The Quantock Hills, situated in the county of Somerset in southern England, were the first place in the country to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. The area is characterised by maritime heathland and hosts outstanding scenery and important habitats. Located west of Bridgwater, the hills cover an area 12 miles by 4 miles and include green woodland, farmland and valleys alongside small hamlets and villages.
The Quantock Hills are classic walking country with many desirable routes across the heathland, such as the Coleridge Way, a 36-mile trail that begins in Nether Stowey and crosses through the Hills to Porlock on the north Devon coast. The route was named after the writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who lived in Nether Stowey in the late 18th century. The Quantock Greenway footpath follows two loops and covers 37 miles of varied and scenic landscapes. Also running through the area is the Macmillan Way West route. Part of the Hills has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and wildlife is abundant. Amphibians, reptiles, birds such as the nightjar and pied flycatcher and mammals like the red deer all call the Hills their home.
Other activities in the region include cycling and horse riding. Those looking for a more gentle way of exploring the countryside can ride the West Somerset Railway, which travels 23 miles along the edge of the Quantock Hills from Bishops Lydeard to Watchet and on to Minehead.
Evidence of previous residents is rife throughout the Hills and take the shape of Bronze Age round barrows or burial chambers (a good one to visit is Thorncombe Barrow) and Iron Age hill forts like those at Dowsborough and Ruborough. Later invasions by the Romans have left their mark on the landscape at places like Dunster Castle and Stowey Castle at Nether Stowey.