10 things to do in Watchet
Published: 12:08 PM June 2, 2021
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Once a busy shipping port, the seaside town of Watchet is now a hotspot for music, art and plenty more
- Although cancelled this year, visitors normally flock to the town in May to see the Watchet Wheelbarrow Race. It’s another hugely successful annual event.
- As well as music, Watchet has a strong artistic reputation. Due to launch this summer, the East Quay development will house gallery and workshop spaces and will host a programme of exhibitions and activities throughout the year. Also on site will be a printmakers’ studio, a paper mill and a rock and fossil laboratory. With a courtyard social area and restaurant, and several self-catering accommodation units, it’s expected to become a hub of activity for the town.
- Watchet harbour is said to be the inspiration behind the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who came across the town on a walk from his home in Nether Stowey over the Quantock Hills in 1797.A statue on the harbour to mark the association was made by Scottish artist Alan B Herriot, who also created the town’s sculpture of Yankee Jack.
- The sea off the West Somerset coast provides plenty of good fishing opportunities and charter trips are available with both the Seafire and Scooby Doo Too, skippered by Shaun Anning and Steve Yeandle, running trips out of the harbour.
- Just outside town is Tropiquaria, a small zoo based in and around an unusual art deco BBC radio transmitter station. It houses a large array of wildlife, and indoor areas include an aquarium, tropical hall and nocturnal house. There are outdoor adventure playgrounds and a café and gift shop.
- Watchet’s museums are worth a visit. The Boat Museum is next to the West Somerset Railway and housed in a building designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. You can learn all about Watchet’s Flatner, a flat-bottomed boat used in the Bristol Channel.
- Along the Esplanade is the Market House Museum which includes an exhibition on the town’s history, from prehistoric times to its modern industrial heritage.
- There’s a two-mile Watchet to Washford trail along the old West Somerset Mineral Railway and, as well as the coastal views, a ramble along the beach at Helwell Bay provides the added excitement of fossil hunting.
- Some of the earliest ammonite fossils recorded in Britain have been found here. On the other side of town, at West Street Beach there are more rockpooling opportunities and a Victorian tidal pool to discover.
- For some serious hiking, the country’s longest National Trail, the South West Coast Path begins in nearby Minehead.
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