The Region

Somerset County

The county Somerset itself has a population of approximately 500,000 people and it is largely a rural county with a wide range of small market towns and villages. The western side of the county is partly covered by Exmoor National Park and there are 4 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty . The central part of the county is low lying and flat, once part of a huge reed beds that stretched inland for over 40km from the coast. These reed beds decayed to form extensive peat deposits covering a substantial part of this central area of the county. Somerset covers an area of 3452km2 and has great variety in its town and villages each reflecting the local character of building stones and vernacular styles.

Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in the Southwest and parks and gardens of all ages and types have a significant role to play in the future prosperity of the region. The Southwest is the most visited region in the UK with over 24.4m visits in 2001. The south west tourism agency ( holds a wide range of information on the recent branding initiatives being used for the region

Visitors and residents in the county have many sites to choose from. There are parks and gardens to be found across the county some privately owned, some publicly owned and others managed by individual trusts or part of the estate managed by the National Trust (see Opening hours and times vary during the year and visitors are recommended to check before visiting.