Pre-AGM Meet in Somerset

Pre-AGM Meet in Somerset


A warm-up for the Cheddar AGM, or an alternative to those who are unable to attend the AGM

At Phippins Farm Caravan Park,

East Huntspill, Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 3PT

Julia Wright

As a warm-up for the Cheddar AGM in March, or an alternative to those who are unable to attend the AGM, I have arranged a pre-meet at Phippins Farm Caravan Park, East Huntspill, Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 3PT, from Monday, 27 March to Thursday, 30 March.

A mere 26 minutes and 11.5 miles drive from Cheddar, this adults only site is situated on the edge of the Somerset Levels and Wetlands and is close to the seaside towns of Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare.  It provides a very different landscape to that at Cheddar.

About 20 pitches will be available, so if you are interested in coming please let me know as soon as possible.  ( or 07740406449.)  Any booking you make will be provisional at this stage, but it will give me a good idea of the likely number of members who want to come.   The cost will be £16 per night for up to 2 adults or £18 per night including electrics.  Showers are 20p for 2 minutes. The site is dog-friendly with a dog walking field on site.

Phippins Farm is a 17th Century, non-working, farm near the small village of East Huntspill.  The site is easy to reach from the M5 motorway and A38 Bristol Road.  The site, on the south bank of the River Brue, offers a quiet and peaceful base. The village stores and two public houses (both with skittle alleys) are within easy walking or cycling distance via country roads or footpaths.  An hourly bus service runs from the end of the site access road to Burnham-on-Sea.

From the site there are good walking and cycling opportunities.  The site owner has a good knowledge of routes, having been born and brought up on the farm.  He seems to have a particularly good knowledge of local ‘watering holes’.  Places of interest nearby include: 

  1. Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserveis managed by Natural England and covers over 500 hectares at the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors.  It has a variety of habitats, including wildflower meadows, ditches, dens, damp fern woods and open water surrounded by reed beds.  

From November to February, Shapwick Heath is one of the best places in England to see huge flocks of starlings come to roost in winter. For further information call the Starling Hotline (07866 554142).   Sadly the starlings will probably have left by the time we arrive, but if spring is late, you never know!  There is also a spring migration of hobbies arriving from tropical Africa.  Around 64 different species of birds nest here, including Cetti’s warbler and great-crested grebes, while dragonflies and over 27 species of butterfly abound in the summer. Over 24 different mammals have also been seen at Shapwick, including water voles, lesser horseshoe bats and otters.

Habitats include lush green wildflower meadows; still, dark ditches; damp, secretive fens, shady, wet fern woods; and open water, fringed with rustling reedbeds. Shapwick is also the location of the Neolithic Sweet Track, the oldest man-made routeway in Britain.

  1. Ham Wall, RSPB Reserve- Here you can enjoy a newly-created wetland, which provides a safe home for many rare species including water voles and otters. In spring the reedbeds are alive with birdsong. Bitterns are seen regularly all year-round.  There is a recently installed new reception building and toilets and a new two-story hide at the north side of the reserve.
  2. Burnham-On-Seais almost in the middle of Somerset’s stretch of coast and close to the mouth of the tidal river Parrett. It is at the southern end of what is the second longest strip of sand in Europe and boasts several beaches.

As with so many of the UK’s seaside resorts, Burnham blossomed during Victorian times and many of its finest buildings date from that time. Today it has everything you would expect from such a resort: campsites, candyfloss, donkey rides and tea shops.

Burnham may have one of the longest expanses of sand but it also has the shortest pier. What this pier lacks in length, it makes up for in elegance and has survived because of its unusual construction – employing granite in its concrete structure to withstand the waves. It was built to serve as a jetty for a steamer service connecting the railway to Wales but problems with silt meant the idea was short lived.

To aid seafarers, a lighthouse was built by the local vicar who used the proceeds from selling it to improve the townscape. A reduced version of this first lighthouse is now a house and its replacement has also been converted to residential use. A third lighthouse was built on stilts on the beach and still functions today.

  1. Rich’s Cider– a traditional family-run business, where you can visit and sample ciders, including the rather worrying ‘Legbender’.  Perhaps we won’t combine a visit with a cycle ride!
  2. Brent Knoll Campis an Iron Age Hill fort at Brent Knoll. It has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is now in the care of the National Trust.  Prior to the draining of the Somerset Levels, Brent Knoll was once a small island known as the Isle of Frogs, providing refuge from the huge expanse of water and marshes that existed at the time.
  3. Secret World Wildlife Rescueis a short distance from the site.  Details can be found on  The centre rescues, rehabilitates and releases animals back to the wild.  Opening hours are limited except for the shop which is open daily. 
  4. Tyntesfield(National Trust) is a Victorian country house and estate, which serves as a backdrop to the remarkable story of four generations of the Gibbs family. Their tale charts the accumulation of wealth from the guano trade, transformation of a Georgian house to a Victorian Gothic masterpiece and the collection of over 50,000 objects. Their achievements are celebrated through ornate Gothic carvings, flower-filled terraces and an expansive estate amid the Somerset countryside. 
  5. Glastonbury Torrises dramatically from the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels, close to the town of Glastonbury, to a height of 158 metres (525 feet). The Tor is topped by the tower of a ruined 15th-century church (St Michael's). The hill and its approaches are owned by the National Trust, and offer free public access, but visitors are advised to walk there from the town centre, or to take the 'Tor Bus', due to parking restrictions around the site.

Views from the summit are stunning in all directions - north to Wells, the Mendips and the Bristol Channel; east to Shepton Mallet and Wiltshire; south to the Polden Hills, west to the Quantocks and Exmoor.

History, myth and legend surround the Tor. Dark Age and Saxon remains excavated here suggested that it was once a Saxon fortress, or perhaps an early Christian hermitage. Alternative conjecture has suggested that the Tor is associated with 'ley lines' and various earth energies; it is claimed to be the home of Gwyn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Underworld, and others consider it to be at the centre of a Zodiac pattern formed by surrounding field boundaries.

For details of the attractions of Glastonbury Town see

  1. Clarks Village– Outlet Shopping at nearby Street.

Julia Wright