Places to stay in
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South
West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire
to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west.
It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel
and the estuary of the River Severn. Its traditional northern border
is the River Avon, but the administrative boundary has crept southwards
with the creation and expansion of the City of Bristol, and latterly
the county of Avon and its successor unitary authorities to the
north. Somerset's county town, Taunton, is in the south. Somerset
is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills,
Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large
flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels.
There is evidence of human occupation from Palaeolithic times,
and of subsequent settlement in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods.
The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power
and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil
War and the Monmouth Rebellion.
Agriculture is a major business in the county. Farming of sheep
and cattle, including for wool and the county's famous cheeses (most
notably Cheddar), are traditional and contemporary, as is the more
unusual cultivation of willow for basket weaving. Apple orchards
were once plentiful, and Somerset is still known for the production
of strong cider. Unemployment is lower than the national average;
the largest employment sectors are retail, manufacturing, tourism,
and health and social care. Population growth in the county is higher
than the national average.