Somerset eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about Somerset.
38; but it narrows so rapidly westwards that where it abuts on Devon its average width is only 15 m.  In point of size it stands seventh on the list of English counties, having an area of over a million acres, or 1633 square m.  It lies between 2 deg. 10’ and 3 deg. 50’ W. longitude, and 50 deg. 50’ and 51 deg. 30’ N. latitude.  Its population in 1901 was 508,104.  It is one of the few counties which was originally the settlement of a single tribe, the Somersaetas, from whom it takes its name; and the fact that “Somerset” (like Dorset) is thus a tribal name is in favour of its dispensing with the suffix shire, though “Somersetshire” has been in common use since the time of the “Saxon Chronicle.”


The climate is mild and equable, though from its diversified surface the county experiences some varieties of temperature.  The seaboard is warm, but its considerable southward trend gives it a good Atlantic frontage, which prevents it from being relaxing.  Weston is said to be ten degrees warmer than London.  The breezes on the uplands are bracing but never searching.  The Mendips have been considered a suitable site for a consumptive sanatorium.  The central flats are damp.  They lie so low that in places the coast has to be protected by sea walls, and the prevalence of large “rhines” or drains makes for humidity.  The sheltered vale of Taunton Dean (for the term cp. Hawthorndean, Rottingdean) is warm and sunny.  The rainfall is abundant, but, except in the neighbourhood of Exmoor, cannot be said to be excessive.


Roads.—­Everywhere highways and byways are numerous, and some districts are prodigally supplied with footpaths.  With the exception of Exmoor, which is best explored on foot, even the remotest parts are accessible to the wheelman.  But the cyclist will find the travelling somewhat unequal.  Like the curate’s fabled egg, the roads are best described as “good in parts.”  Amongst the hills they are firm but arduous, in the plains easy but soft.  The main thoroughfares, however, can be recommended both for breadth and surface.

Railways.—­The Somerset railway system is extensive.  The G.W.R. (the chief service of the county) unites Bath with Bristol, and throwing itself round the N.W. extremity of the Mendips, runs down an almost ideal track to Taunton and Wellington.  A loop from Worle to Uphill serves Weston-super-Mare, whilst short branches, one from Bristol and a second from Yatton, afford communication with Portishead and Clevedon.  Another section skirts the E. side of the county from Frome to Yeovil, and by taking a short cross-country cut from Castle Cary to Langport unites again with the trunk line near Taunton.  From Taunton branches radiate to Minehead, Dulverton, Chard, and Yeovil.  A branch line again connects Bristol with Frome, and access is obtained to Wells

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Somerset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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