The Character of Wessex: Yeovil Scarplands

Sandwiched in between the Mendip hills, and the heaths and vales of Dorset commonly known as "Hardy country", the Yeovil Scarplands are characterised by steep limestone and sandstone ridges separating a series of clay vales, with the rivers Yeo, Brue and Parrett draining into the Somerset Levels. It is most notable for producing Ham Hill stone, which is used to construct a number of buildings and other structure in the region, including the Hamdon Hill war memorial illustrated above (photo: Jim Champion).

Less than 5% of this National Character Area (NCA) is settled, though Yeovil itself is a fast-growing urban centre, which threatens the character of the surrounding countryside, particularly on the east side of the town. Smaller towns and villages are often connected by sunken lanes known as holloways.

The area is a cider-producing region with many orchards, though their traditional character is somewhat threatened by the introduction of newer varieties of apple tree.

The area also contains East Coker, memorialised by TS Eliot, who is buried there. The East Coker Society is active in preserving the village's heritage, in a way that should be an inspiration to other Wessex communities.

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