The most picturesque village in Smiling Somerset, your base in the west
We are so lucky that Lilac Cottage enjoys an enviable position in a stunning village with a superb location. Reaching us is easy; the A303 is a few miles away yet the village feels totally secluded because no major roads pass through it.
Despite its peaceful “get away from it all” location, you will be well catered for within the village. There is a really fabulous pub, The Lord Poulett Arms, which offers you roaring fires, real ales and fabulous locally sourced food under its thatched roof. It has rightly won many awards including Gastropub of the Year and in the Summer, they usually have live music in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It is worth booking in advance for popular weekend evenings and Sunday lunch. You will also find a cute little tearoom, Dorothys, and here you can feast on home-baked cakes and milkshakes, soups, sandwiches, scrumptious pies and of course, a cream tea. There is a great community run “Our Shop” in the village, open six days per week, which stocks all the essential groceries you might need along with a range of quality ready meals, fresh bread, fruit and veg and delicatessen items. You’ll find jams made by the local ladies and in season, plums, apples and more from neighbouring villagers’ gardens. You can buy your daily paper here and there is also a post office counter.
There is a village hall just along the lane from Lilac Cottage which has seasonal events such as cinema nights, barn dances and also hosts cricket and football matches. There are large playing fields and a cute little children’s play area with swings and a roundabout.
It goes without saying that stunning countryside is all around you so pack those walking boots and get out and explore. A real locals’ favourite, The Dinnington Docks, is another pub in the neighbouring hamlet of Dinnington. This is within walking distance across the fields and you can eat simple hearty meals washed down with local ciders and ales whilst rubbing shoulders with the locals. There are many pubs in neighbouring villages a short drive away.
When you do need to stock up, major supermarkets are nearby: Waitrose, Lidl and Co-Op are in Crewkerne (approximately three miles) along with local shops, banks and a little further afield (approx. eight miles), the larger town of Yeovil has a 24-hour Tesco, M&S (with food hall) and many other shops and cafés. There is also a modern cinema complex and restaurants here.
Further afield, a little taste of what you might spend your days doing:
- Bridport – about half an hour’s drive near the West Dorset coast, this is a real favourite of ours, a market town with a friendly, old fashioned charm. There is a street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Saturdays is biggest) where you can shop for everything from local produce to vintage treasures. There is a farmers’ market the second Saturday of the month and also a fabulous Saturday country market (formerly the WI market). There are lots of independent shops including the brilliant Girls’ Own Store for vintage and retro, and a vibrant antiques area at St. Michaels (the former ropery) which has a vintage market on the last Sunday of the month in the Summer. There are plenty of excellent food outlets, a favourite being The Stable which serves the best pizzas and many local ciders.
- West Bay – on the coast, a short drive from Bridport, here you can wander the coast with fish and chips or an ice cream. You can also go on boat trips and fish for your own supper. This is where Broadchurch is filmed.
- Charmouth – Along the coast towards Lyme, this is a good spot for walking along the beach and looking for the fossils for which the world heritage Jurassic Coast is famed. Little ones find this fun.
- Lyme Regis – a lovely little town which has become very popular. It has little winding streets amongst which you can mooch for antiques and local handicrafts and explore the art galleries. There are lots of good foodie places, including Mark Hix’s renowned restaurant, or you can head for the beach and treat yourself to fish and chips or a cream tea. Fishing trips are also available.
- River Cottage – located over the border in Devon, approximately 30-40 minutes drive away (via a stunning scenic route through the Marshwood Vale), they hold many open days and also have a canteen and shop in nearby Axminster.
- Honiton – Another bustling little town which is famous for its many antiques shops. You will find everything from pricey C16th furniture to (shhhh) 1930’s feedsack patchwork quilts! There is a street market on Saturdays. (Also reachable by train from Crewkerne.)
- Cider Mills – you can’t come to the West Country and not sample local cider at some point and Lilac Cottage is right in the heart of cider apple country. Our favourite is at Burrow Hill a short and pretty drive away. Here they will let you taste their craft ciders straight from the barrel and also their renowned cider apple brandy. Visiting here is a real step back in time, you can visit the old barn with its stills and in Spring, wander the apple orchards awash with blossom. Perry’s is also a short drive from the cottage in the pretty village of Dowlish Wake and they have a nice little tearoom, too.
- Shepton Mallet – the town itself is not particularly exciting but the Showground (about half an hour’s drive) has some great events from toy and train collectors’ fairs to the unmissable flea market on selected Sundays through the year. (See our NEWS page for dates and book your stay early!)
- Dorchester – is a busy town with some good shopping, both modern and vintage, on offer. The old brewery area has been attractively renovated and now offers a modern cinema and shops and restaurants such as Carluccios and Wagamamas. There is a Sunday morning car boot sale and on the outskirts, the Curiosity Centre where you may find a vintage bargain.
- Taunton – the county town of Somerset and home to the Museum of Somerset. You’ll also find the usual large multiplex cinema and supermarkets and lots of eateries such as Bill’s and Zizzis.
- Yeovil Car Boot Sale – this is held nearly every Sunday (check local papers or our NEWS page) at the very civilised hour of 1pm. This gets very busy with sellers and shoppers alike and you never know what you might find!
- Heritage Railways – we’re rather fans of the age of steam ourselves and whilst not on the doorstep, you have a couple of excellent steam railways which you can reach within an easy day trip from Lilac Cottage. In Somerset, you have the West Somerset Railway from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, one of the longest steam railways in the country. The smaller East Somerset Railway is closer (and on the way to Shepton Mallet). Over the border in Dorset, it’s worth a trip to the Swanage Railway which is located in a really super area, The Purbecks, with much to explore. Corfe Castle was the setting for some of Enid Blyton’s novels so a trip here is like a little step back in time. There’s lots to explore in this area from Brownsea Island to Durdle Door, you will be spoilt for choice.
- National Trust – there are many properties within the area. Barrington Court and Montacute House, both of which were used for the filming of Wolf Hall, are a very short drive away. Montacute is a very pretty village with a couple of pubs (The King’s Arms Inn is particularly good) and there is also a toy and wireless museum with tea room. The village is situated at the foot of Ham Hill (designated a country park), where the lovely honey-coloured stone for the local cottages is quarried, and is great for walking or a scenic drive and happens to have a great pub, The Prince of Wales, with amazing views at the top. In good weather, you’ll find an ice cream van parked in the lay-by from where there are incredible views.
- Further Afield – it’s perfectly possible to visit the more major cities of Bath, Exeter or Bristol in a day from the cottage. Exeter is easy to get to via train from Crewkerne (one hour’s journey) and Bath is approximately a one and a half hours drive.
Please see our NEWS page for more detailed dates of local events and fairs. There is a folder at the cottage full of ideas of things for you to do.