Project Britain

The Southwest of England

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The Southwest of England

Counties: Somerset, Bristol,
Gloucestershire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall,


The southwest is known for its draught cider and clotted cream teas. There are cob-and-thatched cottages, fishing villages and shady creeks. The region covers most of an area known as the West Country.


Cornrwall is famous for its surfing

Thatched Cottages in Cornwall

Up in the far north of the region is an area of outstanding beauty known as the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds are well-known for gentle hillsides (‘wolds’), sleepy villages and for being so ‘typically English’.

Most of the houses in the area are made from the local honey-coloured limestone.


The Southwest is a long peninsular with bleak moorlands and rocky outcrop. The wide expanse of Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, occupies most of the central part of southern England. The region's main rivers are the Severn, Britain's longest river, which empties into the Bristol channel, and the Avon, whichflows through the city of Bristol.

The highest point of the region is High Willhays, at 621 metres. It is the highest hill in Dartmoor.

The wide expanse of Salisbury Plain occupies most of the central part of southern England. It covers an area of approximately 300 square miles ( 775 sq km) and is drained to the south by the River Avon. Sailsbury plain is a barren chalk plateau without trees and much of it is used as a pasture for sheep.

Many people travel to see Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located on Salisbury Plain.



Stonehenge as it might have looked

National Park - Dartmoor and Exmoor

The wild granite plateau of Dartmoor in Devon, with its rocky out crops, dramatic gorges and valleys, is a national park.
Exmoor, further north, is a bracken-covered hilly moorland.

Important Cities

Bristol is the region's biggest city, and is also an important port whose fortunes were founded in the 1700s on the slave trade. Slaves were brought here from West Africa. Smaller ports in the region include Weymouth, Poole and Plymouth. Ferry services to continental Europe operate from all these ports. Other important cities and towns include the Roman cities of Bath and Gloucester, and the historic cathedral cities of Exeter and Salisbury.


The South West of England is well known for producing Cheddar cheese, named after Cheddar gorge, which is located close to Bristol, and for cider.

Cornwall used to be famous for its tin mines (pictured below), which operated from Roman times until the last mine closed in 1998.

There are stone and clay quarries in Devon and Cornwall. Other regional industries include engineering, ship building, electronics and food processing. Swindon is home to many new industries, such as computers. Japanese car manufacturer Honda has an important car plant just outside Swindon.

The counties of Devon, Cornwall* and Somerset are often called the West Country.

They are very popular as holiday (vacation) destinations. Because of this there are lots of hotels, caravan and camp sites and b&b's (bed and breakfasts- houses that offer rooms and breakfast)

*Many individuals and groups in Cornwall maintain that Cornwall is not a part of England and assert that constitutionally it is a Duchy and nation of the UK. Cornwall has a distinctive culture, identity and language, separate from the rest of England.

Places I would like to visit but have not done so yet

St Enodoc Church near Rock (Padstow) Cornwall
Made famous by the poet laureate, John Betjeman who is buried in the church yard. In the 19th century it is reported that the church was almost completely swallowed by the sands of Daymer Bay.

Guided tour of the harbour of Bristol
Pleasant walk around the quays to the harbour side haunts of the pirates and swashbucklers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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