Somerset is a little known county of great beauty. You can stay local, walk, eat well and be busy with local sights, or use us as a base for heading further afield, with the Levels and Exmoor to the north, and the Jurassic coast and Lyme Regis to the south.
See below for ideas, and check out the gallery.
Places to eat
Places a short walk or drive:
Our lovely local pub, a traditional 17c inn, about 10 minutes walk down the road, serves proper pub grub and is welcoming to all. Dogs are also welcome.
Supper: Closed Sunday and Monday nights. 6.30 to 9pm rest of the week.
A cafe in an old Sunday school building – a wonderful place with a licence open from 9am to 4pm. All day (excellent) breakfasts, light lunches and fabulous teas. Lovely atmosphere, with a cycling theme (the owners are passionate cyclists) but you don’t have to be a cyclist to love it. Wood burning stove, and warm and cosy. Dogs are very welcome here.
Open: always, but popular for meals so booking essential at weekends. A beautiful building in one of the loveliest villages in England, a mile from the B&B in the next village. A good walk in summer, in winter a 5 minute drive. Voted Somerset dining pub of the year 4 times. More expensive, good for special occasions. Dogs are allowed in the bar, accompanied.
Another lovely Somerset pub with good food, a large garden and a skittle alley. An hour’s beautiful walk cross country or a 10 minute drive through the back lanes. Classic car rallies are the first Wednesday of the month. Be very wary of the cider – good but don’t have more than a pint.
A very friendly pub in the neighbouring village (10 min drive), serving very good food in a beautiful old building. The village is lovely and also has the New Farm Restaurant.
A family run restaurant on the farm, not far from the pub, excellent food served Wednesday to Saturday evenings, with lunch from 12 – 2 on Fridays only. Gold winner of many Taste of the West awards. Very helpful with any food allergies.
Outstanding food, so good for special occasions. Open Wednesday to Saturday evenings, and Sunday lunch. This is a 16th century coaching inn in a very pretty village about an 8 minute drive from Merriott.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 12-2.30 and 6.30 to close, and Sunday lunch. Another beautiful 16th century pub in a very pretty village a 9 minute drive from Merriott.
Open Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 2.30 and 6.30 to 9.30, and open Sunday lunch. Another outstanding restaurant in nearby Beaminster, a lovely small town – large village on the way to the south coast, and close to the gardens and house at Mapperton. The chef is Cass Titcombe, a Dorset native who has set up a restaurant with a focus on seasonal and local food – Jay Rayner ‘simple, deft cooking with attention to detail’. Has regular seasonal celebrations, film nights and is worth the trip.
A marvellous vegetarian restaurant a 7 minute drive from us. Serves food in both its railway carriage and double decker bus, and has a focus on locally sourced quality food. Good for brunch, lunch and tea, open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and attached to a farm shop.
Open for breakfast from 10am, lunch from 12pm, tea from 3 – 4 pm. Highly recommended huge fish focused cafe on the beach just past Burton Bradstock. One of the best beaches on the Jurassic Coast, and dog friendly. Food is delicious and carefully sourced. Almost entirely fish on the menu, but they are very willing to accommodate others, though veggie options will be limited to what they can scramble together.
They have two sister restaurants: one at West Bay (the Watch House Cafe, pizzas and fish), and one further east down the coast at West Bexington (The Club House – awarded an AA rosette in the Michelin Guide 2020). All worth a visit, though bear in mind in high summer there will be long queues during the day, so it’s better to stay inland and head out there late afternoon, or very first thing. They don’t accept bookings here, so you just have to take pot luck.
Further afield for short outings or to incorporate into day trips:
Right above The Hive Café (though driving entrance is direct from Burton Bradstock). Their food is delicious, though pricier than the café, but lovely for a special occasion, or if it’s just too busy down on the beach. A beautiful setting looking out to sea, and you can book ahead, unlike the cafe.
Right next to the car park conveniently. Open Thursday and Friday 5pm till late, Saturday 12 -2 and 5 till late, Sunday 12 – 5.
In a converted railway carriage, and drinks are served in the old waiting room, the decor is fabulous (rustic luxe apparently), the food is wonderful and the whole place is perfect for special occasions. Booking ahead required.
About a 40 minute drive, close to the bird reserves at Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath, and a good spot for lunch before going to see the huge starling murmurations there. Those are unmissable and will happen from November to March – head to the RSPB centre at Ham Wall for advice on where’s the best place to catch them before dusk. This is a fabulous pub with a wonderful DJ on Sundays 1-3 pm (blues, soul, funk, random) to accompany an outstanding Sunday lunch. For younger groups perhaps and not necessarily where you’d take an 80 year old looking for a traditional setting (plenty of those around). It’s tucked away in the middle of nowhere in beautiful country. Take wellies if it’s been raining a lot if you plan to walk at all.
Houses and gardens
A National Trust property and one of my favourites. The house is empty of furniture, which is rather strange, but it makes up for it with 2 cafes. A Jacobean house with a beautifully restored garden and a kitchen garden to die for. A focus on year round interest. The bench under the wisteria is a definite highlight in spring. Dogs are welcome in the garden. Also close at hand is another of Somerset’s beautiful ham stone villages, with obligatory properly beautiful pub. 10 minutes
A formal garden and wonderful house, called ‘the most beautiful Elizabethan house in England’ with a top floor long gallery of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. It’s also set in one of the most beautiful of English villages, and a good starting point for a range of highly recommended walks. 15 minutes
A lovely mediaeval Manor House, restored in Tudor style, with a fabulous garden created in the early 20th century in a ‘room’ style, with gardens divided by yew hedges and stone walls, which makes for fascinating exploring. Also National Trust, and also dog-friendly garden. 20 minutes
A Jacobean house and Italianate garden in a Dorset valley. Called ‘the nation’s finest manor house’, it is privately owned but open to the public from March to October. House and garden tickets are about £13, Garden only is £9: online booking gives you a discount. There is a new cafe opened in a recently converted barn, good for a pit stop, though Mapperton is close to one of the best restaurants in the south west, Brassica, in the nearby lovely small town of Beaminster. It’s also only a short drive on to the sea, so a good place to stop off on a trip down to the Dorset coast (20 mins)
One of England’s most heavenly gardens. Privately owned, the manor is available for house tours on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays only but the 12 acre gardens open on the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in September for daily visits. Set on the Somerset Devon border, it’s a good visit to combine with a trip to Exmoor if you want to make a day of it.
One for garden aficionados, as this is the quintessentially English cottage garden designed by Margery Fish, very familiar to us all now, but it was a revolutionary approach at the time. Open from 1st February (for its renowned snowdrop collection) till 31st October. East Lambrook is a lovely Somerset village with a good village pub and close to the River Parrett walk, only to be avoided after heavy rain. Highly recommended any other time.
A garden designed by the famous Dutch designer, alongside the Hauser and Wirth gallery space and one of the best restaurants in Somerset. Not cheap, but definitely worth a visit. Bruton itself is a lovely small town, worth a wander, and has another good eating place in the Chapel at Bruton – a converted chapel that does fabulous pizzas. And other stuff, too, all delicious.
Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0NL
tel: 01749 814060
The internationally famous landscape garden needs good walking shoes, spread over many acres, with a huge lake dotted with classical temples. It’s a good few hours worth of interest, and as it’s just off the A303, worth a visit on your way here or home, at a stretch of 45 minutes drive on the main road – less enticing for days out than more local trips around the west of Somerset and Dorset.
I’m not that bothered about cars, but even I enjoy this place. The biggest collection in the UK with a huge array of cars and bikes from ancient to modern. The famous Ariel Atom is made at neighbouring Crewkerne. If cars and classic cars are your thing, our neighbouring pub the Dinnington Docks has a classic car rally at the pub the first Wednesday of every month.
and Somerset Cider Brandy company
A beautiful Somerset farm, fascinating to visit and try both ciders and the very delicious Somerset brandy (basically calvados), plus various liqueurs. Lovely countryside on the edge of the Levels, close to good pubs and walks.
Over 100 planes and helicopters, including the first British Concorde, with a restaurant and playground.
Open all year from 10 am. Closed Mon and Tues during winter.
- Crewkerne (5 mins, good for antiques), South Petherton (7 mins, a walk and a coffee), Ilminster (15 minutes), Beaminster (30 mins), Lyme Regis (35 mins) and Bridport (45 mins) are our nearest towns, all with a selection of restaurants and pubs, and a few shops. Bridport and Lyme are the only ones that will entertain you all day, with shops galore, but all are around other things to do and see. Yeovil and Taunton, our biggest towns, are close, but though good for essential shopping are not recommended for sightseeing. They lack the charm of the smaller towns and villages
- Bruton: The Chapel at Bruton (BA10 0AE t: 01749 814070) and Hauser & Wirth (BA10 0NL t: 01749 814060) are both in Bruton, a very picturesque town are both favourites of the national newspaper food critics. About a 35 minute drive from Merriott, both are good places for a special lunch or evening out and have very good wine. The Hauser & Wirth gallery also hosts an exhibition gallery and a Piet Oudolf garden
- Lyme Regis: shops, pubs and restaurants, historic town, good for a day pottering there and around (14 miles, 36 mins)
- Beaminster: beautiful historic town, a few shops, fabulous restaurant (Brassica) and wonderful gardens of Mapperton, good for a short day outing or stop off on the way to or from the sea
- Bridport: a wonderful town, with shops, independent bookshops, a market, pubs and cafes, an arts centre and fabulous cinema, just off the sea so spared the seasonal flood of second homes and lively all year round. Nearby is West Bay (40 mins) on the sea and a good base for walks, with some good cafes and the very good Watch Tower Cafe for fish and pizzas (not together), and the fabulous Station Kitchen for special occasion meals and or cocktails https://www.thestationkitchen.co.uk/ Dogs are welcome on the beach to the left of the town. Good fish and chip kiosks, though avoid the ones nearest the town (Rachel’s is good). Fabulous walks from here across the cliffs
- Charmouth: just along from Lyme Regis, is less picturesque but more charming. It’s the best place for fossil hunting, and there is a fossil museum there. You can borrow the hammer kit from the B&B for visits there. Dogs are welcome.
- Wells: 45 mins to the north, is well worth a visit. It has posh shops and good places to eat, and a wonderful cathedral. Not far from Glastonbury, which is the polar opposite in feel: it’s one of the homes of the King Arthur legend, and is full of tarot readers, witches, wizards and druids, with vegan cafes and health food shops aplenty. Also has the Abbey gardens which are beautiful.
There are many places nearby for trips out to wildlife, most famously the wonderful starling murmurations on the Somerset Levels at RSPB Ham Wall, where there are also peregrines, marsh harriers and waterfowl galore. There are also herons, bitterns and otters .
The sanctuary is set in 72 acres in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a rolling population of horses, dogs, cats, pigs, goats and sheep etc. It’s a lovely walk in a beautiful area, and a good stop off on the way to Exmoor. Winter opening (Oct – Mar) 10am to 4pm, Summer 10am to 5pm.
A non profit small setup nearby where you can spend 2-3 hours with highly knowledgeable staff meeting and feeding their rescue deer. Tours are usually daily (with advance booking) at 10.30. It gets wonderful reviews from adults and children alike. It’s rather informal, but you need to book ahead as they don’t deal with drop in visitors. Lovely countryside. You get up close as you walk around the sanctuary. Good shoes and warm clothes essential.
Walking and cycling
There are many footpaths in Merriott and around. There are walk guides available to borrow for both short (an hour or two) or all day walks, from meandering between villages, or heading out onto iron age forts, Ham Hill, up onto the moors or down to the coast path, all in easy reach.