In 1956, the Quantock Hills became the first designated AONB in England for its heathland, oak woodlands, ancient parklands and agricultural land. At its northern edge, the hills touch the coast. The area is located in Somerset and covers just 98 km2 (38 mi2), but has a wealth of diverse terrains for immersing yourself in activities or just the natural beauty of the landscape.
The south west is generally milder but wetter than elsewhere in England.
The Quantocks contains one of the largest remaining areas of heathland once common in southern England and these, together with the oak woodlands, provide important habitats which are rich in species. Quantock ponies and native red and roe deer still wander the area and many bird species breed on the Quantocks, including buzzards, kestrels and partridges. Less common birds which live or visit include the wood warbler, redstart and whinchat.
The AONB is Ideal for walking, cycling and horse-riding, with an extensive network of public footpaths and bridleways totalling around 240 km (150 mi). Longer footpaths include the 58 km (36 mi) Coleridge Way which crosses the Quantocks and the figure of eight Quantock Greenway, which covers all landscapes this area has to offer in two circular walks of around 32 km (20 mi) each. It’s said to be one of the best areas in the country for mountain biking, with its long climbs and downhill runs.
There’s a large purpose-built lake at the Middlemoor Waterpark offering water skiing, wakeboarding and jet skiing, or a more sedate water-based experience, the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal offers boat cruises. Coarse, game and sea fishing are all available: from trout fishing on the Hawkridge Reservoir to fishing by boat for bass, flounder and conger eels off Minehead.