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What's on in Somerset: Ten things to do this autumn

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: September 05, 2012

  • The Autumn Steam Gala will attract thousands of visitors from October 4 to 7

  • The Dunster Castle Walking Festival takes place from from October 27 to November 4

  • Pay a visit to Cleeve Abbey this autumn

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A meadow in Somerset’s county town is to be showcased during a family fun day.

The Friends of Longrun Meadow in Taunton are holding its first family fun day on September 9 and its one of many events set to entertain the crowds in Somerset this autumn.

The 65-acre park, owned and maintained by Taunton Deane Borough Council, will also be hosting a series of fun runs.

Registration for the fun runs starts at 9.30am with other activities starting at 11am.

Longrun was bought by the Borough Council and forms part of the town centre regeneration scheme, Project Taunton.

It forms part of Taunton's flood protection by capturing excess water upstream of the River Tone before it reaches the town centre.

The meadow provides a riverside park and wildlife habitat close to the town centre and boasts not just the oak barn but a living willow cathedral.

Dave Bullock, of the Friends of Longrun Meadow, said: "Our aim is to promote the Meadow, not only as an open green space for environmental education - 'classrooms without walls' - but also as a place to relax or enjoy quieter recreational activities such as walking.

“Picnic benches and a cyclogym have now been installed. The Meadow is also gaining reputation as an area for keeping fit: 5k runs now take place on the first Sunday of every month, plus there is a permanent orienteering course."

Councillor Catherine Herbert, who holds the sports, parks and leisure portfolio, said: "We really are starting to see the real benefits of Longrun Meadow as an area for relaxation, learning and conservation, it is a wonderful asset for our community, so close to the town centre, and I am proud that Taunton Deane has managed to deliver this for our community."

There are plenty of Autumn events to fill the diary in Somerset – we’ve picked out 10 highlights...

1) Night at the Abbey – spectacular event which will see Glastonbury Abbey lit up in a myriad of colours and different types of music in different parts of the ruins and grounds on September 7 from 6pm to 10pm.  There’s also theatre, a wandering magician and an exhibition. Tickets £3 adults and £2 children available in advance at the Abbey Shop or on the gate.

Glastonbury Abbey, The Abbey Gatehouse, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury, BA6 9EL T: 01458 832267.

2) Pilton Party – Glastonbury Festival may have had a fallow year but festival founder Michael Eavis is still throwing the annual Pilton Party in 2012 to raise funds for the village. The Vaccines and Professor Green will be topping the bill on September 7 with support from Zulu Winter and Manners at Worthy Farm from 6pm.

Tickets cost £25 and must be pre-ordered and paid for by telephoning 01749 890470. All tickets must be collected in person from Worthy Farm during office hours weekdays with all tickets to be collected by September 6.

3) Steam ahead – West Somerset Railway is holding its Autumn Steam Gala on October 4-7.

Featuring visiting and home fleet locomotives and the Minehead turntable will be operating throughout the weekend. There are 10 stations to alight at and explore as well as museums and gift shops. It is Britain’s longest standard gauge steam railway and runs for 20 miles from Bishops Lydeard to Taunton. Special event admission prices apply.

West Somerset Railway, West Somerset, TA24 5BG T: 01643 704996.

4) Circus of Horrors – an Autumn treat at Wookey Hole on October 26 and 27. Organisers say: “17 years after its conception at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, the show has gone on to tour the World achieving cult status and dragging Circus screaming and shouting into the 21st century and beyond.

"The new sensation, which stormed into the finals of Britain’s Got Talent is packed with new shocks that will take you on a whirlwind journey like a bat out of Hell into 1927 Berlin, this was the roaring twenties, a decadent decade, the birth of the Cabaret and the home to the Devil Doll.”

Wookey Hole Ltd, Wookey Hole, Wells, BA5 1BB T: 01749 672243.

5) Chutfest 2012 – mark a British tradition of chutney and preserve making at Barrington Court which is hosting Chutfest ’12 on October 6 and 7 from 11am to 4.30pm. It gives visitors the chance to swap or sell your homemade chutneys, pickles, and preserves with or to other like-minded preservers of food.

There will be other food stalls too, for those wanting to buy products to go with their preserves.  Barrington Court boasts Gertrude Jekyll inspired gardens, kitchen gardens and a manor house. 

Barrington Court, Barrington, near Ilminster, TA19 0NQ T: 01460 241938.

6) Discover a Monks dormitory – described by English Heritage as ‘one of the undiscovered jewels of Somerset’, the Cistercian Cleeve Abbey is a haven of peace and tranquillity.

Although the Abbey church was destroyed by Henry VIII during the dissolution in 1536, the cloiser buildings including a gatehouse, refectory and 13th century heraldic tiles remain intact. Open 10am to 5pm in September and 10am to 4pm in October, English Heritage members get in free, other adults £4.30, child five to 15 £2.60 and concession £3.90.

Cleeve Abbey, Abbey Road, Washford, Watchet, TA23 0PS T: 0870 333 1181.

7) Red Stag Safari – discover Exmoor National Park with a safari. The organisers say: “Our Exmoor Safari routes have been carefully planned to take you across the wildest and most stunning parts of the moor, ensuring that you view the local landmarks and to give you the best chance of seeing the wildlife. Routes vary depending on conditions. 

Red Stag Safari: T: 01643 841831.

8) Love reading? Check out Taunton Literary Festival 2012 from September 22 to 30. Among those taking part are Pam Ayres, Lord Paddy Ashdown, Alexander Waugh, Sir Roger Carrick and Ben Kane with various locations throughout the area. Tickets and more information available from Brendon Books.

Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton, TA1 4ER T: 01823 337742.

9) Tribute night – Have a Thriller of a night at a Michael Jackson Tribute Night on October 27 at The Manor Hotel in Yeovil. There’s also a three course meal too at £24.95 a person. Booking essential as places are limited. Call 01935 423116.

The hotel was fully refurbished in November 2011. It became the Manor Hotel in 1927 although it was originally built in 1735 by local glover and merchant banker John Daniel.

Manor Hotel, 26 Hendford, Yeovil, BA20 1TG T: 01935 423116.

10) Walking Festival – as the dark nights draw in enjoy the Dunster Castle Walking Festival from October 27 to November 4, 11am to 4pm. Normal admission charges apply. The self-led one mile walk takes you to the highest point of the site, through the gardens and back to the starting point. Visitors are advised to wear sensible clothing and shoes. Dogs on leads welcome. 

A castle has existed at the site since Norman times and says the National Trust: “The castle boasts spectacular views towards the Bristol Channel, the Quantock Hills and up to the moors of Exmoor.”

Dunster Castle, Dunster, near Minehead, TA24 6SL T: 01643 821314.

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