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Watchet is found on the Bristol Channel coast east of Minehead, in northern Somerset. It lies a few kilometres to the north-east of the Exmoor National Park, while the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding natural Beauty lie to the east.
It is a small town proud of a a history dating back more than 1000 years. It is centred around its harbour, now a marina where the fishing boats have given way to pleasure craft. There is an interesting centre to the town, focussed in the small streets behind the harbour, that contains shops, pubs and restaurants, and also access to the steam train that runs along the coast here - the West Somerset Railway.
There is a small museum in watchet that pays tribute to the long history of the town and the industries it developed around, along with other locally found items of interest, especially fossils, and a second museum that focusses on the port and maritime history of the town.
There are a good selection of walks near Watchet, including coastal walks; the walk along the old 'Mineral railway' which, 100 years ago, brought mineral ore to the town for ongoing transport to Wales, where it was processed; and the Coleridge Way. Exmoor to the south of course offers a very wide range of walking possibilities.
Watchet Fossil Hunting
The town has a long tradition as being a good source of fossils (see Watchet Museum), and this attracts enthusiasts and fossil hunters to the coast near Watchet, so keep your eyes peeled as you follow the coastal path or walk along the beach - you never know what you might find! Helwell Bay to the east and West Street Beach to the west are the most popular coastal sections with fossil hunters. See Somerset fossil hunting for more details.
To visit near Watchet
Daw's Castle: There is an ancient fort poised above the sea 1km west of Watchet, now in ruins, called Daws Castle. Possibly of Iron Age origins, the remains we now see are from works carried out by King Alfred in the 9th century in an attempt to protect the region from Vikings arriving by sea. Appraently the defences worked, because it is reported that an invasion in 914 AD was very successfully repelled.
Cleeve Abbey: Three km west of Watchet (near Washford) the impressive Cleeve Abbey should be visited. Standing in quiet rolling countryside many of the original buildings that formed part of the original complex are now carefully maintained and restored (although the original church is no longer in existence) - the gatehouse, refectory, monk's living quarters, and chapterhouse are among the highlights of this, said to be the best preserved ensemble of its type in Britain. The property is now managed by English Heritage - for opening times and admission charges see details on the English heritage website.
Dunster castle: 8 km west of Watchet: see Dunster for details
Map of Watchet and places to visit
Watchet places to visit
See more places nearby in the Somerset guide