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Travel – Somerset Levels and the Polden Hills; Southern England

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The Somerset Levels and the Polden Hills is an area of southern England largely ignored by tourists and visitors intent on heading south as rapidly as possible via the M5 to Devon or Cornwall. This is a real shame as the area has such a unique and haunting natural beauty and is well worth exploring.

Somerset is a cradle of early English Christianity – note the plausible legend surrounding Christ’s supposed visit to Glastonbury under the care of Joseph of Arimathea, spawning Blake’s famous hymn ‘Jerusalem‘ – and of Battlefields that have changed the course of English history – Sedgemoor, Civil War 1685 and Westonzoyland, Battle for Europe 1940’s. 

The Somerset Levels  – a vast flat floodplain – were largely drained in the 1790’s enabling the area to be farmed and settled. Until then, the land was inaccessible in winter, hence the origins of the name Somerset – the Land of the Summer People.

The Polden Hills are a ridge of low hills, rising to less than 300ft at their highest point, extending from Glastonbury to Bridgwater and dominating the surrounding marshy Somerset Levels.

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