For a mini break, before Christmas started to fully set in, we escaped to Somerset for four days. I've included our itinerary at the bottom of the page, so feel free to scroll down and use as a reference for timings.
To break up the journey, and the day, we set off to Dyrham Park for a walk in the beautiful rolling hills of Gloucestershire. It's a National Trust area, so you'll need to get tickets at the gate - £14 for an adult and this includes entry to the house: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park
It was such a lovely fresh winters day, the first weekend of December. Walk down the hill towards the house, and you'll be greeted with the view pictured above. It's quite an amazing sight, neatly tucked away in the English countryside.
You can walk around the whole building and grounds - keep an eye out for the wild roaming deer. It was really interesting having a nosey around the house, from the leather walls to the original paintings, many features are influenced by Dutch designers. Whilst there is a cafe in the courtyard, we decided to take a pack-up of sourdough sandwiches and hot chocolate. This was such a great lunch after a good 2 hours spent exploring.
After Dyrham Park, we headed south towards Bath, where we had a coffee and wandered around the shops. It was quite busy, but it's a very pretty city, I'm excited to go back when we have more time. These stops really made the drive to Somerset from London a little more interesting as check in wasn't until 3pm and we wanted to make the most of the weekend. It's nice to have a busy day before really settling in for some good rest & relaxation.
We had a nice stay at The Talbot Inn, it's a very quaint hoot with original features, set in the sweet little village of Mells. They have open log fires and cobbled paths, and the rooms were beautifully designed. Unfortunately it was noisy in the evenings and usually until past 12am as the bar staff could be heard packing up. This was a little disappointing as I had booked with peace and quiet in mind. So just a heads up! If you're looking for a perfect weekend away, I would definitely recommend The Pig Near Bath - but I'll go tell you more about that in a moment.
We had dinner downstairs by the fire that evening, it was a combination of traditional English pub food with a slightly more formal menu featuring Monk fish, pork belly, and some seasonal vegetarian options. It was a nice meal, and they had a good selection of wines to choose from.
After a well deserved sleep-in on Saturday morning, and a very long breakfast, we headed up towards The Pig Near Bath for lunch - a hotel and restaurant about 30 minutes away. We've stayed in the Pig in Southhampton before which was a lovely hotel, really comfortable beds set in cosy beautiful rooms. They didn't have a dinner menu, but if breakfast was anything to go by, we knew we were in for a treat.
The Pig is set in a beautiful garden, where they grow fresh fruit and vegetables to use in the kitchen, massage huts for the guests staying in the hotel, and an onsite smoke house, also reflected in the lunch menu - what more could you want! You're able to wander around, see what's growing, and hope it'll later turn up on your plate. We had booked a table for lunch in advance (advisable as it's quite busy), and started with fresh sourdough and focaccia - served with butter and 'garden infused oil', both incredible. We then decided to share some small plates - crown squash salad, roasted carrots and crispy egg and gnocchi served with Chinese Artichokes, something I'd never seen before. For our main we shared 'something honey Ox cheek' (I can't quite remember) and treated ourselves to a half bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs 2015 Zinfandel (highly recommend). All the food was incredible, the Ox cheek was probably the best I've ever tasted and what's more, everything is sourced within 25 miles of the restaurant, supporting local producers and seasonal ingredients.
After taking lunch at a fairly leisurely pace, we set off to a nearby stables for a one-hour 'hack' (walk) on horseback, before heading back to the Inn to settle down for the evening. If we were to visit Somerset again in the future, The Pig would definitely be at the top of list - it is a little more pricey than the Talbott Inn, but on the basis of our visit, 100% worth it! We didn't get to peek a any of the bedrooms but take a look on the website and see what you think: www.thepighotel.com/near-bath
I should probably note that none of my recommendations or posts are sponsored in any manner - if I'm being overly enthusiastic about places to eat and stay, it's because I personally think they're amazing and want to recommend them to you!
Sunday was another lazy morning - coffee and a newspaper by the log burning fire. After fully waking up (at about 11am), we decided to venture out to the nearby town of Frome, that hosts an independent market on the first Sunday of every month. Being a small town in the British countryside, you'd assume it would be relatively laid back on a Sunday. Well, this wasn't the case at Frome Market! It was busy, perhaps a touch too busy, but worth a visit for the food, stalls, boutique shops and historic architecture: www.thefromeindependent.org.uk
By the afternoon, we were definitely due our (well deserved) Sunday roast dinner. The Talbot Inn has a separate restaurant called 'The Grill Room', where locally sourced meats are roasted over an impressive open fire. After lunch and having indulged ourselves for the past 48 hours, we decided to take a walk through the village. After passing a few quintessentially English houses, we peeled off alongside a river where we passed an old derelict lock and a beautiful little waterfall (see below). A little further down the path we encountered some abandoned buildings, which later transpired to be the old Fussells Iron Works (apparently you can still find their branded products at local market stalls and car boots). The ironworks has not been in use since the turn of the 20th century, and is now overgrown with moss and trees - this added a nice sense of exploration and was a great way to end our long weekend.
To wrap up (warmly) - I would definitely recommend a break in Somerset (even in the winter), its great to get out of the city, enjoy some fresh air and make the most of this beautiful area. You can find our itinerary below.
FRIDAY - Leave Battersea, London, around 8.30/9am – 2 hour 15 minute drive to Dyrham Park: Dyrham, near Bath, Gloucestershire, SN14 8HY enter car park via A46. Arrive between 11am - 12pm, an hour or 2 for walking and picnic (in the car)
30 minute drive down to Bath. Wander around some of the boutique shops (Fell in love in The Salcombe Trading Company), have a coffee at Colonna & Small’s - really unusual and great coffee.
30 minute drive from Bath to The Talbot Inn, so arrive around 5.30pm, unpack and relax, dinner booked for 7pm.
SATURDAY - Drive up to The Pig Near Bath, 30 minutes from the Talbot Inn, lunch here at 12.30pm, arrive a little bit earlier to walk around the gardens and ideally set off by 2/2.15pm
25 minutes’ drive from The Pig, arrive at Rectory Farm for 2.45pm - Afternoon horse ride through the country side from 3 – 4pm
Drive back to the Talbot Inn, 15 minutes from the farm, and have supper and drinks by the fire
SUNDAY - Lazy morning sleep in. 10-15 minute drive from the Talbot Inn to Frome for The Independent Market 10am – 3pm. Explore the town a little bit
Sunday lunch in the afternoon, booked for 2pm at the Talbot Inn in The Grill Room
Take a stroll and explore the village of Mells in the afternoon, and relax by the fire in the evening - food served at The Talbot Inn until 9pm if we get hungry again.
MONDAY - Checkout 11am, have a nice long breakfast and head back to London.