Where We Went…
Langport, South Somerset. A pretty little town set on the banks of the River Parret with views out across the Somerset Levels. For a small place, Langport has a lot going on with a thriving high street and plenty to see and do locally. Very friendly local community and some unique things to see.
Where We Stayed…
In a historic church. Yes, it was another Champing adventure for us. If you missed my last post about Champing, I’ll link it here but in a nutshell, Champing is the practice of staying over night in historic churches using camping equipment provided by the lovely folk at champing.co.uk.
Our church of choice this time was All Saints, a 15th Century church perched on a hill top on the edge of the town. Although champing in Spring was
a bit chilly absolutely Baltic, waking up cosy in the camp bed with Spring sunshine streaming through the stained glass was a beautiful way to start the day.
Where We Ate…
Because hungry travellers don’t make happy travellers.
The Champing team have kitted out a kitchen area in the church with basic cups and cutlery, a kettle and supplies for hot drinks so we brought along breakfast. Porridge pots & pastries, in case you’re wondering.
Eating out is still a tricky business, being take away only under restrictions at the time of travel. I made a conscious decision on this trip to allocate a bit of the budget to spend locally and I didn’t regret it. We picked up a chippy supper from Pendra’s chip shop in the market square and the best caramel shortbreads from Little Bakery. Highly recommend both, although not necessarily on the same day. I had both in one weekend, sheer delicious gluttony.
Where We Walked …
There’s plenty of scope for long distance walking in the area if you’re up for a challenge but if (like us) you want to keep it a bit more low key, there’s a nice little circular route that takes you round the town itself and a well signed walk along the river to the neighbouring Muchelney Abbey. The walk to the abbey takes you across land reminiscent of the Dutch countryside and brings you out at some beautiful historic houses, including the the Priests House, a stunning property saved by the good old National Trust.
What We Saw…
Everywhere you go: pretty views, photogenic streets, historic homes. Independent shops well worth a browse selling everything from locally produced food to antiques. Touches of local history that have been thoughtfully preserved, including an old water pump and an old petrol pump. You just come across them as you wander, it’s a pleasant way to get a feel for the place.
Possibly the most unique piece of engineering I’ve seen ever, the Langport Flaming Star Gas Lamp. The metal structure is made of small diameter gas pipes with evenly spaced holes drilled into them. In times of national celebration- royal occasions, remembrance, victory- the star could be hung via a large gas pipe upon the town hall. When the gas went on each hole created a gas jet. When lit, a blazing star of celebration was created. It was last lit to mark the end of WW2. Sadly, it ran off coal gas from the (long gone) Langport Gasworks and cannot run from North Sea gas and therefore is now redundant. Imagine if someone could get it up and blazing again though?
To see the Flaming Star, head for the Town Hall ( Built in 1733,Grade 2 Listed, formerly used as County Court & Cells). There’s a walk through space and the lamp is quite discreetly wall mounted to the left. Keep walking and you’ll come out into the Walter Bagehot Gardens. If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced ‘badge-it’ and he was a Victorian writer, economist and a Langport local.
The Hanging Chapel. Grim name, innocent explanation. The bulk of the building sits over the road with a tunnel to allow traffic to pass underneath. It’s tiny, quirky and has in its time served as a Chapel, an armoury, a school and home to a lodge of Freemasons. Found a little clue to that on the door. There’s not much to see at the Hanging Chapel itself, but the surrounding streets are pretty. Full of houses that would fit right in on ‘Escape to the Country’.
Would We Do It Again?
Yes! I’d go back to Langport in a heartbeat. Langport Boat Hire rents out paddle boards and kayaks by the hour and I’d love to have a go with the family. May the angels watch over us that day, I just know one of us will end up in the water. Likely me. I’ve got my eye on a visit to The Black Swan, a family friendly pub with a cosy book corner. Looks a nice place to round off a day spent on/in the river.
Can’t really give a place much higher praise than to say that I was plotting a return trip pretty much as soon as we got home. If you’d like to know a bit more about the place, Langport Life is a good place to start.
I am loving being able to get out exploring after so many months restrictions. We are still staying very local and being very mindful, but it feels like the UK is moving in the right direction. Where have you been, or where are you planning to go? Is it Staycation all the way for you this year or are you venturing overseas? Let’s chat in the comments.