cattle are grazing). The wild garden is within the estate of the Crosse family, whose family home was destroyed by a fire in 1894 – you can learn more about them in the information room.

When it’s time to put your feet up, pause for a while for an alfresco drink from the courtyard tea room. Dogs are not allowed inside, but they will get a friendly welcome from staff in the courtyard, as well as a treat if they’re lucky!

⭐ Don’t miss: The hidden gems in the gardens. There is a mill pond, and even a secret garden, with other bits of history dotted through the estate.

🌦 Best conditions: Visit on a dry day to explore the gardens and woods.

☕ Facilities: Courtyard tea room (dogs welcome outside).

🏠 Stay nearby: Shepherds Croft, Taunton (7mls NE) | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

Carved across the landscape as if a giant has taken umbrage with the serenity of the green hills, Cheddar Gorge is one of the most incredible National Trust places in Somerset. Almost 400 metres deep and 3 miles long, it’s one of the UK’s most impressive geographical landmarks, and a fantastic attraction to visit with dogs. While the caves themselves aren’t owned by the National Trust, they are one of Somerset’s dog-friendly days out as your pooch can venture into their depths by your side.

The part of the gorge which is owned by the National Trust is the north side, whose splendid scenery can be enjoyed on a particularly spectacular dog walk. As you’re admiring the breathtaking views out over Cheddar, Glastonbury Tor, the Somerset levels and Bridgwater Bay, see if you can spot some of the native flora and fauna, including peregrine falcons and the famous Cheddar pink flowers.   

⭐ Don’t miss: Cheddar Paws Bakery, the café where your pup is arguably more welcome than you! There’s a fantastic choice of doggie treats, and plenty of cakes and drinks for you to choose from too.

🌦 Best conditions: The views from the walks are best enjoyed on a clear, dry day.

☕ Facilities: Lots of dog-friendly cafes and local amenities.

🏠 Stay nearby: Red Rose Cottage, Cheddar | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Prior Park Landscape Garden, Somerset

When it comes to dog-friendly National Trust gardens in Somerset, Prior Park Landscape Garden ticks all the boxes in terms of variety and beautiful landscaping. Draped across a curvaceous valley above the elegant city of Bath, the gardens were designed by the poet Alexander Pope and landscape gardener Capability Brown. Not only can you and your dog (on a lead) enjoy the gardens themselves, but also drink in the incredible views from different parts of the estate.

History buffs will relish the fact that the gardens have one of only four Palladian bridges of this design in the world. From there, paths wind their way through dappled woodland, taking you past place of interest such as an ice house and a restored 19th-century summerhouse.   

⭐ Don’t miss: The covered bridge which provides a shady spot on a summer’s day to sit and enjoy the peace of this sheltered valley with your faithful companion by your side.

🌦 Best conditions: Visit on a dry day, unless you don’t mind a little rain on your dog walk.

☕ Facilities: Tea Shed selling refreshments. Parking available in city, no on-site parking.

🏠 Stay nearby: School Place Cottage, Bath (3mls E) | Sleeps 2 + 1 dogs

The best National Trust gardens in Somerset

Stourhead, Somerset

National Trust gardens in Somerset are numerous and varied, but Stourhead, with its Palladian House and stunning landscape garden is, as it was described upon its opening, ‘a living work of art’. Cascading down to a sparkling central lake, the gardens encompass no end of wondrous plants and curiosities. Magical grottoes, classical temples, a stunning Pantheon and an array of exotic trees come together to create an almost fairy-tale landscape which is a feast for the senses.

Beyond the landscaped gardens, the 1,720-hectare estate covers chalk downs, ancient woods and farmland. The beautiful Stourhead house is a true gem too, with an incredible art collection. The house itself is accented with items of Chippendale furniture and boasts a glorious regency library which will have book worms green with envy.  

⭐ Don’t miss: Climbing to the top of King Alfred’s Tower. The woodland folly affords panoramic views over Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

🌦 Best conditions: Visit on a dry day to appreciate the gardens, or in any weather if the house is your main attraction.

☕ Facilities: Farm shop (not NT), restaurant and shop. Dogs on a lead welcome in the garden all day from 9 November to 6 March, and after 2pm during the rest of the year.

🏠 Stay nearby: The Old Shop Bourton, Shaftesbury (7.5mls NW), Dorset | Sleeps 2

Barrington Court, Somerset

Barrington Court is different to many of the National Trust Houses in Somerset in that it is unfurnished. Beautifully restored, yet empty, it allows the garden to take the limelight – and what a garden! In fact, the grounds are divided into a number of gardens; the walled White Garde, the Rose and Iris Garden and the Lily Garden were consulted upon with famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

The kitchen garden is not only functional in that it provides fresh fruit and vegetables for the restaurant, but it’s also a delight to wander around, with huge pumpkins and ornamental curiosities to admire. The house has a moat which is home to a variety of wildlife and there’s even an orchard laden with fruit trees.

⭐ Don’t miss: A meal in the restaurant. Savour the flavours from Barrington Court’s very own kitchen garden, and wash down your food with a cider or apple juice made from apples from the orchard.

🌦 Best conditions: Best visited on a sunny day in spring or summer when the gardens are alive with colour and fragrance.

☕ Facilities: Gift shop and restaurant.

🏠 Stay nearby: Woods Hideaway, Langport  | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Lyte’s Cary Manor, Somerset

This medieval manor with its beautiful Arts and Crafts-style garden is perhaps one of the National Trust Properties in Somerset where you can most picture yourself living. Herbalist Henry Lyte lived there before it was restored in 20th century by Sir Walter Jenner. The garden exhibits carefully planted borders, dark yew hedges, topiary, a fountain, an orchard and immaculate lawns.

Not only is it a haven for visitors, but the garden has also been designated as a special conservation site for the Shrill carder bee. Planting has been carefully chosen to reflect the bees nectar sources, with white dead nettle and comfrey, as well as wildflowers to help foraging worker bees.  

⭐ Don’t miss: The scenic walks through the estate and along the picturesque River Cary, as well as a mooch around the community allotments.

🌦 Best conditions: Sunny and dry days are best to appreciate the gardens in all their glory.

☕ Facilities: Tea room with light refreshments. Picnic area.

🏠 Stay nearby: Blue Bramble Cottage, Somerton (5mls E) | Sleeps 2

 

Stay with us in Somerset

With so many beautiful gardens and National Trust properties to visit in Somerset, you’ll want to make sure that you have a fabulous holiday home to return to at the end of your days out exploring. Our collection of holiday cottages in Somerset offer everything from enclosed dog-friendly gardens to luxurious hot tubs to soak away your stresses. Book one of our holiday cottages in Somerset and add some of these wonderful National Trust houses onto your itinerary.

Take a look at the map below to see where each of the National Trust places to visit we've featured are located across Somerset.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.